I’m writing this on the 15th June 2020 as many retailers are bravely opening their premises again after an enforced three month hiatus. The coronavirus and subsequent lockdown has radically changed the business world in a short period of time. We’ve found new ways to communicate and meet and we’ve managed through necessity to expertly curate work, childcare and leisure. I find it interesting that many are using the phrase that they’re ‘re-open’ and it’s left me wondering about it’s application.
The virus and the increased role of the state has magnified inequality, racism and structural divisions over this period. Key workers have long been the victims of the prejudices in our society and up until recently have received little recognition for their efforts. I like to think that as individuals we are open to recognising their sacrifice over this period with more than just a weekly hand clap, a deeper understanding is necessary of the workforce that keeps us all healthy and fed.
Businesses need to give more employment and managerial opportunities to under represented groups and be less focused on pure profits. A different dialogue is required to help us to be more community minded and kinder. We should be sensitive and more tolerant to the needs of BAME groups and stop the divisive narrative that’s been circulating about immigration. Private businesses can take a leading role in this debate.
Local retailers and traders need our support to continue trading and it’s important to recognise that they offer a different service to e-commerce stores. I’m not sure if the ‘race to the bottom’ narrative will help us in the future when we’re faced with fewer independent retailers in our town centres. Can we be open to supporting local business and relying a little less on a delivery slot?
The rush hour has historically been the most stressful period of the day. Will employers continue to focus on the safety of their workers by minimising their contact during this congested period? The ability of remote workers to video conference and utilise cloud software will I hope see a new dawn where there’s a greater openness to agile working. Splitting days in the office, encouraging reduced hours where possible and keeping people off the roads will be of huge benefit to workers and society.