Going to the Loo in the New Normal
Going to the Loo in the New Normal
The new normal is going to raise some very interesting questions to everyday processes. This is not the most radical of suggestions as we have all had to consider how we approach what used to the routine, even mundane tasks of everyday life in a new way.
What I hadn’t considered is that most basic of activities going to the toilet. An article I noticed in the Guardian a little while ago set me thinking. Its main theme was that public conveniences are not designed to prevent the spread of a virus.
Of course, they weren’t – no-one except Bill Gates expected a pandemic in the first place. Add to that I suspect that no-one had considered the virus causing said pandemic would survive on surfaces and the first line of defence was to wash your hands, whilst singing Happy Birthday twice. If we extend this logic to the office environment, we all know then the implication is that there is going to be a profound change in the world of work.
Stating the obvious, offices have communal facilities. Toilets, coffee stations, water coolers, kitchenettes, meeting rooms, print stations, lifts, and break out spaces. All of this is going to have be reconsidered or redesigned as we get back to work. Employees are going to expect to be protected from the virus as they return to the office. So, what does the mean for the Office Supplies channel.
I have always believed that where there’s change there is opportunity. So, what opportunities could arise. Protection for a start – screens to separate people, hand sanitisers, and disinfectant wipes will be ordered as regularly as tea & coffee.
Print having spent the last 20 years trying to centralise print we will spend the foreseeable future trying to either adapt existing infrastructures to release jobs when the individual perceives a safe space to collect their work or going back to decentralised desktop printers. In the first scenario print release applications will be the norm, but more likely using BYOD as it is one less thing to worry about disinfecting, In the second scenario it may lead to resurgence in small MFP’s sitting on desktops in a decentralised printer environment. It does not remove the need for MPS or print governance just adds to the complexity of managing the environment as there would be more devices producing less pages. Remote maintenance and cartridge-based delivery will be a real perceived benefit as the engineer visit will be another potential risk. On top of that Print Volumes have been going down for years and the trend seems likely to continue, this may have been accelerated but I think it is too early to tell.
The reluctance to admit a visitor, like an engineer, into your safe environment will also be internal. The example of the Danish School children is a worth noting. 90% of Children have returned to school since the lockdown was eased in Denmark. However the classes have been divided into smaller groups to ensure compliance with the 2 metre distancing, and the group stays together all day, each child bring a packed lunch and interaction outside the group is kept to an absolute minimum and at a safe distance. Apply that to the workplace, Departments will become self–sufficient and cross divisional meetings with physical attendance reduced or just never arranged and as for external visitors, the idea of a visit of a sales representative suddenly seems to be a thing from a different era – a bit like typewriters. Homeworking will increase and we in the Office Equipment channel will have to adapt our sales processes, after sales support, supplies management and delivery to fit into this new normal. On the positive side everyone will be keen to engage with an organisation that can help with tools like our Covid 19 Module in MySalesDrive.
Coming back the toilet dilemma – I guess it will soon be the norm to have an indicator of whether the toilet in the office is occupied. This could be via an app or the airplane style red/green light system. We may even see the return of the executive washroom. Alternatively, it is not beyond the realms of possibility that we shrug our shoulders and return to something closer to the Old Normal than we ever would have thought possible!