The pandemic has already changed life as we knew it significantly — from our social lives to our work.
For many, lockdown was a shock to the system. But how have we adjusted to this ‘new normal’, and will these changes have a lasting impact?
Our personal and social lives
No Sunday roasts at the pub with family or friends. No sports on the TV or trips to watch your favourite team play. No access to gyms or other leisure facilities. Endless cancelled holidays.
How could we possibly cope? Surprisingly well actually. In true British fashion, many have taken the ‘keep calm and carry on’ approach and chosen to make the best out of a bad situation.
While socially distanced, we’ve stayed connected to friends and family all over the country through the internet. Pubs and restaurants have set up takeaway services which have been hugely successful with customers keen to keep their favourite local in business. And people have taken to holidaying in the UK, finding often overlooked gems right on their doorstep.
This time at home has also allowed us to explore hobbies and interests we wouldn’t have had time to do before. Whether it’s finally getting around to cooking those recipes we’ve been saving for months, trying our hand at arts and crafts, taking on a new DIY project or finishing that book or Netflix series.
Just as our weekly Sunday roast has been disrupted, so have many other traditions. For Halloween, typical trick or treating antics were put on hold in favour of (more social-distance appropriate) scary movie nights, household pumpkin carving contests and pumpkin-spotting trails.
With England going back into lockdown on (remember, remember) the 5th of November, gunpowder, treason and plot could easily have been forgotten. But despite the absence of the usual professional fireworks displays, Bonfire Night was still aglow as people put on their own shows at home. Alexandra Palace, which usually hosts the biggest display in London, even screened its full 20-minute fireworks extravaganza from 2019 online for people to enjoy. Are we likely to see something similar for the annual New Year’s Eve celebrations?
Then there’s also the question of Christmas. While we don’t yet know how December is going to pan out, the festive season will undoubtedly be a little different this year…
Yet, probably the most significant change for most people around the UK is their work environment (and our collective attitude towards work). When the first lockdown was announced in March, many businesses were forced to send employees home to work. But this is one change that’s likely to stay long after restrictions are loosened, and the pandemic is over.
Going forward, we’re likely to see a more blended approach to work, where employees work from home two or three days a week and only go into the office for meetings. Many companies may even decide to renounce the expense of leasing office space entirely, allowing all employees to work remotely instead.
This, in turn, could lead to a considerable shift in workplace culture and expectations, where employees are valued on how well they meet their targets, not how many hours they spend in the office. As such, flexitime is likely to become much more common — could we even see the disappearance of the 9–5 altogether?
Let’s not forget manufacturing
Of course, this shift to remote working won’t be possible for all industries. While office employees can shift to working from home relatively easily, most factories are not designed to be managed remotely. And as an electronics manufacturing services provider, we couldn’t look at the changes COVID-19 has brought to the UK without mentioning manufacturing.
In the short term, manufacturing was hit hard by the pandemic. Depending on the sectors they serve, some companies struggled to keep up with demand while others faced pressure to cut operational costs as demand dropped. But every manufacturer will have faced disruptions across their supply chains and struggled to maintain productivity while adhering to social distancing measures.
However, these challenges could bring long-term opportunities for manufacturing — including moving operations closer to home, decoupling supply chains to make them more flexible and resilient, and introducing AI and IoT technologies to improve automation and digitisation.
History teaches us that short-term measures taken in response to global crises lead to changes that last for decades. Change doesn’t have to be a bad thing, though. While many are eager to get back to the pubs and ‘the way things were’, this time has helped us all to take a step back, appreciate the little things and find innovative ways to make the most of what we’ve got.
What most of us consider ‘normal’ has already fundamentally shifted, and those who have adapted well to this ‘new normal’ will have ample growth opportunities.
Got any questions about how COVID might affect our electronics manufacturing services or your upcoming projects? Get in touch with the team today.