Pandemics Change the Way We Do Business

Three People Holding Their Phones And Taking Picture Of A Mona Lisa Painting

When I was a kid, there were no tamper seals on anything. I guess it was assumed that no one would ever mess with the foods and medicines we bought, until it happened with a bottle of Tylenol. Suddenly, it had to be taken into consideration that not everyone was benevolent and the business model had to change.

Though I’m no physician, I’m sure certain incidents have driven necessary changes to medical protocol. From what I understand, during the Black Plague, people desperately built pyres in the streets, attempting to “clean” the air. However, the resulting smoke did nothing to stop the disease.

At the time of this blog post, the world is staring down the barrel of COVID-19. Conspiracy theories and the fact that influenza is responsible for a lot more casualties aside, the Corona Virus is set to be a game changer. What technology has not already done to isolate us into virtual worlds of video games and social media, mandated social distancing will do.

Speaking of tech, I’ve been wondering for the past 20+ years how come downtown business districts still exist. Many jobs are able to be worked from home with an internet connection, a device, and the requisite trapdoor pajamas. Now that much of the world is being forced into this sort of isolation, maybe companies will see the advantage of removing the corporate overhead that involves expensive leases and huge buildings to do what can be accomplished in the comfort of employees’ homes.

Likewise, just as the need to go to huge movie theaters to catch the latest flick has been diminishing in lieu of simply streaming content from anywhere, times are a-changin’. I will take a moment to say that a nostalgic part of me misses the trips families took to the now-vastly-extinct drive-ins. However, though I love the rather concept of jockeying for a view from the backseat or doing battle with the mosquitos when we dared to sit outside in lawn chairs, drive-ins are antiquated as a business model. (I’m still hoping it comes back and finds a second wind, much like vinyl records, as a niche market.)

Food delivery has become a thing in the past decade. Currently, with most restaurants closed or at least modified to discourage close interaction, many are forced to order out and wait for their meals to be delivered. How will this up-jump the boogie when it comes to future business models for eateries? Will patrons be welcomed to dine in sterile pods with clear walls that allow us to see other folks and give us the illusion of socializing? Sounds like something from a Terry Gilliam movie but speculative fiction often becomes reality in some form.

So, what does all this mean for someone operating in a hu$tler’s mindset?

  1. Study trends and history, predicting the changes that will take place.
  2. Don’t get wrapped up in the fact that “this is the way we’ve always done business.”
  3. Realize that things must and do change.
  4. Prepare for and be flexible enough to adjust to those changes.

My expectation is that we’ll ride the wave of COVID-19 and more or less go back to the way things were. However, since we seem to have some sort of epidemic scare every few years (SARS, MERS, Mad Cow, Bird Flu, et al, I’m eyeballin’ your shady asses), we can expect to be here again a time or two before the end of the decade. If we don’t adjust this time around (because it is quite human to fight change), we’ll be forced to evolve the way business is done. So, get those trapdoor pajamas ready—the polka-dotted ones with the feet—because I’m predicting the home office will soon be the standard. Just you wait and see.

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