Perhaps inevitably, our digital meetup this week did involve us talking about life under coronavirus, but we also broadened our discussion to consider what lasting changes the current situation might make to the business landscape.
You could say the oil price is on its knees, except that this is something of an understatement. On Monday of this week, one American company’s prices went negative, which meant that they had to pay people to take oil off their hands.
At the same time, reports suggest that if you decide to buy home gym equipment, you’ll be paying a lot more for it now.
Another observation is that the Government has told banks think carefully about how strict their lending criteria are, when businesses apply for the business interruption scheme.
This is in contrast to the dangerous debt bubble they were concerned about at the start of 2020, resulting in a tough squeeze on business loans.
This is the kind of business environment we are operating in. Only a month into lockdown and things are looking very different.
Time is No Longer a Luxury
Whether it’s working from home, or experiencing an enforced absence from business, time has taken on a new meaning for many of us.
Now there seems to be a lot more of it. For some, this is expressed through extended periods with family, or being out in the back garden. For others, it comes as a kind of mission bleed, where the working day no longer has boundaries that determine its beginning or end.
Of course, for people in the frontline and other keyworkers, time is more critical than ever.
This is the strange polarity that coronavirus has created: some of us are largely schedule-free, but others are racing to save lines, or meet critical delivery deadlines.
Is it Too Early to Tell?
Many have rushed to embrace the new reality, some with considerable success, but is it too early to tell what the long-term impact of lockdown will be?
The way Zoom has become as familiar as Google in such a short space of time suggests that the benefits of remote meetings, networking and other gatherings may last beyond the lockdown.
If you’ve already connected with someone remotely, then the digital comms involved in following up seems more seamless.
And it comes back to time – those meetings you routinely travelled to now seem that much more onerous and time-consuming now you realise you could have simply held them via Zoom.
Will working from home sound the death-knell for co-working spaces?
This very much depends on the current behaviour of landlords. If they persist in charging full rent when no one can occupy their desks and spaces, this may well come back to haunt them when some form of normality starts to return.
As mentioned earlier, however, we’re only a month into lockdown here in the UK. Another month and who knows what things will look like?
Currently, with so many of us at home, we are, at least, reachable. From a connected point of view, that’s got to be a good thing.
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