12 August, 2020

What can we learn from the Corona Virus Pandemic?

27 March, 2020

Chris Buxton – BFPA CEO


To suggest that the current pandemic of Corona virus or COVID-19 is having a major societal impact both within industry, government and at an individual level, is a gross understatement of the obvious. Indeed, the ‘crisis’ (if I may use the term without being accused of joining the press in sensationalising and exacerbating the situation through over reaction), is changing so rapidly, that this article may be out of date before it reaches the readers desk! It is without doubt, a very serious situation and we should all take whatever rational steps are proportionate and necessary to support our employees and the Government in stemming the spread of the virus.

Like many of its member companies, the BFPA has issued guidance to its staff and is monitoring the situation on a daily basis. All International travel has been suspended and we are reviewing the short to medium term meeting schedule so as to avoid incurring any unnecessary risk. We have also engaged with Government (specifically BEIS), in helping to distribute and circulate targeted e-mail communications offering the most up to date Government advice to our members.

But without wishing to be accused of diluting the importance of the precautionary message, like all crises, although it may not be obvious at the moment, there may be some important learning points to be realised from this awful situation. As Plato’s old saying goes; ‘Necessity is the Mother of Invention’.

As a nation, despite the fact that the UK is globally recognised to be a leading innovator, we are equally notorious for being far

from early adopters when it comes to using technology. Sadly, this is poignantly reflected in the UK robot density figures from the International Federation of Robotics and anyone who has tried to persuade their colleagues to make greater use of Skype or similar PC-based communication applications will know how astonishingly difficult it is to have some of them ‘come onboard!’ However, with the recent COVID-19 induced restrictions on movement and the cancellation or deferral of events and meetings right across the business world, including the BFPA member community, the need to make greater use of this technology is becoming less of a novel option and more of a commercial necessity.

Once the Corona virus subsides; as it surely will; part of its legacy may be far greater adoption and receptivity to remote

working, video conferencing and technology based communication. The added value benefits of this legacy should not be underestimated. Less time spent in long traffic jams, less congestion, reduced travel costs, greater efficiency, better working conditions, less pollution, improved reductions in carbon emissions; the list is endless! In short – this awful crisis may put a much needed spin on the ‘UK technology adoption plate’ and could also have an unexpectedly helpful impact upon the infamous UK Productivity conundrum! Let us hope so.

For now however, we must concentrate upon addressing the current crisis but it is worth remembering that smart use of communications technology will play a major role in those efforts.




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