Martha Myron

Health and job recovery after the pandemic

  • Days to come: what changes will remain in our professional and personal lives as we emerge in to the post Covid-19 pandemic world? (Photograph by Michael Probst /AP)

The whole Covid-19 crisis has seemed unreal, from beginning to where we are now, for those relatively unaffected by health or job worries.

We are all probably functioning on “hope for the best” basis at this point in time.

The gradual, monitored small progress to post-Covid recovery is starting. Businesses are beginning to re-open; normal personal outdoor activity is resuming; traffic is thickening in the streets; talks of reopening, relaxing other restrictions are moving along.

The worry is still there, though. No one really knows how commerce and real life will resume. Talking heads keep chatting about return to normal, but nothing is quite normal right now.

There’s lots of conjecture and lots of wait and see.

What is real, or does it matter? Perception, in capital markets and political assurances, appear real, even if they actually may not be for the time being.

Business and employers

Employers have to be feeling reopening pressure. They’ve managed to weather this challenge. Some have been able to carry employees at reduced salaries, or at least, health insurance coverage short-term.

Covid shutdown impacted revenue cash flows to slow or possibly a complete stop. Emergency business savings, and probably personal savings as well, may have been depleted in order to keep businesses afloat, while increased debt-borrowing repayments loom steadily ahead.

But the outflow of cash never stops in meeting demand of business fixed expenses: utilities, internet, rent, credit lines, mortgages, inventory costs, partial payroll benefits, taxes, accounting, legal services. At a determined predictable point, new revenue flows must bring the business bottom-line to breakeven, then finally a return to profitability.

Moneywise can just about guarantee that business owners have their contingency plans with “what if” alternatives in place, such as a return to profitability, managed marginally for certain time frame awaiting predictable longer-term growth, or a resolution end. This reversion to success does not happen overnight; if it does not succeed, decisions must be made.

Regretfully, others have already ceased operations — never an easy decision. In fact, extremely hard, because the taken-personally perception is one of failure.

Employment outlook

Meanwhile, what have you been doing at home besides waiting for regular times to become the normal again?

Are you ready to return to your job? Are you feeling just a tiny bit complacent that it will be the same structure that you left just a few months ago?

Internet searches reveal numerous company and consultant analyses of the kinds of jobs that will be priority choices, and their availability in post-Covid recovery.

Traditional employment patterns may change with their potential to be transformative. Some industries will increase hires, while others will downsize due to obsolescence, changing trade patterns, and consumer tastes.

Traffic flow to certain businesses probably will not change. People will still need to visit salons, spas, have medical invasive procedures, dental care, vacations, prepare and grow food, renovations and building projects, trucking and hauling, outside entertainment, including bars, live shows, athletic exhibitions, travelling and shopping (even as an adjunct to internet scrolling).

Access to thousands of items and services can now be handled on a strictly remote basis — the impact of more or less employees needed is yet to be determined. Some examples:

• Teledoc and telepharmacy, but not your dentist — I cannot imagine remote dentistry for that painful filling

• Retail/wholesale delivery of all types

• Remote workers

• Minimal physical-situated office employees

• Internet schooling

• Electronic repair support

• Legal, accounting, teaching, meetings, politics, including US Congress and Supreme Court, and Bermuda Parliament, have been recently ramped up or been offered for years

• Will the leisure and physical enjoyment traveller return to familiar touring of new land and seascapes, and if so, will the excursions be more low-key Airbnb than resort choices where service-oriented attendants have traditionally had jobs?

• Is having employees work-from-home more profitable, and less expensive relative to fixed costs of a physical, high-end office?

• Will robots do more manufacture inventory, make and distribute meals-to-go, package and ship goods, provide robo-investment and other advice?

• Will industries need more software, hardware, coders, and the like to interpret and build remote artificial intelligence units?

• Will several part-time positions, just-in-time employees, permanent reductions in salary bases and the like replace full-time permanent job security?

Consumerism trends have always been flexibly changeable, too.

Will we return to the traditional norm of dressing for success, gathering trinkets and feel-good stuff, seeking loads of outside entertainment, dining experiences, travelling distances for culture, random spending because we can, while using debt, to have what we want.

US industry reports have signified a large upswing in clothing purchases. Maybe, we all just got tired of the same old pyjamas lookalike outfits. Longer-term trends are yet to be analysed.

Our shut-in sojourn has highlighted impactful personal, and possibly new or permanent, lifestyle changes due to:

• our sense of isolation that most of us hated,

• our independence,

• our survival instincts,

• our realisation that life can be very simply lived,

• our understanding that health is extremely precious and should be carefully nurtured.

On an island-level, what does this disruptive time in history mean for our Bermuda environment, with its major commerce focus on international business, tourism and the money flows from foreign investment into local retail, entertainment, and ancillary services organisations?

Hope is very big on the sliding scale. We can only wait and see.

Readers, some best wishes for those heading back to, or looking for work.

Prepare yourself now, start networking, keep updated, be ready to find (and get) the job you want.

Learn. Upgrade your skills continually — you know the resources are there for free, thousands of courses are internet based. Use them.

You must be at your best, competition may be far tougher than normal.

You may have to prove yourself and your worth everyday.

Show disciplined work habits. We Bermudians must shake off the old “late to work” reputation. Prove them all wrong.

Finally, be flexible and ready for anything for your return to the new normal working life.

Good luck.

Reference sources:

8 Job Skills To Succeed In A Post-Coronavirus World by Bernard Marr April 2020, Forbes. https://tinyurl.com/yaog5gvq

6 Outside-Of-The Box Ideas To Find A Job Or Stay Relevant Post Covid-19 by Jack Kelly, CEO Careers, Forbes. https://tinyurl.com/y8tqfve5

Martha Harris Myron CPA JSM: Masters of Law — international tax and financial services, dual Bermudian/US citizen. All proceeds from these columns are donated by The Royal Gazette to The Bermuda Salvation Army. E-mail: martha.myron@gmail.com