I recently spoke to a very close, Brazilian-based friend over WhatsApp about the impact of the coronavirus on society in the coming months and years.
He had an interesting point of view. For him, the Covid-19 is a hallmark in human history. Human beings are animals of deeply ingrained habits, he argues, and society will face a few changes in habits, as people become more generally aware of what might impact their health.
He was sceptical, however, about this being a mere disruption, as there is currently neither a new economic model nor a new framework on how to do things from this point on. So for him, once a new vaccine is created there won’t be a new normal.
Warier than ever
My views, however, are opposed to his! I believe our behaviour is going to vary depending on each individual’s unique situation – for example, age groups, nationalities, and if people are in a risk group or not. People above the age of 60 or even youngsters, if in a risk group, might be way more considerate from this point forward.
The authorities, meanwhile, are presumably highly concerned there will be a second wave of infections. But they shouldn’t pin their hopes on a new vaccine anytime soon. It will need to be tested, and then retested, and then once it is approved it has to be produced on a large scale. This could take more than a year to happen, easily.
To this point, 0.6 percent of the global population is infected, but we can’t count on these numbers since not everyone has been tested, and each and every country is taking its own measures. In Brazil, for example, where there are 46,000 confirmed cases and a lethality rale of 6.4 percent, specialists estimate that this number could be potentially 15x higher.
So in the absence of a vaccine, I believe governments will be implementing measures to decrease the possibility of another hard wave of infections.
China’s days numbered
The world’s major economies probably realise they can no longer rely on China to be the exclusive manufacturer of virtually anything we depend on.
In that sense, I believe and hope we can expect strong global policies benefiting the likes of Brazil, Mexico, and other emerging countries in Asia and Africa.
But there will be a price to pay as trade agreements can be complex. We’ve learned from its recent trade war with the US that China won’t go down without a fight. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I’m sure the world will no longer solely depend on China as its exclusive producer of anything important anymore.
Changes for companies
Many companies have woken up to how going digital is a must. Those companies who have the luxury of being digital natives are probably going to thrive at this moment. Other companies who are not digital natives must reinvent their business models quickly.
One example I came across recently happened to my dad. My dad has been manufacturing dress shirts for the past 30 years. He has a site where he employs around 150 people and he also has a number of shops that sell the shirts. But within just three weeks, everything changed for his business.
The Brazilian government released a bill that forced all commercial and non-essential sites to be locked down. But since the government is also facing challenges to have enough medical supplies, they allowed other businesses to continue operating if they were willing and able to manufacture whatever is needed to cover the shortage.
My dad has pivoted his entire business in three weeks and started manufacturing masks. He is one of the lucky ones, though, as many, many other small companies are facing a very challenging time right now.
So I believe that companies and leaders who do not step up (if they can) or contribute are probably going to be remembered.
Consumers will slowly become more aware of who to buy from – particularly if the company or brand they are buying from is currently contributing to society in some way, shape, or form.
Time to reskill
So what should you do if you are unemployed or struggling these days? This is the time to sharpen your skills – to learn that course you did not have time for.
Online education is a sector that is booming. McKinsey published a piece in February 2020 on the challenges of reskilling, and it turns out that 43 percent of the companies that responded to the survey already face skill gaps.
Business areas such as data and analytics, IT Mobile and web design, channel management, and ecommerce need people with sharp skills. Sure it’s good to learn on the job, but if the jobs are not there, then use the time you have wisely on platforms such as Coursera, LinkedIn or YouTube and find free courses to study.
After all, the economy will be back, although it might take time. And when the companies have their budgets back, they’ll start employing again, so make sure you’re ready.
In the meantime, the Coronavirus Crisis continues, and this means that if you still have a job but also have children at home, you’ll need to agree with your partner on when you work your shifts.
For me what has worked really well is to work in short sprints. That means I have a to-do list for my day. I have also started to connect more with people. Yes, loads of catching up, or building relationships because the budgets will be back. And when they are back, people will remember who they are already familiar with.
One last thing I began doing is ‘LIVES’ on Instagram. I have been connecting with leading experts and doing interviews both in English and Portuguese to discuss mindsets, entrepreneurship, health, and other topics to educate myself and my network. These have been fascinating, as while I get an opportunity to get inspired and learn something about something new, I’ve also been supporting my network with valuable content.
So while there are terrible things happening globally due to the coronavirus, I must say we are all very fortunate to be in Denmark. Consider yourself lucky, but remember there are plenty of things you can do to help yourself and make the world a tiny bit better.