Watching, talking and thinking about the Coronavirus may be absorbing us all, but inevitably home working and meeting cancellations create time (so much less travelling!) and with time there is opportunity to think and plan. To that end, I want to consider the upsides and the unintended - but positive - consequences of the gradual shut down of the world’s normal operations.
Firstly, governments are acting. The world will go on, even during this current phase. Don’t panic, just plan and think….. And keep an eye out for opportunities. Call a few contacts to check in – maybe there is something you can do for them.
Secondly, there will be significant advantages from working from home. As you probably know, I work from anywhere with wifi and a power socket and my team are all home workers. I haven’t had an office for many years and it really makes no difference at all, especially now that I have the Fox Club to use for Pluralist (and other) meetings. Most of the Pluralist Club members operate on similar terms which is why the Fox Club is so useful on those occasions when we need a base.
Of course, many jobs and companies require physical workspace, but longer term I do hope that organisations think really carefully about the need to make people come in every day once they have experienced the advantages of home working. Why does everyone have to cram into trains and buses? Why do they need to be physically present? If the work gets done, does it matter if it’s being done at the kitchen table? Does it have to be done between 9.00 and 5.00? Does it matter if an employee goes for a walk or collects their children from school so long as they meet their targets?
Thirdly, we are all finding out that we really don’t need to have so many meetings, we don’t need to travel all over the place, we don’t always need to discuss things face to face. Now that the only way to communicate is via email, skype, phone or whatever, it turns out we can do a huge amount without sitting in a room together. Sometimes it’s easier or better to see each other and talk things through but when we can’t, we have plenty of technology to help us. If nothing else, this is a great opportunity for tech companies to show us all how collaborative online working can improve our lives. Just look at the Zoom share price over the last week or so.
Fourthly, the effect of our new reality on the environment is really striking. Pollution levels have plunged, air quality has improved, transport links and cities are unrecognisably quiet so that every day is like a cup final. Whether these effects last, of course, is another question. Once production and normal working life starts again, perhaps at increased rates to catch up, things may get worse than they otherwise would have done. The reduction in pollution is directly linked to reduced production, which is economically horrible, but perhaps organisations like XR have a point? This is a chance to consider really carefully what our priorities are and whether we should be making significant and permanent changes to save the planet?
The future will be ok, but I do know that Pluralists are already thinking and talking about doing things differently. This crisis has prompted us to think hard about what more we can do for our members online. Previously we mainly connected in person, but the potential for a “Pluralistscast” is looking exciting. Watch this space!