I’m here with the COVID-19 continuity update for Australian businesses on 31st August.
There has been a lot of discussion in the media recently about the key issues of vaccines and lifting the lockdown. While we are all looking forward to both of these, I feel it’s important to have a realistic perspective rather than an overly optimistic one.
Across the world, there are many entities working on a vaccine however I believe that we can’t pin our hope on it in the short term. The media (and even some politicians) are hyping up the fanfare about access to a vaccine, but the reality is that it is not as simple as developing a vaccine, distributing it and the virus will go away.
If we have a quick look at the history of some diseases and their vaccines, we’ll see this is a complex matter:
- HIV – in the 40+ years that the disease has been medically recognised, there has not been an effective vaccine produced. To date, there have only been therapeutics that lessen the impact of the disease;
- Dengue Fever – a vaccine was produced but it was shown to exacerbate symptoms in some people. Now it is only used in very limited conditions;
- Flu – the influenza virus (similar to COVID-19) mutates so fast that new vaccines are required each year, and often don’t provide protection for the full year.
Transmission of COVID-19
We are learning more and more as we see where outbreaks occur and can better understand the conditions that give rise to these outbreaks.
Back in April it was understood that the virus was being predominantly transmitted via touch and so we were told that the main preventative action was to regularly wash our hands. Now there is scientific proof that the virus is also spread as an aerosol; this changes the way we consider avoiding it entering our workplaces. If you have time, this article is worth reading: https://time.com/5883081/covid-19-transmitted-aerosols/
Removal of Restrictions in Victoria
Today the Victoria government advised that they will release a “roadmap to easing restrictions” on Sunday 6th September. Then later today the government conducted private briefings to selected business leaders and reporters advising the conditions for reopening businesses. These conditions include moving meetings and lunch breaks outside and reprogramming office air conditioning units to avoid recirculated air. Also included in the conditions are many of the initiatives that Tenfold clients have already adopted, including setting up A and B teams to avoid mixing team members. More details on these conditions will be released in the coming week.
We’re getting a clear message from the Victorian government the economy won’t immediately open up again after we hit 14th September or even if we see the daily infection rates reduce to single digits.
What we are hearing is that there will be a stage-gated easing of the restrictions, with each step announced, implemented and then reviewed to ensure infections don’t escalate. In Victoria, we can expect that the restrictions we move to after 14th September will more likely feel like a lessening of stage 4, rather than feeling like the more relaxed conditions of stage 3 or 2.
For our NSW and Queensland clients it’s welcome news to hear that community infection levels in those states remain low and tougher restrictions seem less likely.
The purpose of this briefing isn’t to say it’s all doom and gloom. What we’re experiencing won’t be like this forever but it’s important to deal with what IS, not what you wish it were. My advice is:
Don’t be passive and pin your hopes on everything sorting itself out in the short to medium term; we might be living with this virus for longer than we think and we might need to continue to adapt our businesses accordingly. In the principle of “survival of the fittest”, the “fittest” term refers to being the best fit for the conditions, the one most able to adapt to survive in its environment.
At times individuals in the government and the media have encouraged business to “pivot to your version of takeaway”, however, we know as seasoned business owners that it’s nowhere near as simple as that. Adapting a business takes detailed thought, planning, modelling and that’s before you start to implement. I commend every one of you for your spirit in adapting to this stage. Whether it is assessing your target markets, altering systems and processes or communicating changes to your team, keep working through these with your coach to get the best outcome for the short to medium term.
Mindset to manage through this time
I can sense that the federal and state governments are seeing the community’s fortitude to deal with the restrictions wane. You will have noticed we’re getting more announcements (and advertising) promoting messages of ‘stick with it’ and ‘look forward to this’.
During the first lockdown we had people dressing up in costumes to take their bins out and people putting teddy bears in their windows, whereas in this second lockdown in Victoria, there’s a much more subdued response.
The key point I want to make about mindset is one I took from Viktor Frankl’s book;
Viktor Frankl was an Austrian holocaust survivor and prominent neurologist and psychiatrist. When speaking of his experience in the concentration camps, Frankl recalls that those who survived were not optimists, nor pessimists, but the realists in the middle. The pessimists lacked hope, the optimists relied too much on hope and couldn’t handle it when hope failed to become reality, while the realists dealt with the situation at hand. In summary, it’s hoping for the best but planning for the worst.
Tomorrow is the first day of spring. Enjoy the longer days and the warmer weather and make sure you get plenty of vitamin D.
Ashley Thomson B.Eng(Hons), Grad. Dip. Mgmt, MEI
Tenfold Business Coaching