Lessons learned from the pandemic
Life doesn’t come without setbacks and the past year with the pandemic and all its fallout have felt like a perpetual one that affected each of us, albeit in different ways. However, any setback can become an opportunity, provided lessons are learned along the way and looking back we see them as the catalyst that we needed. So in the spirit of ensuring our combined losses from the pandemic aren’t in vain, here are some of the lessons we can take to make our lives better going forward.
Lesson 1 - Family and relationships matters more than we realised
Being separated from our family members over the past year has been tough, especially for those who live alone but it has helped us appreciate and value the time we do share with them all the more. It has also been challenging on relationships for those who already live together but compromising and making sacrifices can lead to stronger and more stable relationships in the long term.
Lesson 2 - Be financially prepared
Throughout the years we’ve been helping our clients, some for decades, we have seen all forms of financial hardship and these often come without warning. From an individual perspective, it’s easy to dismiss as ‘it won’t happen to me’ but the pandemic has been different in that we have seen first hand that nothing is guaranteed.
It is now clear important it is to have savings on hand to be able to cover bills or expenses if you’re unable to work or if there is no work. With lockdown preventing us from spending, it has given us the perfect opportunity to put away those savings and build up our safety net.
Lesson 3 - Age is just a number
The virus claimed many over 80's but it also claimed many young people too. Yes, it’s good that our mortality is increasing but what it is for if it only extends the time we spend in morbidity.
The pandemic has been a reminder of the importance of a good diet, keeping mobile and active and getting enough sleep. Not only that but it has also raised our awareness of the fragility of our own health and given us the time off to focus on making the necessary changes for a healthier life.
We also saw Captain Sir Tom Moore very much still mobile at age 99 and raising over £30m for the NHS so whether it is a new career, hobby or cause - age is just a number, not a barrier. Bad health on the other hand certainly is.
Lesson 4 - Remote anything, anywhere
Necessity is the mother of reinvention. Working remotely up until recently was something only ‘new-age’ companies may do, but faced with little choice it seemed all companies adapted to make it work for them and it now feels a part of everyday life with even civil servants and bank employees being able to join in.
Of course, it certainly isn’t for everyone but it does provide us with the choice and flexibility to lead a more balanced life that suits our own needs and allows us to live further away from the office in more affordable areas. I’m sure no one missed being stuck in traffic every morning commute.
The pandemic has also helped the older generations embrace technology too and tech companies are developing more inventive ways to cater to their new audience. Some examples include Birdie Care which uses cloud and data processing to spot the early signs of health problems, Current Health who provide a remote patient monitoring platform with ICU-accurate wearable monitoring which can provide early warning alerts and allow video visits or Lifted and Care Sourcer where you can find, research and select a carer or care home within a few seconds.
It could give the NHS and GPs some breathing room too and make our own lives easier by being able to take advantage of remote doctor appointments. When it comes to chronic health conditions such as diabetes, being able to manage the health condition yourself is more important than the drive to see your doctor every once in a while.
Lesson 5 - Changing cities
"When you're alone and life is making you lonely, you can always go downtown,” Petula Clark sang in her 1964 chart-topping ode to city life. Well, things change. Suddenly, crowds are the enemy, public transport a health risk, packed offices too expensive and a house with some green space is attractive.
The pandemic has also accelerated the fourth industrial revolution which was already well underway. Retailers are struggling against online competitors, you can order a drink at the pub before you even get there yourself and in our own city Bristol there seems to be more electric scooters than cars.
Usually, if you have to get something in the centre of town it is because you can’t easily get it closer to home, and the aim of the game is to get what you need and get out as quickly as possible. As cities have grown, ideas such as Professor Carlos Moreno’s “La ville du quart d’heure” or “The 15 minute City” have been used to make sure everything anyone should need is within a 15-minute walk or bike ride from their home - whether that be work, shops, services, entertainment, education or healthcare. More recently the mayor of Milan piloted the same scheme and in Glasgow, the charity Sustrans Scotland is adopting a “20-minute neighbourhood principle”.
These ideas are not new and new variants are regularly thought up by alternative strategists but there is the potential that it could be different this time around. People have a much greater awareness of a healthy work-life balance and being greener, also with the help of modern technology, the pandemic could be the perfect catalyst needed to rethink and shape our cities of the future.