It has “only” been 3 weeks since the UK was on lockdown, but it has been longer for other countries such as France, Spain and Italy. Spain’s state of emergency was declared March the 13th, Friday the 13th– not the luckiest day.
Since then children have not been allowed out of the house and many who live alone and who are able to work from home have only been able to go out for food and medicine. No being let out for exercise, which is the opposite what we have seen in most other countries in Europe and the US.
The first published coronavirus cases in UK was January 31st. However, it took nearly 2 months for the UK government to put measures in place to prevent this virus spreading and they went into lockdown March 24th. There were many reasons they delayed this, perhaps the most obvious was the impact on the economy which we have all felt. Many other governments were very slow to react and those who were the slowest have seen the highest number of cases such as USA, Spain and Italy with cases in UK growing at a fast rate.
Countries that handled the COVID19 situation the best are now seeing the lockdown measures released slowly. This week we saw Denmark open up its hair dressers and schools for those under 11, Norway as well and Germany relaxes its shop closures.
Other countries are waiting with baited breath for what will happen to their countries and it led me to wonder how we can plan for the deconfinement. For some of us we may have a lot of time to plan. In Italy, apparently their lockdown will end May 4th. For France it is May 11th and for Spain, there have been talks of May 9th, but they can move them. The government has been extending the lockdown period by 15 days every week.
How can we prepare for the unlock down and will it be enough?
Move more jobs online
We have seen more people (who are able to) work from home so that they can keep their jobs. Working from home (WFH) is doing well for many online businesses and hopefully with us seeing the end of the lockdown those who were against remote work can see the benefit. Before this lockdown we already saw some people wanting to WFH but many were against it. Who can forget this post back in 2013 when Marissa Mayer, the CEO of Yahoo stopped employees WFH. Since then many tech companies have banned WFH policy and treated remote working as a perk to the job.
Buffer carried out a great study where they asked nearly 2,500 remote workers to tell them the pros and cons of work, “what remote work looks like in their individual experience, and the structure of their companies that allowed for remote work in the first place.” A flexible schedule is the biggest benefit to remote work. Followed by working from any location and then spending time with family. What is interesting is that 91% of respondents who are business owners selected that they had always intended to support remote work. That was up from 88% in 2018’s report. I wonder if this will increase for next year.
Those who have been able to work from home are lucky, they have a job. But what about those stores that do not have an online presence or companies that have never thought about having an online presence. Fellow State of Digital writer, Chris Green has set up an initiative, Helping Small Biz with two others to help those businesses move online. This is great but more should be done by the government. They should be supporting people who have their own small business and there should be funding for those to move online for those who can.
Prioritise the environment
Moving towards a looking after the environment ties into working from home as we spend a lot of time commuting and generating pollution. In a recent article in the Guardian, road traffic in the UK fell to 1955 levels. The BBC published a study last month, on the 27th of March and reported that the levels of pollution in New York had been reduced by nearly 50% since the previous year. In China, they saw emissions fall by 25% at the beginning of the year. Within just 14 days of Spain’s lockdown they also noticed a drop in pollution. In Madrid, for example, the average level of nitrogen dioxide recorded on March 17 was almost 75% lower than the previous week and in Barcelona, it fell by over 45%. Venice which is normally packed full of tourists has seen their canals with crystal clear waters, the first time in years.
I wonder if we will see a reduction in the cost of the London Transport System which is all privately funded and as a result one of the most expensive in the world. TFL already are giving refunds to travel cards but hopefully the government in the future will help subsidise the costs as people will not be in a rush to pay thousands of pounds a year to commute back into the office if they still have a job.
Invest in Plastic Alternatives and Become Less Materialistic
This ties in with the environment. We have still created a lot of waste with the plastic gloves we need, some of the masks. I appreciate these cannot be recycled but what about the packaging for foods and the plastic toiletries we have? Will there more companies looking at plastic alternatives? I was looking online and there were not many recent posts about it. This article was interesting and Buschsystems went into details about alternatives. However I know that when it comes to food, many companies are to blame. Those black food containers cannot be recycled and shops such as Waitrose, M &S are guilty of using them, perhaps they should be looking into alternatives as I found here. More money should be invested for alternatives to plastic.
The shut down of many shops outside of essential items leads me to wonder if there will be a decline in fast fashion. I know with the likes of Zara, Mango, H &M, Gap, Forever21 and many more, we all have too much “stuff”. I was reading this article which says that “in 15 years, we’ve reduced the number of times we wear clothes by 36 percent.” I do like to keep hold of my clothes longer than the averaged but I was still surprised to see that annually, wearable clothing worth $460 billion is thrown away and that each American throws away 80 pounds of clothing per year on average.” What a complete waste and where do these clothes go?
Second hand shops are popular in some countries such as the UK, Australia (called the Op shop) and in the US (Thrift store) but I have not seen them in France or Spain yet. Maybe we will see more of these opening as it is far better for the environment to buy second hand clothes.
Look After Yourself and Your Family
You should plan to prioritise yourself more if you have not been doing this before the lockdown. This means spending more time to do the things that you want to do, including spending more time with family. Work and family always seem to be on opposite sides of the scale, if you spend more time with family, work suffers or perhaps your job does not let you take much time off. With the lockdown, many of us who do not live with their parents or siblings have not seen one another for several weeks and those who live a plane ride or two away, for several months.
Be in the best possible health state. My housemate is a doctor in A and E and he finds the patients that have COVID19 are in poor health. These are not old, 80/90 years and plus people, they are the young. BUT these young patients that have COVID19 seriously are over weight and some of them smoke. More than 6 million people die of smoke related illnesses globally each year and with COVID19, this means this number could increase.
Webinars and Conferences
I am surprised by the sheer number of online courses there are now during the lockdown and I have started some of these but also wanted to share what others are doing. Learn Inbound and The Coloring in Department has partnered up to provide this Mini Google Analytics Course. It started this Monday and it finishes this Friday, loads of valuable tips.
Luke Carthy launched his “Let’s Talk Shop” free webinar this past week focusing on ecommerce growth. Tea Time SEO is organised by Authoritas and takes place at 4pm daily where there are up to three speakers sharing their tips on SEO and Reporting in this free webinar. I am organising “Turn Digi” a free online conference taking place April 30th featuring 16 speakers from 8 different countries. We will run a second one May 13th, if you would like to get involved, please let me know.
Moz Academy courses are now available for free, but you need to register before May 31st. Link Research Tools are also offering their course for free until the end of May. Ahrefs has also launched their Blogging for Business Course for free.
I would hope after all of this, the governments will be investing more in health care. According to the European Commission, Spain spent 9.2% of GDP on health care or 2,374 Euros per capita in 2015. The EU average was 9.9% but this is not enough. Spanish tax residents are certainly paying a lot in social security contributions and up to 45% in tax too. It is said that Spain has one of the best healthcare systems in the world yet the doctors are paid one of the lowest salaries in Europe.
Looking at the UK, then a report from 2016 shows that the total current healthcare expenditure in the UK was 9.8% of gross domestic product (GDP), which was higher than the median for (OECD) Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development member states. However, this was the second lowest of the seven nations in the G7. As I mentioned in a previous post, The NHS will break with this coronavirus as the UK already has already seen a number of cuts instead of having that £350 million a week ploughed into as was promised by Boris Johnson.
You do not need to come out of lockdown being a master in yoga or have ripped abs after doing your HIT (high intensity training) sessions daily but you should make a plan to start now to get healthy. For some people being in quarantine was one of the busiest times of their working lives so do not feel guilty if you have not completely the checklist of things you wanted to get done.
It is important to be kind. We should all be coming out of quarantine being more tolerant of one another, have realistic expectations (work and personal) and enjoy the simple things more. I for one will be looking forward to just sitting outside in the park, going for a run or wondering about the town (with no purpose) without a fear of the police giving me a 600 Euros fine.