Dicken’s Tale of Two Cities starts with “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times”, that sums up our world today, doesn’t it?
Whilst pondering the longer-term impacts of coronavirus I’ve made some assumptions. Firstly that a fully operational vaccine is still some time off, that it won’t be effective for life (given other coronavirus vaccines) and that it won’t be universally used. If those things prove true then there will be SARS-CoV2 endemic in the population indefinitely. That changes the prospects for society at large.
The change that’s already here.
The first big change is that we have learned both to work from home and companies have realised the benefits to them. Office space left empty for two-thirds of the day, and crammed for the other third already seems like an anachronistic overhang from the production line industrial approach of the Victorians. If office values and rents with them collapse, then business finances shift. Some businesses will fail from the debt they carry funded by rental revenues, others will reinvent themselves. What then for office blocks? How many will become mixed-use; housing, infrastructure and office space co-located?
Travel too, we’ve learned we can meet remotely, and effectively, so how much of the planned expansions in travel infrastructure, HS2, the Heathrow expansion etc, stack up of where we are matters far less in the doing of business. These plans may be pushed through for the employment they create in the building of them, but that they deliver the benefits the proponents foresaw a year ago? That’s much less likely. If travel diminishes there are implications for the long term viability of airlines, hotels and train companies. Primarily that is because of their historic levels of debt and the implied occupancy rates just to fund it. New businesses, different businesses, will fill the gaps.
There are implications too for close contact mass gatherings. Sport, and other entertainment, may never be the same again. Humans are adaptable, the way we enjoy the collective atmosphere of thousands together sharing the same emotional highs and lows that a concert, or football game, can create, may be generated differently. Technology, such as the internet, will surely play a part here. Some venues, and businesses will fail, others will adapt, new things will appear.
Building Better Business
I turned to think about Building Better Business in this changing world. If we can live and work and enjoy entertainment from anywhere, then business can source it from anywhere too. The price of general labour will fall, except where that labour has a place value. We cannot repair a roof, or assemble a car remotely, not yet at least. Yet the opportunity to bring our skills to a global audience is also clearly present. Knowing your skill, signposting why you are the only person who does precisely what you do, will change the nature of knowledge-based businesses. Specialists will attract wealth that will bypass generalists. Bigger businesses will source the precise expertise they need from the best in the world. It better be you.
What will you do to maximise the opportunities?
Explore how you could be Building Better Business – Book a call with William by clicking here