Author: Gary Hibberd
Date: 10th July 2020
Like all our CyberNatter events, we attract a diverse group of people who want to discuss our digital universe but look at it from a different point of view. We created the events because we know that Data and technical devices are a thing of everyday life.
With COVID19 creating a whole host of challenges for individuals and businesses, we wanted to explore what challenges the new rules on easement are creating, and how we need to combat them.
This week we turned to the thorny topic of ‘Travel in a post COVID19 world’.
You may wonder what that has to do with Cybersecurity or our digital world? Well… if you attended the event, you’d already know. If you didn’t, then allow me to explain.
What will travelling look like as lockdown eases?
We know that all sectors have been impacted by this pandemic, but few could argue that one of the hardest hit is the travel and leisure sector.
Whether it’s holidays, business travel or the daily commute, journeys quickly ground to a halt following the March 23 ‘lockdown’ announcement. But now things are starting to ease, will there be fewer passengers than before? In the session, Nick, who runs a Destination Management company, stated that the effect on his sector had been significant. Explaining that people are still nervous about booking travel, especially internationally; “International travel to conferences will be slow to return to normal, as it’s not seen as ‘essential travel’.
Stuart made the point that international travel will be problematic for some time to come, as the situation is still volatile; “What happens if you’re travelling to a city, and that country or region has to go into lockdown again? You, your families or your employees could be caught up in that, for a long time.”
I asked how many people had made holiday plans themselves, and had COVID19 been a deciding factor or consideration? Again, Stuart made the point that international travel would not be something he would be considering (for holidays) for some time.
Perhaps that’s a shining light for the local economy, as people elect to stay locally or remain in the UK to holiday. Of course, that’s no consolation for the airlines. This week we heard that there are 70 countries which the UK will be allowed to fly to, but it’s estimated that between 45-57% of flights will be lost in 2020. Ryanair is reporting that they will cut 3,500 jobs if pay cuts aren’t agreed, Aeromexico has filed for bankruptcy and Airbus has laid off 15,000 employees. No doubt this is troubling times for the international travel industry.
Graham made the point that it’s probably safer in an air-filtered air cabin than anywhere else, as air is filtered every 4 seconds! Of course, this doesn’t remove the anxiety and concerns that people have for travelling. This anxiety isn’t limited to the fear of contracting COVID19, but relates back to the point made by Stuart that international travel could result in restrictions being imposed during the time away; That risk is hardly conducive to a relaxing holiday!
Perhaps the National Geographic headline says it all: “Your daily commute won’t ever be the same”. We can’t know what the future holds but perhaps it will no doubt involve increased use of smartphone apps, touch-less payment and maybe even drivers in ventilated compartments!
Under existing legislation, an employer has a duty to ensure the health and safety of its employees. But this only includes a person’s workplace or sites visited as part of their role, not the commute to and from work. But that doesn’t mean we can ignore this. As Alsa said, “employees, clients and suppliers will be changing their approach to commuting, so we need to adapt and adopt new ways of operating.”
I’ve heard that some businesses are staggering work-shifts, so that offices and factories don’t become too crowded. And there is a lot of advice coming from the Government on helping organisations to understand what safeguarding controls they need to be implementing.
But does these measures ease employee anxiety?
To travel or not to travel; That is the question
I asked during the session if people had changed their holiday plans, the majority said that of course, COVID19 had been a factor in decisions being made. But what about employees? What about us, as suppliers? What are we hearing, and what advice are we receiving?
As places of work begin to open up, people are being encouraged to walk, cycle or drive to work, and wear face masks when travelling on public transport. But how many of us are adopting these new practices? It was remarked that some are looking forward to seeing what the new commute will look like, with the expectation that many people will adopt the new way of working. It would seem that ‘Telecommuting’ has returned!
It was agreed by everyone, however, that while we are all looking for clarity from central Government, we need to take personal responsibility and start talking to our teams and clients about what is and is not acceptable. An example was made, where one organisation had told an employee, it was ok for her to ‘telecommute’, in order to do their job. This decision was made with very little thought on the rest of the team, and business and perhaps has set a challenging president.
It highlights the need for organisations to speak to their teams about their anxieties, worries or concerns about returning to the office. Rather than putting in place measures that you ‘think’ are acceptable and ‘in line with Government policy’. Some people will prefer this new way of working, while others won’t.
Graham has a number of business interests including the “Business Catalyst Club”, in Leeds and Manchester, with many hundreds of people attending his events. He loves face-to-face human interaction and dislikes the online approach because he likes to connect personally with people. He made the very valid point that there were people on the CyberNatter that didn’t have their cameras on; “Why aren’t you showing your faces? I can’t do business with people I can’t see. I need to see you build trust.”
It’s an extremely valid point, and one I believe many haven’t understood in this climate where we ‘zoomed’ to do face-to-face via online services, but quickly this turned to ‘face-to-blank-screen’.
(Note: If you’re doing a webinar and you don’t have your camera on; The following happens; I will assume you have something to hide. I will disengage. I will probably read the slide and start scanning LinkedIn/Facebook. I will assume you’re doing the same when your camera isn’t on!)
Our final discussion centred on how we can protect ourselves and our workforce. But this blog is already too long! I’ve also not been able to quote everyone who contributed.
So if you’re interested to know how you can protect your workforce, you’ll have to watch the recording of the session. Perhaps next time we’ll see you at the CyberNatter. But remember to turn on your camera!
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