422 dead and 8,077 confirmed cases domestically. More than 17,000 deaths among close to 400,000 cases globally.
In response, the majority of us are advised to stay at home for at least 3 weeks – barring the most necessary excursions – while at-risk groups have been told to stay at home for the next 12 weeks and playgrounds, libraries and places of worship will all close immediately. In all but name, we are in lockdown.
Coronavirus has inspired an unnatural experiment, forcing us to face a question that would have otherwise been unthinkable: What if, as a nation, our lives existed in a single place for the foreseeable future?
The awkwardly square-pegged genie simply isn’t going back in the round-shaped, rose-tinted bottle. Our world, only recently distorted, has irrevocably changed and a revolution is taking shape in parallel isolation; in bedrooms, kitchens and living rooms across the U.K.
We’ve spent parts of the last two issues in this series considering historical references to the current pandemic – it’s hard not to in such rarefied times. Today, we look forward to detail the ongoing change in our relationship with home, work and everyday life.
However traditional your mindset or model, chances are your day-to-day has been digitised in recent years. Freelancers and companies built on technology have long-embraced remote working and a suite of tools aimed at unbundling email (Slack) and SMS (Whatsapp), or virtualising communication (Zoom, Hangouts).
Because they also carry the by-product of connecting us personally & emotionally, and not just professionally, messaging & conferencing software has swiftly become universal, irrespective of where you usually work. Internal conversations have already transitioned online, but many companies have maintained face-to-face dialogue at the sharp end of negotiations with clients & prospects. Personal connections win out and are easier to foster in the same locale.
Mainstream adoption of digital alternatives is now obligatory. Companies and workers alike will realise that a journey back and forth for anything perfunctory is no longer required. Indeed, should an accountant or productivity proponent get their way, then few physical meetings of minds may be deemed essential moving forward.
This helps to clear space in diaries and avoid the need for workers to base themselves at the office. Again, forced adoption and preparation of work from home protocols will green light many to contribute remotely, either regularly – WFH Wednesday will be a thing – or occasionally (traffic / weather / wellbeing dependent).
We’re distant & stationary. We’re connected and limitless.
Remote working isn’t new, even if it has yet to be broadly adopted. Widespread incarceration, albeit in our own homes, certainly is.
Freelancers – pray for freelancers – will know how hard it is to train yourself to separate home from work when the two physically overlap. Those that live with freelancers are familiar with the strains too.
Families, friends, spouses and cohabitants are now forced to coexist. And at a time when many forms of live entertainment – sports and festivals, for example – are no longer able to train us into a single direction. There are only so many box sets people.
Delivery options are in decline from today as operators’ mothball after yesterday’s news. Some will remain but many of your takeaway favourites will be taken away, literally.
Arts & craft purchases are skyrocketing. Crochet, knitting, weaving. You name it. People you know are optimistically seeing this is as a time for self-improvement and ordering yarn. Or weights. Or downloading Duolingo, Sidechef or Headspace. There’s only so much Insta-scrolling you can handle folks.
When people do leave the house, they’re buying more across fewer visits. Cash is less utile as many of the purchases that create it (coffee, snacks etc.) are bundled into larger purchases, sponsored by credit & debit cards. If the novel coronavirus wasn’t already picking off the most vulnerable amongst us, technology has it covered.
Shops are reinforcing domestic supply chains in favour of stalling European manufacturers. Retail stores, no longer able to trade on the premise of ‘you need to be seen in this’ are ramping up promotions; few are listening.
Coronavirus has been in the general lexicon (more on the language used in the campaign here) since early 2020. We’re only a couple of weeks into the radical steps that now shape our existence, however.
It’s early. Prognostications are as volatile as the markets today and we simply don’t know what tomorrow will bring. But today, our world changed.