The changing world we live in, with COVID-19 on our minds

MIke Horsten  April 30, 2020

Times have changed.

We need to keep a social distance – strange terminology, as being 'social' is getting close to each other. We are working via Zoom, Skype and other platforms, meaning we don't get to talk and gossip around the coffee machine anymore. All the essentials we experience as human beings at work are taken away by something we can't see, smell or feel. That is really creepy. 

I find it strange that people are not communicating with their peers, but are complimenting them on the great job they are doing on LinkedIn and other social platforms. Perhaps people are worried they will lose their job so are complimenting the boss. Kudos and praise given in this way won't help your motivation nor your career.  

Of course, we are all worried about our future, it will not look or feel the same way as we have been living for the last 100 years, but some good will come out of all this. Think about how to make things better. Open your mind to new opportunities and initiatives. Don't stay in your home office waiting for that call but proactively reach out to your fellow workers and customers. 

Don't fall into the trap of those great publicity initiatives; some are just plain sad. I'm a strong believer that making PPE and protection gear for key workers is a noble thing, but it's not a sustainable solution. Beer and ink companies making disinfectants is amazing, but they had most of the ingredients, the packaging machines and the technology for distribution already in house to make this happen.

Graphics equipment manufacturers cutting and sewing face masks for PPE is also a great, noble way of helping – but again it's not sustainable. Showroom machines are production machines, but our infrastructure is not geared to work that way. Instead, we need to build solutions for our customers, new machines that can produce this personal protection equipment fast and efficiently now and for the long term. We need to be the facilitators for the market.  

Here is a small calculation. In the Netherlands we have a population of 17 million people. All need masks that cover the nose and mouth, as the government and the WHO have stipulated, and you need to replace these masks at least three to four times a day. So, if 50% of the Dutch population need a mask, we would need 44 million masks a day or 1.3 billion a month – and that is only for the Netherlands. The same goes for gloves and other protective coverings.

We don't have the resources to make enough acrylic plastics, let alone all these masks worldwide. I'm also not even talking about the environmental catastrophe for all that waste.   I'm not a virologist or doctor – and don't want to be either – but we have to keep our heads clear of panic.

So what then?
I would advise you to call your customers, ask them if they need your help, provide helpful suggestions for new products that are needed today. Making signage for floors and printing social distancing signs is one way to offset your commercial production. Companies who are making products today should invest in training their staff for the future, reorganising their logistics and maybe even their administration. Look at your stock: is it still all good and useful? There are many ways to keep your company afloat. Get help from consultants to come out stronger after the pandemic. 

Soon things will return to normality and we will look back at this with a smile – because we made it happen. Please keep supporting the health workers, protect older people and try to reduce your own stress. Soon it will be summer so enjoy the sun and spend time with your family and friends – even if it's a FaceTime call away.  

Stay strong, stay safe.