As we know, the world has been turned upside-down. We are facing the worst pandemic in our lifetime. Recruitment in some industries has frozen, but in many industries, recruitment has actually peeked. Cleaners, nurses, supermarket workers, and, frontline staff are all in demand at the moment. So for now, although society has been put on hold, and there’s little indication of when it will end. However some things have benefited from Covid-19, and it’s important to remember these.
This is by no means an attempt to suggest Covid-19 is a good thing. It is, however, a chance to reflect on the lessons we have learnt, and are still currently learning. Apart from direct prevention – vaccination and even washing your hands – the most effective way of navigating the crisis is through remaining positive. So, in an attempt to be buoyant, here are some of the good things that have happened.
Technology Proving its Worth
It’s easy to pick on technology in bad times, because a lot of the time, it is the root of the problem. Social media is sometimes considered the bane of our time, a swamp of jealously and artificial lifestyles. But it is currently doing what it was designed to do: connecting people. As Kevin Roose wrote for the New York Times, ‘One thing we know for certain is that actively participating in online culture is far better than passively consuming it.’ Social media has become a far more reliable source of news, and is keeping people up-to-date with regular information about coronavirus. With Zoom, Facetime and Google Hangouts, where and how people work is changing. Innovation and creativity have merged with technology, and have made working from home manageable – and for some (depending on kids) even enjoyable.
Digital Consumption has rocketed. The popularity of buying online and engaging with consumer-based content – like demos and tutorials – suggest many forms of purchase will now move online. The role of technology has changed to meet Covid-19 and many industries are adapting to this change.
Global Community Spirit
The initial response to coronavirus was truly pandemic panic. Look no further than the chaos in supermarkets. There was a selfish-streak, especially here in the UK, but now the vast majority of people are showing a duty of care and kindness that we haven’t seen for a long time. People are now looking out for each other, united in the fight against Covid-19. Just as technology has allowed us to remain connected – through telephone befriending services, for example – we are demonstrating some of the oldest ways of instilling togetherness. Across the world music is being used as a way of communicating and preserving community spirit. Sound is being used to combat isolation – look no further than the weekly #clapforourcarers.
It is important also to give credit to all of the businesses in the UK that have gone above and beyond not only for their staff but also for the staff of the NHS and other frontline workers. Many businesses who have had to furlough staff have also agreed to pay the extra 20% of their staff’s wages to make sure that they don’t fall short. Other companies are hiring those that have lost jobs due to the pandemic. According to the Guardian, companies such as Co-op, the food retailer, for example, ‘is taking on 5,000 extra store workers to cope with increased demand, offering temporary employment to hospitality workers who have lost their jobs. People can apply for jobs directly in their local branch. And the 6,500 pupils at 25 Co-op Academy schools who receive free school meals are being given a £20 weekly voucher while schools remain shut. Timpson The retail chain, which provides shoe repair, dry cleaning and key-cutting services, says it will keep its 5,500 employees on full pay while its shops remain closed. Lloyds Pharmacy The chain is hiring 1,500 staff so that it can continue delivering prescriptions and healthcare services. The company has also recruited 406 pharmacy students to bolster its staff.’ Leon the restaurant chain has also set up an initiative to deliver free meals to NHS critical care staff. This initiative has now been copied by many local restaurants around the country who are delivering food to their local hospitals or vulnerable people in isolation.
The furlough scheme offered by the government is also something that we can be immensely proud of and grateful for. There aren’t many countries in the world that have been looked after in such a way by their governments. So, whether it’s fitness classes from rooftops, the energy that has gone into converting sports stadiums into hospitals, companies doing everything they can for their employees, the government putting measures in place to protect the nations people, or just the simple chats over garden fences, we are looking out for each other. It’s hard to say if this global community spirit will still be around when coronavirus fades, but for now, it’s humanity at its best and it should be admired.
A Break for the Environment
Perhaps the most obvious positive spin-off from Covid-19 is the respite for the environment. The virus is shutting down industrial activity and temporarily slashing air pollution levels around the world. The lockdown restrictions on travel have reduced drastically the number of vehicles on the road, and global air traffic has dropped by 60%. Because of this many countries around the world have seen a dramatic decrease in CO2 emissions. According to an article in the Guardian newspaper, ‘first China, then Italy, now the UK, Germany and dozens of other countries are experiencing temporary falls in carbon dioxide and nitrogen dioxide of as much as 40%, greatly improving air quality and reducing the risks of asthma, heart attacks and lung disease.’ All over the world, places usually swarming with tourism are being given vital time to recover. Canals in Venice are clear and wildlife has returned. Wild boars roam the streets in Barcelona and in the Welsh town of Llandudno, mountain goats have been checking out deserted tourist hotspots.
Amid the loss of life from coronavirus, wildlife, and the environment have been liberated. These clear improvements do highlight just how damaging human activity has been in ‘normal’ times, but like global togetherness, it’s difficult to say whether any of these positive environmental effects will stretch beyond our re-emergence from lockdown. If they do, coronavirus can be seen as a turning point: one global crisis sorting out another.
Staying positive is just one of the things we can do to help get through Covid-19. Looking forward to all that we can do when this is over; seeing our families and our friends, going out to eat at restaurants, and enjoying downtime in parks and public places.
If you have any questions regarding the current situation and employment within the property industry, you can get in touch with one of our team here.