Transition to post-Coronavirus Life, Issue 42

The time has come to start building enthusiasm for the transition to post-Coronavirus life. I, for one, cannot wait to Zoom out of conference calls and zoom in to in-person meetings. We need to recapture all those little pleasures that we took for granted. My personal list of things that I miss from my routine include:

  • A leisurely walk on Rue Ste-Catherine  on a sunny day,  and bumping into old friends
  • Debating (not to say arguing) with my clients in person. I find this harder to do on the phone or by e-mail. 
  • Being in an office with energetic people and trying to find ways to be useful
  • Lunch at Graziella , pizza at FCO, coffee at La Différance 
  • Hamburgers and beer with friends, on a terrasse
  • Checking out the food trucks on Dorchester Square
  • The walk to the commuter train on a beautiful morning
Sharing a Pizza

Everyone has a role to play

Well, there is a glimmer of hope that this transition will be in full swing by Canada Day. I am sure almost everyone has a personal list of things they miss most in not going to the office. Employers want to get people working in teams and end their time on Teams. For survival, all of the restaurants and small retailers that cater to city business districts need people back at work. Cities need street life. Everyone has a role to play.

  • A residential apartment aggregator once told me that the two most useful items in portfolio improvement are soap and water. Cities, businesses, and individuals have to raise cleanliness standards. I am sick and tired of discarded face masks, litter, and overflowing trash containers. 
  • Don’t start me on filthy streets and parks, stinking alleyways, and poorly maintained storefronts. Cities have to set the  clean-street example. However, landlords must be held accountable for storefronts and their use of alleyways and the public domain.  
  • Cities need to get out of the way of retailers and restaurants that want to improve their neighbourhoods. Allow the simple such as planters, benches, or a sidewalk table and chair. Encourage the elaborate such as enhanced outdoor dining areas.
  • Promote people over cars. I know, some retailers and restaurants will scream that discouraging cars depresses business. Multiple studies have shown the opposite. Street front retail and restaurants benefit from pedestrianization. Everything slows down. The reduction in automobile-generated heat and exhaust fumes enhances the whole downtown experience. 
  • Focus on constant improvement of public transit. 
  • Encourage active transportation. We need more bike lanes and less six-lane boulevards cutting through our cities.

Office Attraction

Employers want employees back in the office. Corporate cultures are fading. Group creativity and ideas that come from casual conversation are being lost. Many people are increasingly fed up with the never-ending cycles of seven-day sameness, week after week. Still, hand washing stations and sanitizers, masks, and directional signage will not be good enough to encourage the return to the office. Employees need to be drawn back.

I have always thought that pool tables, Ikea-style ball rooms,  and  playground equipment did not have a place in the office. I still think those types of amenities are frivolous and somehow, demeaning. Much better to spend the money on a great kitchen and a hidden drinks cabinet. Find a group working late at night, share a great bottle of wine with them. 

Some other ideas:

  • Never schedule meetings to start before 10am or finish after 4pm. I have never attended a meeting at 8am that couldn’t have waited until 10am. And after 4pm, most people focus on the clock rather than on the meeting agenda. 
  • Expand flex-time initiatives. Many will want to avoid crowded metros and elevator traffic jams.
  • Spiff up the premises. I like to tease one of my clients about two office seating sections,  one neon green and the other, vibrant orange. Truth told, I love them. Add plants and lots of colour. I hate grey or beige atmospheres. 
  • Increase the size of individual employee work spaces
  • Experiment with shorter work weeks. Maybe one group works Monday to Thursday and another group, Tuesday to Friday. 
  • Continue to give everyone the opportunity to work at home at least part of the time. 
  • Introduce a housekeeper / concierge to pamper the staff and keep everything shining. Afternoon tea-time anyone?
  • Much current business literature promotes the benefit of dogs in the workplace. I am not sure how that would work? Who gets to take their dog to the office? 

We need to stop blubbering over lockdowns, curfews, and government incompetence. That wasted energy needs to be invested in preparing for a dynamic transition to post-Coronavirus life. After all, I want face time, not to be on FaceTime. 

Face time, not FaceTime

I encourage you to:

  • Buy better, buy less, reduce, repair, reuse and recycle 
  • Shop local, support local businesses, buy from local farms, and support local artisans and manufacturers
  • Support your favourite restaurants
  • Wear face masks where required, wash your hands, practice social distancing, hydrate, and exercise
  • Cancel Facebook and Instagram!

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