We’re not epidemiologists. But we are optimists. We believe that some good can come even in a bad situation. People are keeping an eye out for neighbors, especially the old or ailing. The sudden cut in transport has seen a remarkable drop in air pollution in affected areas of the world. Perhaps once the pandemic is over, we’ll all work smarter and make fewer needless journeys. Fewer flights and lower ‘bricks and mortar’ overheads could be a future dividend for companies.
History can provide useful lessons. In 1973 Britain was in crisis. To conserve coal and reduce electricity usage, Prime Minister Heath limited the commercial use of electricity to three consecutive days each week. Much to everyone’s surprise, there was no drop in output. People worked to get their tasks done in the allotted time, cut the chat and gained four days of leisure as a bonus. Sadly, the lesson was lost when the crisis passed.
More recently, Microsoft Japan gave 2,300 workers every Friday off during the Work-Life Choice Challenge. Not only did productivity go up by 39.9 per cent, but absence also went down by more than a quarter (25.4 per cent) and use of electricity went down by nearly the same amount (23.1 per cent).
Seismic events cause social changes. The women who were needed in the wartime factories didn’t meekly go back to the home and hearth when peace arrived. So, let’s hope that in amongst all the worry, coronavirus delivers some unexpected, and positive, side effects.
Meanwhile, to all our associates, friends, clients and colleagues, take care of yourselves and your loved ones. And stay in touch!