Our pandemic time warp: now “normal” is gone, most probably for good

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The future is already here – and it’s nothing like we expected. Photo by Sasha • Stories on Unsplash

For a tiny little germ, coronavirus is getting blamed for a lot of things. Job losses, the economy going south, the end of the office job, the collapse of the hospitality sector, the meltdown of the airline industry, just to think of a few.

Yet if we’re honest about it, a lot of these were going to happen anyway. Coronavirus just speeded them up. Telescoped a few decades of inevitable change into an almost overnight revolution.

Not caused by the germ itself of course, but by straight economics. Whenever it’s money at stake, things change regardless how calmitous the difference.

The way we were

Take the office job. Even before the Internet, computer savvy execs were already working from home, frisbee transferring work from office to residence by floppy disk – and that was forty years ago.

“Flexible” working has been a thing for at least the last ten years. And now WFH has shown win-win cost savings, the whole office culture has gone for a ball of chalk.

Employees score better work-life balance, more family time, zero commuting costs, affordable lunches and the end of alarm clock tyranny. Employers gain massively on office rental, improved staff morale, higher productivity and overall commitment.

Right there is a revolution as far-reaching as any we’ve felt before – and driven by the same unbeatable force. Money.

Money talks

For instance, forget the politics, coal mining became too costly, imported natural gas was far cheaper. Same thing with ship building and car making, doing it here was too expensive. Textiles too. Remember how Manchester led the world? These days, designer T-shirts come from China or Bangladesh.

Yeah, so we became a service-business country, everything done on computer. Lockdown no problem, keep calm and carry on from the dining room table.

Except for support businesses – and the inconvenient fact that we’ve become an indulgent society. We like eating out, going to movies, chilling out in the pub – and best of all, at least once a year’s blue sky holiday.

All of which has now gone pear-shaped. Coffee shops can’t survive, ditto sandwich bars. Designer clothes get a miss when day-to-day at home is so easy in tracky bottoms. And climbing on an aeroplane? With furloughs and redundancies, who can afford that?

But here’s a thing. Remember money is the driver.

World competition

So how long will it be before bosses realise that Doreen Smith from Ealing is a good deal, working from home like she is. But how about Pamela Chen in Singapore? Half the salary, AND two qualifications in book-keeping.

And here is where the future starts now. Realising we have to up our game. Just hanging on to everyday means we’ve got to be competitive.

Except we’re not when you look at the money.

Take your pick from India, China, South Korea or almost anywhere – they’re all cheaper. And throw in the work ethic, twice as keen to work overtime or go the extra mile. No contest.

All which says we have to be more careful with the money we have. Because how secure are we?

Being careful

Which, think about it, will make us more frugal about going out – even though we want to – assuming we ever get out of lockdown. More careful about spending on nice-to-haves. Staying home and watching the pennies.

So cut back on the dining out. Climbing on an aeroplane becomes a dream. And these days, even business trips happen on Zoom.

Coronavirus has stampeded the change. And until we get better than the rest of the world for the same price, or come up with a new must-have entirely – like robotics, or AI , or extracting power from hydrogen – “normal” will just be something we can dream about.

All from one tiny little germ.

But there are wins

Coronavirus has brought us plusses though.

With all the emphasis on washing hands, we’re not getting sick from other germs that used to make life miserable. With better hygiene, tummy bugs like norovirus, salmonella and campylobacter have dwindled to nothing. And how few of us are getting common colds or flu?

Best of all though – we may not like it, but it’s happening – we’re getting used to adversity. Tougher at handling things. Getting good at meeting problems and rising above them. Becoming more resilient, resourceful and downright determined.

Never thought we’d say it, but “thank you” coronavirus.

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Back Off, Bacteria! is the blog of Hyper Hygiene Ltd, supplier of what we’re convinced is the most effective health protection system in the world. A fully mobile, all-automatic Hypersteriliser machine mists up workplaces with ionised hydrogen peroxide, spreading everywhere and eliminating all bacteria, viruses and fungi. Hypersteriliser units are supplied to businesses and institutions across the UK, notably the haematology and other critical units at Salford Royal Hospital, Greater Manchester; Doncaster & Bassetlaw Hospital; South Warwickshire Hospital; Coventry & Warwickshire Hospital; and Queen Victoria Hospital, East Grinstead. The Halo Hypersteriliser system achieves 6-log Sterility Assurance Level – 99.9999% of germs destroyed. It is the only EPA-registered dry mist fogging system – EPA No 84526-6. It is also EU Biocide Article 95 Compliant.