Despite being apart, society is coming together

Absence, they say, makes the heart grow fonder. Its new variant, ‘social distancing’, makes our hearts, society and the NHS, grow stronger.

The Covid-19 pandemic has rocked the globe and we are all trying to navigate a new way of existing. The impact it has is far-reaching: from our health and wellbeing, to jobs and the economy.

Basic freedoms such as going to the pub with your friends, walking freely into a supermarket, or even working in your office, have become fond memories of a previous life. But we all know these are small sacrifices on the scale of things.

It has struck me as odd that around 100 years ago the world was experiencing a similar situation, in the grips of the Spanish flu pandemic (1918 to 1920) which saw one-third of the world’s population (c.500 million) infected, resulting in 50 million deaths. As truly awful as those statistics are, the thing to remember is the world didn’t end then, it kept on spinning and society emerged.

We are clearly in a better position than our counterparts of a century ago for a number of reasons, not least the advances in healthcare. The biggie is undoubtedly the technology at our fingertips which allows us to stay connected with loved ones and colleagues at the touch of a button.

Humans, by their very nature are social beasts. Loneliness is as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day prompting the appointment of a Minister for Loneliness in the UK Government in 2018 to tackle this.

Social distancing and self-isolation mean we must keep away from our offices, local haunts, friends and family but technology is allowing us to forge digital communities and keep that all-important ‘human contact’ going. Thanks to the Cloud, businesses like ours are able to continue seamlessly operating with no dip in the quality of service offered to clients. Daily Microsoft Teams calls allow us to come together at the start of each day and we’ve already taken full advantage of social opportunities including an online pub quiz.

Coronavirus has certainly reset society and in recent weeks the world as we know it has slowed down. This brings both challenges and opportunities. Just as the land requires a fallow period to ensure it can keep producing crops, we have been given the breathing space to pause and reflect.

At some point, the economy will need to get moving again. So perhaps now is the time to think about how we’re all going to get back up to speed. When times are as tough as they are now for so many of us, it’s difficult to think about what needs to be done when we get back to what we once considered normal, but this must be addressed, and we must plan for the future.

Thinking about the best way to reconnect with customers and suppliers will be essential. Figure out exactly how you want your brand to be positioned, analyse your goals, create KPIs to help you reach those goals, and most importantly, give some serious thought to your customers. By putting yourself in their shoes you can unlock new opportunities when the time is right.