The world has changed forever. The Coronavirus and the resulting disease, COVID-19 has changed everything. Even our business and personal values will change as a result of the implications for COVID-19. While it is far from over as I write this post, the impacts are already being harshly felt in every industry. Global shipping is suffering as is the worldwide cruise line industry. Airplane flights seem to be limited to cargo flights, and even cars, buses, and trains are strangely absent or empty.
So, what is really important in life now? After the pandemic, will fancy cars and big houses be important. These along with so many other commercial items are often just for show. They are not actually essential for living a good life. They feed the ego and not the needs for simply living well.
The Coronavirus pandemic will test our values as a society says Dame Anne Salmond in Ackland:
“In New Zealand, will we show aroha, and look out for each other, or will we sacrifice others for personal gain? Will we put the interests of the economy first, or the wider community? Will our leaders rise to the challenge, or play political games?
Over the past few weeks, we’ve seen all of this – panic-buying and hoarding, but also care and compassion, both at home and across the Pacific. We’ve witnessed dedicated leadership, but also petty point-scoring and opportunistic interventions.
We need systemic solutions to these kinds of problems. In the meantime, we can keep our community connections strong and model the behaviour we want our leaders to adopt and show them that love and compassion are stronger than fear.
Will this new, stronger bond with the community, family, and friends continue after the Coronavirus? Many experts say, ‘Yes’. It is becoming deeply rooted in our culture and will be hard to change. The longer the pandemic, the deeper the roots take hold.
Companies are changing whether they want to or not. Airlines are laying off 50%, 75%, 90%, or even 100% of their staff. Will they ever return? Will they want to return?
Corporate reorganizations will become a way of life. For example, Sony is spinning off its camera division tomorrow, April 1, 2020. Long considered a leader after Sony purchased Minolta, and blended in their market-leading sensor chip division, these divisions were deemed a critical element of the overall corporation. However major investors in the company have argued for many years that these divisions needed to be stripped away. Yet, Sony‘a board fought against this idea year after year. Now however, in light of the economic downturn, they accepted this outcome and are making it into a stand alone company.
Will offshore manufacturing and production return home again? During the first week of January 2020, a friend who designs and manufacturers IoT sensor components told me that he could make products to the same high standards and to nearly the same costs here in Canada compared to in China. In huge volumes that advantaged shifted towards China but for quantities under 10,000, he can make his products here. With robotics and automation, China was already losing a grip on its labour cost advantage. Now, with serious erosion of currency exchange rates, the advantage is clearly with the domestic manufacturing. Will these factors bring manufacturing home?
Moving towards an online model, students will make even more use of the internet now than in the past. Having completed several diploma programs and three graduate degrees online as well as over 20 MOOC courses, I know first-hand how useful, cost effective, and convenient online learning is for me. However, will pedagogy be the same as androgyny? Will children learn online as easily as adults? From first reports, they are taking too it even easier and faster compared to adults. So, it looks promising. The unions fought hard to keep eLearning out of the curriculum to protect teacher jobs. But, now, online teaching may be what saves their jobs, at least as long as the Coronavirus rages. Now that eLearning is here, will it ever leave leave? A hybrid model seems to be in the future.
Review your audiences’ needs. Who are the key stakeholders with need for information from your organization? What information do they need, who needs it first, and for what purpose?
Consider focusing your efforts around empowerment, practice, and compliance. It is vital to continue communications. But, how we communicate, with what new tools, and how we address customers, staff, suppliers and other stakeholders in the business supply chain is vital to remain solvent. Companies must embrace online tools for web meetings, webinars, eCommerce, texting, information exchange, work forums, and more to extend the business of communicating to all participants. Some channels will be internal, others will be external, and the rest could be shared by all. Some channels will even be open to the general public. Managing these new digital channels will be critical to maintain trust, respect, privacy, security, and relationships.
Develop messaging and communications strategies for each audience, and assign a communications lead. What communications tools will you need? How will you communicate with each audience should your organization need to work differently (text, email, website, etc.)? Have you tested your emergency communications system and tools? What should your tone be always (e.g. calm, reasoned) and never (e.g. panicked)?
“What we’re worried about is, when families are under so much pressure and everything is different, that we’re going to see coming out of this pandemic quite a big uptick in mental health issues for kids,” says Kimberly Moran, chief executive of of Children’s Mental Health Ontario, which represents publicly funded child and youth mental health centres.
“Coming out of this, we’re going to need to see some investments from governments to try to manage the situation.”
In the meantime, Moran is encouraging parents with children who are struggling to contact Ontario’s youth and adolescent mental health centres for help, even though face to face counselling is rare.
“They’re there. They’re working. They’re not shut down,” she said.
For all parents, the lack of school should be a concern, Moran said.
“Kids really appreciate the structure of school. Even young kids who complain about school really appreciate structure. That structure is one of the key planks in mental health.”
Replacing that structure, however limited, can go a long way to keeping children healthy and feeling secure, she said.
Beyond the needs of children, how are adults coping without social interaction? Some are hosting lawn parties whereby all participants remain at a distance but engage in conversations, often fueled with cocktails to chat about things, make jokes, and have some quality adult time, most-likely without the kids.
Sports and activities are hard with the parks, playgrounds, and gyms all closed. So, creative ways to have fun at home are now being devised. Companies like Peloton which combine exercise machines with web streaming collectives are thriving during this social lock-down.
Politics is changing fast. Leaders who were popular at other times are struggling to lead under these conditions. Leaders who were failing before are now stepping up and showing how good they actually are under this stress.
Some incumbents will not likely be reelected after the pandemic ends due to their failings during the pandemic. The pandemic is showing the true person in our elected officials, instead of the PR-hyped persona spin that they want us to see and believe. The person behind the curtain is now being seen for who they really are. In many cases, it is not a good outcome. However, in many other cases, it has been a pleasant surprise.
This loss of innocence, or complacency, is a new way of being-in-the-world that we can expect to change our doing-in-the-world. We know now that touching things, being with other people, and breathing the air in an enclosed space can be risky. How quickly that awareness recedes will be different for different people, but it can never vanish completely for anyone who lived through this year. It could become second nature to recoil from shaking hands or touching our faces – and we might all find we cannot stop washing our hands.
America has long equated patriotism with the armed forces. But you can’t shoot a virus. Those on the front-lines against coronavirus aren’t conscripts, mercenaries or enlisted men; they are our doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, caregivers, store clerks, utility workers, small-business owners and employees. Like Li Wenliang and the doctors of Wuhan, many are suddenly saddled with unfathomable tasks, compounded by an increased risk of contamination and death they never signed up for.
Canada has reacted to this virus very differently compared to the USA and other countries. We hope that these actions will help flatten the curve for us. However, it is still to early to know if our country’s actions are the right steps to take. Only time will tell.
When all is said and done, perhaps we will recognize their sacrifice as true patriotism, saluting our doctors and nurses, genuflecting and saying, “Thank you for your service,” as we now do for military veterans. We will give them corporate discounts, and build statues and have holidays for this new class of people who sacrifice their health and their lives for ours. Perhaps, too, we will finally start to understand patriotism more as cultivating the health and life of your community, rather than blowing up someone else’s community. Maybe the de-militarization of American patriotism and love of community will be one of the benefits to come out of this whole awful mess.
So, whatever the future holds for us all, it will be one of radical change and new ways to do things. The world is pivoting towards a new trajectory and the global economy will need to recover from this collapse of infrastructure and process. It is time to reinvent how the world works. It is time to transform the world in which we live.
Keijzer, P. (2020). 10 tips to help your business communicate throughout the coronavirus crisis. TNW, The Next Web B.V. Retrieved on March 31. 2020 from, https://thenextweb.com/growth-quarters/2020/03/12/10-tips-to-help-your-business-communicate-throughout-the-coronavirus-crisis/
Richmond, R. (2020). Kids need structure, reassurance, fun to maintain mental health amid COVID-19 upheaval: Experts. The London Free Press. Postmedia. Retrieved on March 31. 2020 from, https://lfpress.com/news/local-news/children-need-structure-reassurance-fun-to-avoid-mental-health-issues-during-upheaval
Unknown. (2020). Coronavirus Will Change the World Permanently. Here’s How. Politico Magazine. Retrieved on March 31. 2020 from, https://www.politico.com/news/magazine/2020/03/19/coronavirus-effect-economy-life-society-analysis-covid-135579
Young, N. (2020). 11 simple ways to care for each other during the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic. Greenpeace International 2020. Retrieved on March 31. 2020 from, https://www.greenpeace.org/international/story/29371/11-simple-ways-to-care-for-each-other-during-the-covid-19-coronavirus-pandemic/
About the Author:
Michael Martin has more than 35 years of experience in systems design for applications that use broadband networks, optical fibre, wireless, and digital communications technologies.
He is a business and technology consultant. A recent contract was with Wirepas from Tampere, Finland as the Director of Business Development. Over the past 15 years with IBM, he has worked in the GBS Global Center of Competency for Energy and Utilities and the GTS Global Center of Excellence for Energy and Utilities. He is a founding partner and President of MICAN Communications and before that was President of Comlink Systems Limited and Ensat Broadcast Services, Inc., both divisions of Cygnal Technologies Corporation (CYN: TSX).
Martin currently serves on the Board of Directors for TeraGo Inc (TGO: TSX) and previously served on the Board of Directors for Avante Logixx Inc. (XX: TSX.V).
He has served as a Member, SCC ISO-IEC JTC 1/SC-41 – Internet of Things and related technologies, ISO – International Organization for Standardization, and as a member of the NIST SP 500-325 Fog Computing Conceptual Model, National Institute of Standards and Technology.
He served on the Board of Governors of the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) [now OntarioTech University] and on the Board of Advisers of five different Colleges in Ontario. For 16 years he served on the Board of the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), Toronto Section.
He holds three master’s degrees, in business (MBA), communication (MA), and education (MEd). As well, he has three undergraduate diplomas and five certifications in business, computer programming, internetworking, project management, media, photography, and communication technology. He has earned 15 badges in next generation MOOC continuous education in IoT, Cloud, AI and Cognitive systems, Blockchain, Agile, Big Data, Design Thinking, Security, and more.