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The New Normal

A new blog post from DU Member Digital Business Coach.

So, week 4 in lockdown and it is likely we face at least another 3 weeks, probably a lot longer. How are you coping?
My life has changed fairly dramatically like many I’m sure. My day now starts with an hour or so walk, fast paced and clearing a little over 3 miles. That would have been very unlikely just 4 weeks ago! Then, either a kind of gym workout before showering and heading into my home office. Clear some emails, do a bit of research and write a blog. Yesterday I had a Skype call with a new contact and it went very well. That is it for this week!
I now listen only to the main media news headlines and then turn off; the constant 24 hour repeating numbers of our fellow citizens that have died is very depressing and rarely, so very rarely countered with anything upbeat. The soon to be 100 year old soldier who set about trying to raise £10,000 for the NHS and has now just passed the £12m mark. Incredible! Wonderful! Heart warming.
News and opinion on social media ranges from the far out and wacky to the more balanced reporting of the numbers who have recovered from COVID-19. The % of those who have sadly died and who had existing health problems. The concern that COVID-19 is being blamed for death in a growing number of questionable cases. Trump and his latest meltdown. The conspiracy theories over the source and intention of this virus continue.
In the UK our Government, like most being completely unprepared [should they have been?] for this, is valiantly trying to help us all, or most of us. They are up against ‘career first’ journalists and those who try to politicise the crisis. Some of the stories regarding our now recovering PM from those who hate him are shocking. Those who lay on criticism for the insufficient amount of PPE must really believe that the Government is deliberately trying to put people at risk. Then we have the banks. Aah, the banks! Those steadfast supporters of us all. Aside from, surprisingly RBS, all are failing spectacularly in ensuring the support gets to where it is so desperately needed. The “support” they do deliver is extremely profitable and with minimum risk – to the bank.
The Government is now being pressed to adopt financial support strategies employed in other countries. We must hope.
Accountancy Age reported Tuesday that 1 in 5 businesses could go bust. That’s one in five employers. The Bank of England dropped the main borrowing rate to 0.1% BUT the banks seem to have “forgotten” to pass this on to their customers. Customers who will, in a short time, turn on their banks and move elsewhere. More on that later.
That other great support, HMRC, in our nation’s time of need, announced on the 9th that companies furloughing employees would be investigated and charged with fraud once the crisis is over, should any employees be found to have worked during the period. Ambiguous “guidance” over furloughing has meant that employees have not been furloughed that could have been, and some have been furloughed that shouldn’t have been. Fertile ground indeed for our friends at Revenue and Customs. Further misery for many when this is all over. I suspect no clapping for these people.
1.2m of us have applied for Universal Credit since the shutdown; 1 in 10 workers in the US have lost their jobs in the last 3 weeks. At last the authorities are waking up to the fact that the economic price of the pandemic will be severe and that recession, even depression might lie in wait and be worse than most of us have ever seen.
As the song goes, “austerity – you ain’t seen nothing yet”
We are all wondering when this will be over. Perhaps planning what we will do first. I made the point recently that when you take something out of the freezer, the thaw can take some time. The world economy will have been in, largely, deep freeze for many weeks, maybe many months. Getting back to “normal” could take a very long time. Unless testing and a vaccine is available for ALL I fear it will be well into next year. So, what will the new normal look like?
The awards season usually starts in January with the Golden Globes, follows on with the Emmys and the BRITS and is then followed by the BAFTAs and the Oscars.
I hope that, next awards season we will see a new cult of celebrity. Not, for example, the pointless waste of time of young, filthy rich Americans wasting money on cosmetic surgery and followed my millions but our health workers, fire fighters, law enforcement officers, refuse collectors, delivery people, supermarket and essential high street shop staff, those that work almost anonymously [until now] in our Care Homes. Our construction workers turning empty factory buildings into hospitals in a matter of days. A 99 year old soldier raising millions for our health service. Ordinary people who have discovered what community and neighbourhood means.
We might reflect on the rush hour commute and “rat race” as something from our past and be keen to replace it with something better. We might want to work for ourselves and put lifestyle ahead of profit for our employers. We might realise that retail therapy is something which fills empty lives and how little we have really missed it.
I believe most of us will wake up to the fact that, when it hits the fan, we are virtually powerless to do anything and that this must not be allowed to be the case ever again.
None of us know what the future looks like; I take comfort from the fact that in every crisis innovation roars to the surface. I believe that once this is all behind us we will seek a better way. There will be challenges to face, of that there is no doubt, but maybe, just maybe we use our shared experiences of the pandemic and unite as we have never before, putting old disagreements and petty differences behind us. Maybe!

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