power your advice

You Might Be Staying in More Than You Expect

When Digital Human came out, its subtitle was The Fourth Revolution of Humanity includes Everyone. The premise was based upon humanity entering a fourth phase where every human on Earth could connect with every other human on Earth by just having a mobile telephone. Not only could they connect, but they could talk, trade, transact and transmit.

This pandemic has really brought this home to me, as we self-isolate and stay home to save lives. If I’m honest, I haven’t left the house now for over two months. We order everything to be delivered and, if we do need to pop out to the shops or chemist, my wife goes as she doesn’t trust me being outside. No big deal.

It seems strange to stay in for months at a time, but it’s not hampering me in any major way as long as the internet works. And thank goodness, touching wood, so far so good.

This means my routine is blogging, tweeting, social networking, zooming all day long. I’m still just as globally connected in lockdown as I was before lockdown. The only major difference is that I now don’t fly anywhere or go anywhere.

What’s interesting about the sudden rise in use of videotech – Zoom went from 10 million users at the start of year to 300 million by the end of March – is that this is a technology I didn’t touch before. I didn’t need to. We all wanted to meet up in person, face-to-face. Now, we don’t want to meet anywhere except in a hangout. And it’s not just Zoom, as Microsoft Teams also saw a doubling in usage from 20 million in January to 44 million by mid-March. Microsoft similarly saw a 775 percent rise in the use of Azure in countries and areas that were self-isolating, whilst Amazon Web Services saw a 33% rise in first quarter business. After all, to use Zoom and Teams requires cloud to deal with the spikes in demand.

And it’s not just for business. Most people are talking to friends and family more. You may think that’s through Skype and Facebook, but my 92-year-old mother doesn’t know how to use those. Rather than trying to explain it to her, we talk over Zoom as it just means she clicks a link and can see me and the family at home, as can I. Interestingly, we used to have one phone call a week; now we Zoom three times a week. It brings us closer and knowing that she can’t go out doing her normal routine, it makes her life a little more cosy.

The net result is a massive change in behaviour in business and personal life due to being locked in the house for months. Will we revert back to the old ways of doing things afterwards? I don’t think so, and wrote a couple of pieces about this at the end of April:

I then spotted The Economist talking about Life after Lockdown. This is in their May 2 edition and makes for grim reading. They call it the 90% economy, based upon a GDP dip globally of 10% or more this year.

Global productivity down 10 percent.

Let that sink in.

There’s lots of other articles talking about life after lockdown, and I guess my main take-away is getting on a packed airplane as you go through security checks with everyone vying to get to the front of queue; attending a packed conference, where thousands of people gather in crowded venues; staying in a hotel, where you have no idea who slept in that bed and used that toilet yesterday; and many similar behaviours will become a thing of the past.

The longer this lockdown lasts, the more our behaviours are becoming adapted to digital, the less we want to be around strangers, the longer we will enjoy being at home, staying in.

And that behavioural change is not going to be unlocked, just because the government says you can fly and stay in a hotel again.

Related: What Does the Coronavirus Crisis Mean for FinTech?