We are living in a science-fiction movie. A microscopic, nonliving bundle of molecules has brought everything to a screeching halt. The entire planet is united in a singular effort to defeat the invader through something they’re calling “social distancing”. It’s a fragmented, passive war against a foe that strikes tornado-style; your street may be untouched, while houses a block away are completely gone.
As we worry about the pandemic’s impact on our health and the economy, while our kids stage anti-homework riots, it is probably wise to shut off the infoglut and just be. There’s simply too much information coming in right now—much of it incorrect and misguided—for anyone to waste their energy processing.
But process it we do, because we are too curious and concerned to ignore it.
We’re watching the numbers plateau, confirming that the social distancing strategy is working. The past few days have been brighter, with discussions about reopening the economy. But for those who’ve lost loved ones to this invisible enemy, the damage is already done.
So, we work from home, attend video meetings, and embark on largely fruitless missions to supermarkets for toilet paper, bleach wipes, hand sanitizer and pet food. There are weird patterns of empty shelves appearing in supermarkets; one day all the chicken vanishes, but the red meat is untouched. Another day they hit the eggs. On some days, not a jar of peanut butter or pasta sauce can be found. Without warning, the entire stock of cat litter disappears, which makes one wonder about animal rescue shelters, and how they are being affected.
Are these people communicating with each other through some unknown medium (CB radio?) or is it merely flocking behavior copied inside stores in real time? This situation is being created by people living in the Fear Zone (see below) shown in this excellent diagram taken last week from LinkedIn:
It helps to imagine most people are passing from the Learning Zone into the Growth Zone as we come out of the initial state of shock and settle in for the long(ish) wait. We at Solidus are certainly trying.
Our marketing and sales people have convened on several video calls these past weeks, most of which were focused on how to remain on our clients’ radar while avoiding crass promotion of our services. It is a tricky dance, and nobody is taking any of this lightly or trying to take advantage of people under stress. The sales team is reaching out to industry friends and acquaintances with a different intent: we just want to make sure they’re OK.
There’s also a need to be upbeat and positive and, within working environments and on social networks, there is a terrific sense of humor keeping people afloat. If your Facebook messages have been anything like mine, you’re being bombarded daily by numerous memes and videos that range from mildly irritating to totally hilarious.
There’s a lot of speculation about how this pandemic will change the world. Ideas seem to be forming along a spectrum from “there will be less hot-desking and more working from home”, to “the aliens are coming to destroy capitalism and save us”. A colleague found a new expanded version of the previous diagram the other day, with an additional “Action Zone” that gives you an idea of how certain people are thinking:
There’s no question that we will do things differently once this situation is under control, but what that really means nobody knows. Our company’s chief focus is construction for the financial industry, and it’s fast becoming apparent that retail banking’s long march towards digital-only activity has been catalyzed by the pandemic. Smaller, teller-less, fully automated branches will proliferate. Video banking in all its forms will replace some of the traditional face-to-face activities of the past. Fortunately, we’ve been anticipating a move towards these exact types of facilities for a few years now; we’ve already built several and have plans in place for many more. We are also responding rapidly to the need for prophylactic protective measures inside branches by developing a COVID-proof kit for retail banking environments.
But for now, we wait. The reopening of the economy—and of our lives—is coming.