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AND THEN WHAT?
The Coronavirus has created dramatic changes in our personal and professional lives. Over the past few weeks we have sent out a series of articles exploring our new normal – our next normal – our never normal again reality. We have asked the question – And then what? We still have no vaccine and yet we are now in phase 3 of the reopening. What will it take to be successful? What reforms must we implement in our post-pandemic future in our personal and professional lives?
SUSTAINABLE REFORMS IN OUR POST-PANDEMIC REALITY
Does a crisis always need to precede reform or can we create our own reforms before our government or another pandemic intervenes? After all, nonessential businesses were closed because our government believed we were not capable of operating while keeping workers and customers safe. Businesses have experienced disruptions and shifts to a remote workforce to serve customers with continuity.
The Coronavirus redirected an awareness towards health, safety, sanitation, disinfection, and personal space. It also changed the ways in which we spend our money. What if we allow our awareness to create possibilities for a new future that removes our current restrictions? What if all of our environments had such high standards and flexibility that we never again had to be told to isolate in our homes and to close our business and school?
The Coronavirus casts a glaring spotlight on deficiencies. No longer can a business operate below standard because a COVID-19 outbreak can now be quickly identified and it quickly spreads. We have learned that some institutions such as nursing homes have been particularly vulnerable and are in need of significant transparency and reform. We have learned that humanity is interconnected and that, as a society, we are only as strong as our weakest links and that we must create sustainable reforms that eliminate the weak links.
Well-integrated multi-channel operations including significant use of the internet is a critical component for creating sustainable reforms. We have already seen the internet create new possibilities during this pandemic. Online or virtual learning has become the norm. Imagine if we eliminate all the barriers and enable every student access to the finest education our country offered. Employers can offer the best education and training online to dramatically improve best practices and the quality of the workforce while minimizing time off from work. Imagine being present at your child’s school performance, a yoga class, a professional musical performance and never having to take time off from work and travel to attend.
Healthcare reform has been a major issue for decades with “affordable” healthcare skyrocketing our costs. Since the Coronavirus crisis, our government relaxed strict rules and now we have telemedicine – our healthcare providers now connect with us via telephone, email, and videoconference. The workplace is disrupted significantly less because we no longer need to take time off from work, travel to a doctor’s office and hang out in the waiting room.
The public may become less likely to patronize a business in which employees with no paid sick leave are inclined to work when sick and expose everyone to their illness. Telemedicine may help reduce the cost of paid sick leave making that affordable for every employer.
Videoconferencing has replaced in-person transactions during this crisis. Imagine if we always schedule a videoconference unless there is a compelling reason to schedule an in-person meeting. In fact, we are seeing that many employees prefer to work from home so that they can utilize the commuting time more productively. Our reliance on physical locations including office space and retail has been significantly reduced.
We have completely reformed our priorities for health and public service. During this crisis, our priorities for health and safety have changed our shopping and spending patterns. We all engage in “click and collect” – we order online with contact-free curbside pickup. We no longer worry about theft, delivery costs, or perishable products. We eliminated checkout lines and excess packaging. We are now making different decisions when it comes to what we wear, what we eat, and where we eat. Our work and leisure clothing have become the same. More emphasis has been placed on the discount sector and the value sector and less on the middle of the market. Most importantly, the public must be convinced that an environment is sanitized before returning. We now expect our restaurant tables and chairs to be sanitized and properly distanced.
Reforms could include a virtual marketplace and a completely integrated digital workplace that eliminates fixed hours, offices and commuting. Other reforms could include mandatory on-the-job medical screenings for everyone, mandatory PPE, increased emphasis on technical skills and decreased emphasis on middle management skills. Some things that will probably not change is the need for effective leadership and high performing employees, supply chain, distribution, advertising, an optimized website, knowledge of your customer base and content that speaks to your target audience.
What are some reforms that you are implementing?
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