The COVID-19 pandemic has been enormously disruptive. Personal freedom has been curtailed with many cities imposing travel restrictions locally and the ongoing limits on interstate and international travel. Science has been moved from the back room or basement into the spotlight as the world endeavoured to first understand the SARS-Cov-2 virus, and then create a vaccine within a year. All these, and many more, changes have been disruptive. But I want, for a moment, to focus on how work has changed.
I’m a frustrated customer. With the COVID pandemic, getting to the shops is becoming harder. So, last week I made three high value purchases. I’m not a retailer but it seems as plain as the nose on my face that many retailers are simply out of touch with their customers.
I’ve been thinking a lot about rituals. Not in the Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom sense but in terms of things we do in order to maintain order, celebrate milestones and prepare ourselves for everyday events. Some of this was prompted after reading an article about “The 21 Minute Entrepreneur” by R Conan. But it’s something that’s been festering in my mind since the COVID-19 pandemic took hold.
Earlier this year, I reset my home office space. Part of it was because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the need to reorganise things with my wife working from home and with kids now doing more learning at home. And part of it was a changing family dynamic. But the net result was that I
On my run this morning, I was jogging (some might say shuffling but whatever!) past the local primary/elementary school. It got me thinking about the nature of schools. If a vaccine for COVID-19 is not found, then will schools have to change how they work to enforce greater physical distancing. If the do, will we need to think about shifting to more schools with fewer students? And what of local libraries and community centres? The more I think about it, the more I think we could see a return to a more village-like sense of community.
Working from home is the new cubicle farm. Businesses will embrace it for the same reasons they embraced cubicles. It looks like a way to foster better culture but is really about saving money. Working from home is a lot cheaper than corporate real estate and office fit outs. But there is a way to avoid the mistakes of the past.
Social distancing. It’s a horrible term that conjures up feelings of isolation and loneliness. I much prefer the term ‘physical distancing’ which is about our physical proximity but not a separation of spirit or fellowship.
It’s easy during this time of pandemic to see what we’ve lost. Children miss playing with their friends at school. Adults miss the water-cooler banter at work. We miss seeing different faces up close. We miss the hugs and kisses of family members. Birthday parties. The gym. Going to the movies. Restaurants. Weddings. Even funerals. The list of what we have lost over the last few months is long.
The COVD-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc across the globe. For many countries, there is not a single activity that we took for granted that hasn’t been changed – perhaps permanently. But one of the features of western society is the political obsession with ‘the economy’. The problem is, politicians have trained us to be so focussed on the health of the economy that we’re missing its true purpose. It’s not society’s role to support the economy. The economy needs to serve society. And the pandemic is a once in a generation opportunity to correct that imbalance.
The headline screams “Huge cost of Aussies working from home”. The opening paragraph tells us “Australians will be urged to get back to work at the office”. The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped society so quickly that many of us are still adjusting. And while there’s been a huge focus on the health issues (and rightly so) and now a shift towards economic recovery, it seems to be forgotten that the last couple of months have been extremely jarring. Just as we are getting used to life in isolation, we’re being asked to change again.
If the last few weeks have taught business anything it’s that disruption, that overused term that’s been flung about the business world for the last few years, can cone from anywhere. And it’s the most unexpected things – like a global pandemic – that can destroy even the most detailed and well-intentioned plans. I was recently interviewed for Computer Daily about the tech my media training company, Media-Wize, uses to keep working during the CoVID-19 lockdown.