Point of view from Guy Sorrill, Head of Consulting at Sysdoc and Chair of the MCA SME Committee

By Guy Sorrell of Sysdoc

As the daily update on Coronavirus by the Prime Minister has highlighted, Government needs to work extremely closely with big business and leaders of industry. These are the people who run the supply chain, and thereby the flow of money around the UK in order to protect SMEs. Of course, we, as a nation, need to be kept updated during this global crisis but we also need to think ‘big picture’ and be encouraged and incentivised to maintain the supply chain. The priority is obviously the health of our staff and clients, so clients need to work closely with us to maintain levels of service whilst remote, without threatening to impose penalties or terminate contracts. This kind of attitude will not protect either the public’s health or the economy.

With such a massive pandemic, this crisis needs a cross section of brains to work out where the economy and society is heading, and this includes organisations of all sizes, types and industries. Any collaboration needs to be based on where the virus is heading, with any possible vaccine being estimated not to be ready for another 18 months – and how we minimise the impact. We need to look at both the economic and social impacts. We need to come together and work as both a UK (and global) community to address this crisis. The only way we will all come out safely is if we work together.

Short-term decisions are required but longer-term thinking is also necessary. What will be the impact of change going forward and what can we do as a nation to mitigate it? With physical self-isolation and social distancing, both as individuals, families and businesses, we risk developing an isolationist attitude too. We therefore need to ensure global companies continue to think global, as governments appear to be thinking nationally. What Coronavirus has proven is that we are an interdependent global society, and whilst the pandemic has threatened that very concept, we need to ensure we don’t lose the great positives this has given us in the last century.

Although a huge threat, this is also an opportunity for the world to decide what we want to be when we exit this crisis – which could be as late as next year. Questions we all need to ask include how do we maintain these lower levels of pollution we are currently experiencing? How do we change how we work? How could society learn from this? How can we use technology more effectively? How can we re-use, recycle, upcycle, consume less? How could this change how communities operate? Can we ‘slow things down’ a little and add more simplicity in how we live? What is essential in our lives? Maybe it will show that all we truly will need is love, water, good food, a little electricity (iPhones are here to stay!) medicines, and community.