The Chancellor’s measures today may have bought us some time (details to be confirmed). However, the short-term depressive impact of Covid 19 on the economy will mean that more people, outside of the key worker sections of the economy, are likely to have time on their hands. It would be a mistake to see this as an opportunity to ease the pressure on workforces. Instead it should be viewed as a great opportunity for companies to devote resources, time and energy into working on innovation and change. It should be seen as a Government funded research and development period in which to come up with new and better ways of doing things.
Some industries are already working like this under the immediate pressure of events. The pharmaceutical industry obviously is already working flat out developing vaccines and anti-viral drugs in response to the virus. Epidemiologists will be learning a tremendous amount about the nature and spreading ability of this virus, which will help us to respond better to future viral outbreaks.
Outside of industries responding directly to the effects of the virus, there are some other sectors in which it is immediately obvious what needs to improve. In order to avoid disruption to the wider economy, workplace digital communications need to get better fast. Many businesses have been caught out because they had insufficient preparation for home working. Every business that is suitable for home working will require a robust system for when crises of this kind occur in future. At the IT infrastructure level, it means that the rollout of 5G technology needs to be prioritised by the Government.
This is one obvious example, but every industry should be thinking about how to take advantage of this crisis to find new ways of working and to raise productivity. We have to see the present crisis through to the other side and work out how to turn a hopefully short-term crisis into long term opportunities.
During the recession caused by the financial crisis of 2008, my company was the first globally to develop intranet in a box software built on Microsoft technology, which saved time and money. This was fired by the recognition that organisations required better ways of communicating with their staff digitally and a desire for cheaper products to enable them to do so. We led the way in making this possible and it soon became industry standard.
All organisations will be ultra-conscious of costs for the near future. Anybody who can deliver goods and services more quickly and cheaper will be in demand. Let us all use this time to think about new ways of doing things. Every crisis is also an opportunity.