The Corona crisis will fundamentally change people’s behavior. Above all, there is a difference between functional and social. This is what the world famous Swedish lecturer, author, economist and futurist Kjell A Nordström believes.
Kjell A Nordström is the doctor of economy who wrote Funky Business’, ’Karaoke Capitalism’ and researched the global market and gave us the term “glocal”, as a mixture of global and local.
Now globalization has been fought back by the corona virus – perhaps temporarily. Then there is reason to ask Kjell A Nordström how he views the business and work of the future. What happens when the crisis is over? Will more people continue to work at home? How about shopping and eating out?
”The current globalization started as late as 1982 when China opened its borders. In the mid-1990s, low-cost flights came, and in 1995 we began to connect via the Internet. The world became a huge party where everyone contributed what they were good at” says Nordström.
”Everyone traded with everyone. Then it became a stop. The reason why companies this spring closed factories was not that they could not sell prodicts – but that components did not come in to build these prodicts”.
”We have had great fun since the 80s. But now the music has been silent and we are staring at each other. What happens now? The answer is that there will be a return to national thinking. ”We will be afraid for a while”.
”All countries will reflect on the fairness of having tiny production of their own and import almost everything you need. In Sweden there are heavy industries, but too little food production, no manufacture of shoes and clothes, nor of masks for mouth protection”.
”Everyone will come to the conclusion that you have to have your own basic production of what is necessary, not least to have the basic knowledge about how it works. This is what cunning multinational companies have always known, even though they were eventually included in globalization and became dependent on Far-away-in-town production. However after some time the fear will diminish and everything including globalziation will start over again”.
So what happens short term at the corporate and individual levels?
”Traveling is obviously decreasing. No Swedes will jump on flights to Bali this year. But other phenomena will take off”, Kjell A Nordström predicts. Things he and other reviewers have been waiting for for 20 years or more, it is happening now. Like video meetings, telework and e-commerce to a large extent.
”We who thought that video meetings would be “the shit” and affect the airlines industry have been waiting and waiting. But now the power people are sitting on the zoom meetings they would have blatantly said no to last fall. The technology for video conferencing will evolve at a rapid pace. Now it is not so good quality amways, but just wait and see”.
”It will turn out that most events that are now canceled are not needed at all. The restaurant industry will be transformed from large dining rooms with hidden kitchens to large kitchens surrounded by a few seats – since most of the food that the kitchen produces is delivered to town”.
The work is undergoing perhaps the biggest change. The office complexes will decrease, as teleworking – finally – becomes a reality.
”Many who work at home during the coronation find that it is much faster to get the job done there than at the office. The effective working time is not eight hours but maybe two or four. Sociologists get it right: What we call “work” is really “play job”.
Distance work has already forced employers to specify the content of the work, and what the workers do and do not do is put in the day, says Kjell A Nordström. It can change employers’ views on how many people they need to hire”.
How about chatting at the coffee machine? Is it not needed? ”Yes, of cause” says Kjell A Nordström, but ”now people are learning to distinguish between what is functional and what is social”.
”Now you will analyze: What is needed to make business work? And what’s just fun? Employers will arrange nice occasions to meet. But to drink wine together is enough to see one day – not everyday at work”.
What is most upsetting is that it goes so fast, Kjell A Nordström points out. Many are forced to change their behavior in terms of jobs, shopping, children, family, offices within a few weeks.
”Now our habits are violently broken. But we should have fun anyway, the company should go well anyway. We humans have a funny ability to be inventive. I am convinced that the new has come to a halt. The corona crisis will last for a long time for the new routines to turn into habits. Then it will be just as hard to get out of them”.