New Horizons

The prolonged remission from our previous routines is striking. We have followed far-reaching demands to alter our lifestyles and to change dramatically our patterns of behaviour. How quickly will we recoil or could some or all of the changes persist?

Over the years, employers have been reluctant to extend work-from-home options to everybody – fearing a serious drop in productivity levels. Forced to do so, bosses now recognise that remote working has significant benefits. Workers are even more productive! But there are other economic consequences. Travel logistics are eliminated. Travel time is reassigned to work time and workplaces lie empty.

These types of knock-on effects could herald a seismic shift in behaviours. With no commute, consumers can save hugely on travel costs. They can also realign their working day to suit their family life. Employers will think anew about retaining expensive offices in prime city-centre locations. Enthusiastic power meetings with persuasive argument, back slapping and high-fives could be consigned to folklore.

Or will we meekly return to normal at some point? Will we willingly travel on overcrowded public transport or sit numbingly in terminal traffic jams? Will we continue to juggle our family and work commitments? We simply don’t know what lies in store, but one thing seems certain. This hiatus will have us looking back in 5-years’ time scratching our heads about the naivety of our previous behaviours. Long-distance and time-wasting commutes? Car ownership versus convenient car rental? Local office hubs suitably situated?

We have behaved very admirably. We have followed the instructions of our government (or more correctly we have listened intently to a very impressive CMO). We have rekindled our empathy for others. We have displayed acute moral awareness. We have acted with contrite hearts. Is it too much to ask that the changed habits, which were forced upon us, will continue indefinitely? Will the true nastiness of competitive capitalism reassert itself? Or will a new dimension appear?

Right now, people are more concerned with getting through the interregnum. Our hearts go out to those who have lost, or are apart from, loved ones. We feel sorry for those who are suffering hardship at this surreal time. But we feel an optimism that we will bounce back. It won’t be easy, but the spirit of humankind will prevail.

However, we will almost certainly be facing new horizons and how we respond to those challenges will determine our joint futures.

MMPI is reasonably optimistic. We need to be careful that we don’t overextend our enthusiasm for human ingenuity and cunning inventiveness. This has been a terrible event in history, but we really do believe that we can recover. We accept that there will be difficulties for sure, but we are convinced that together we can find a way through. For its part, MMPI will not be found wanting. We will continue to be here to help whatever way we can. In the immense words of Seamus Heaney; “If we winter this one out; we can summer anywhere!”

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