But More Importantly, What We Can Learn From This.
I know, everyone (including me) is tired of hearing about the Coronavirus, (or COVID-19) but looking beyond the panic toilet paper and pasta buying, it’s taught us important lessons about humanity.
History is being created everyday, and a hundred years from now, future humans (presuming we’re not all wiped out) will look back and probably laugh at the crazy videos of knife fights in supermarkets.
But the most important lesson we can take out of this saga is to question everything. We must take this opportunity and ask, just because it’s always been done that way, is that really the best way?
Take wiping your bottom. In western society, toilet paper is the preferred method, it’s presumed there will always be some available whenever we visit our friends, or a public restroom, and despite no lack of availability of this one commodity, a fear that it may run out, sent everyone into panic buying.
Meanwhile Philippino’s, Malaysians, Indians, Japanese, French, Italian and any other country that uses alternative bum cleaning methods are rolling around laughing at our stupidity.
Which begs the question, is toilet paper really necessary? It’s not as hygienic, as a bidet, it’s less economical and environmentally friendly as a bidet. Just how did toilet paper become the favourite?
This same principle could and should be applied everywhere else. Is fast fashion necessary? Is make-up necessary? Is going to a place of work necessary? Is Fiat currency necessary?
Just because something has been done or used by everyone before, does not mean it’s the best way to achieve something.
Next up, take CEO pay packets. It’s widely known that CEO’s earn substantially more than anyone else, creating a vast disparity in wealth, particularly in USA, Australia and the UK.
However as Alan Joyce, CEO of Qantas and Ed Bastian, CEO of Delta have announced, they will take zero pay for the next few months, one must ask the question, if they can afford to have no salary with little warning and for several months, do they even need such massive salaries in the first place?
If a CEO drops their salary, to ensure workers remain employed, and a company does not go under, then surely this same principle can be applied to everyday salaries, ensuring more liveable wages for workers, and a greater share of wealth?
As employees are sent home, to work remotely, to avoid further spread of the Coronavirus, is it not plainly obvious that the current structure of ‘going to work’ is in most cases, unnecessary and if it’s proven that many jobs can be done, from home or remotely, what does the future workplace look like?
Already digital nomads have kick-started the idea that with a laptop and wifi, work can be done anywhere, whether that be from a beachside cafe in Bali or a mountaintop bar in Switzerland.
If going to work, isn’t necessary, then central business districts become obsolete, companies can save on rent, employees get more quality time with family and zero commute means more time spent being productive.
If working from anywhere becomes the norm, then borders and visas become unnecessary.
Which brings us to date change and cancellation fees. During this confusing time, airlines and hotels have in many instances, waived cancellation fees, offering full refunds and free date change fees — including low cost carriers.
Which then prompts the question, if they can do this, why don’t they do this? Again it goes back to, ‘it’s always been done, so nothing has ever changed’.
When I worked in New Zealand, I was employed by one of the largest tech companies in the country and they also owned a bunch of travel websites. My role involved helping New Zealand tourism businesses to sell more of their own product, online.
The software running it all was clunky and had many features that either didn’t work, because there was a piece of broken code, or no-one knew what it did because they were too scared to push the button.
I was trained on the software by others using it, and the biggest thing I noticed was nobody knew how it worked from end to end.
The support staff only knew the functions they needed, the accountants only knew the accounting side, the developers only knew the backend. A common stance when asked by a customer, ‘can we have X functionality?’ was no, you can not.
So I took it upon myself to learn what everything the software was capable of. I pushed all the buttons, created test companies, ran A/B testing with actual clients and re-trained all the support staff to say yes, instead of no.
I also cut an accounting procedure from 13 steps down to 2 steps.
Within two years the travel websites (and I can say this now because they have since sold off those websites to another company, and this all happened years ago) went from making 4–5 million a year, to over 30 million dollars a year in profits, just because I questioned how things were done, and had the opportunity to do it differently.
Obviously it wasn’t all me, there was a team, there was also many factors involved, but the key takeaway was our biggest clients were offered additional features which made them more money, and thus our company made more money. So everybody won.
Whilst panic over a virus that for the most part, has shown the ugly side of humanity, the Coronavirus saga has also presented a wonderful opportunity, forcing us to look at every aspect of daily life, and ask ourselves, is this really necessary?
Often the answer will be a resounding, no.