So, is Numerology Bunkum?

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newspaper headline Now Coronavirus Hits Westminster

At the end of last year we welcomed in 2020 with a cheerful note on what we had to look forward in this year of symmetrical numbers.

We cheerily looked at the positives we, as a health and safety industry, could take from Brexit, Data/Technology and Wellness, and did this with the backdrop of the Numerologists’ view that 2020 would “calm you down, focus you on what matters, and ultimately support you to build your dreams”.

How’s that working out so far?

The coronavirus pandemic has literally created havoc and, if we’re unlucky, we may find we’re only at the end of the beginning rather than the beginning of the end. Tragically, thousands have already lost their lives.

The Numerologists may have been correct in 2020 helping “focus you on what matters” but, broadly speaking, I doubt we’re going to be looking back on this year as anything other than a social and economic disaster.

Notwithstanding the loss of life and the potential/likely economic hardships, there must be silver lining. Mustn’t there?

Economist Joseph Schumpeter (probably pre-WWII) argued that “crises were seedbeds of innovation and entrepreneurship” and, more recently (largely this century), a whole social science has emerged around disaster resilience.

Looking for the silver lining, what positive social change might we see emerge from the coronavirus pandemic?

Two candidates have [obviously] emerged thus far. There will doubtless be others but might coronavirus lead to positive social change in these two areas?

Flexible Working

Will a directive to work from home (as far possible) lead to a) businesses realising that productivity didn’t fall as a result and may have even risen, and b) employees finding that life without the commute produced less stress and an overall improvement in wellbeing?

Could we, as a result, become more like the Finns whose Working Hours Act already enables employees (by law) to determine where they work for up to half of their working hours? The Finns are remarkable for the levels of trust that exists within their society and, hopefully, a realisation by UK employers that working from home is a good option, and not a negative in terms of productivity, will start to re-establish that trust between UK employers and employees.

Air Travel

Whether by choice or government directive, the amount of us travelling anywhere for any reason is going to drop dramatically over the coming months. Might that help us realise that video conferencing can be a good substitute for some percentage of the business trips we often take? Or that holidaying at home has some unique benefits over flying abroad?

Doubtless the planet will thank us and our regional interconnectivity will attract the investment required to replace air travel. Let’s hope so.

We’re in the midst of uncertain times. Coronavirus presents a serious danger to vulnerable groups within our society and is a major worry to many of us with friends and family in those vulnerable groups. As we deal with its reality and ramifications let’s do what we can to ensure some positive social change occurs.

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