A Think piece: By Winston Sutherland – 27 June, 2020

Hardly a day has gone by since February, without grim news about the ravages of Covid. The SARS Covid 19, properly known as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 which was first discovered in 2019 has been on a march across the globe from Wuhan, China to Italy, to Spain, the United Kingdom, The United States of America and now Brazil. The epicenter of the virus has waged a grim war. The toll has been high. We have seen the daily reports of persons testing positive for the virus. We have seen the spikes in admission. We have seen the numbers of the dead climb. Higher and higher. We have seen the most extraordinary and appalling and catastrophic leadership. We have seen system failure. It’s been numbing. Frightening. Lonely.

The experience of this pandemic is like nothing we have seen in my lifetime and a lot has happened. Good things and bad things. Amazing things. Exiting things. I have experienced days when the world stopped or felt like it stopped. Days like the death of John F Kennedy. The day Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon. The release of Nelson Mandela from prison and his rise to the highest seat in the land. We have seen the invention of the iPhone in 2007 which revolutionized the world as we knew it and which quite frankly is a modern day miracle. I actually advocate sainthood for Steve Jobs. If he had given the blueprint to someone to develop they could never have created what we now have. Why? It starts in the mind and only he could see it. So, we had those events and more but we have never seen anything like the Covid 19 pandemic. This has been mind boggling. The year 2020 was proceeding like a normal year January, February and next it’s……………June and fingers crossed to December. Is that a roller coaster ride or what?

But …’every cloud has a silver lining’

But there is a bright side to all this gloom and doom and misery. “Every cloud has a silver lining” Oh? Yes! Er, well…. here are four: First, we have been more productive working from home. We have proved that working from home is a viable way to work. We have upended the myth that work takes place in a place. We now know that work is not somewhere we go, work is something we do. Secondly, we have been more innovative. I grew up in Jamaica where we had the expression, ‘tun you han’ mek fashin’ the literal translation is ‘turn your hand and make fashion’. That means nothing to an English speaker but is the equivalent of ‘necessity is the mother of invention’. We now use the term innovation but it really is the same as inventing new things because just like innovation, every invention starts with an idea.

“I advocate sainthood for Steve Jobs”

Third, we have used technology to get stuff done like never before. From setting up home offices, to carrying out the business of our organisation to getting services from a range of providers. I have seen people who could barely operate their computers now zooming in and zooming out. Popping into this meeting. Hopping off and dashing off to another zoom room. Just like the old normal. We are as busy as ever. Even if we never leave the house for an entire week. Our eyes are wide open to the possibilities.

“We have upended the myth that work takes place in a physical place”

Fourth, Covid has been good for the environment too. The earth has had a chance to breathe. Previously hidden mountain peaks are now visible as the smog clears. Traffic! What traffic? It’s smooth sailing to work? Well, to wherever.

“The earth has had a chance to breathe.”

And one last thing before I run out of space. Families have spent time together. They have had time to have conversations, eat meals, cooked at home, together. And parents are now really clued up about school and have learnt how to enable distance learning for the little ones. It’s been a revolutionary learning experience and there have been instances of inspirational leadership. So, there’s a lot of good that we can take away from what has otherwise been an awful experience. Don’t you think? What have I missed?