First things first, I am not part of SAGE nor do I sit on the panel of COBRA, and therefore my access to the same facts is, to all intents and purposes, non existent. As part of what I do for Exhibition Mastery; mindset, messaging, directing the conversation, persuasion and non verbals is an active interest of my own. This article is a singular opinion based on my experience and observation.
The change in language is very interesting for me because it sends a clear message about how we should be thinking about work. As I wrote this, the BBC news app kindly informed me that the UK economy experienced its fastest shrink in over a decade. Not really a surprise – but something we must be aware of as we begin recovery.
The original message was #stayathome. Work from home if you can, many industries had closed down, but if you weren’t closed, you couldn’t work from home and you could work safely – then you could (in my mind, I feel you should). All but essential travel was banned and we needed a good reason to be out of the home.
The wording and the subsequent herd mentality* vilified anyone being out that wasn’t an NHS worker or keyworker. Those that could adapt their work, did and still maintained some form of economic activity – sometimes earning the herd mentality wrath. The Government gave its blessing to being at home with various financial support packages such as furlough, CBILS loans etc. to enable companies to keep their people at home. In effect, the message was #stayathome and be paid to do so.
No we have passed the peak of the virus – the NHS has not been overwhelmed as we have seen in other countries (thank God) and we are now at a stage where we can begin recovery. The #stayathome message has been ingrained in us now. After eight weeks of lockdown, we have gone through all the stages of change and now, this is our new normal. Staying at home, not seeing people, having alcoholic fuelled Zoom calls with friends, crossing the road to avoid people on narrow pavements – it is all perfectly acceptable and we do it without question.
Now we need to begin the process of recovery. The toughest part of this recovery will be changing the habits of the populous to ensure that they are productive members of society again.
As of Sunday 10th May 2020, the Government changed their slogan from #stayathome to #stayalert.
The announcement was met with much derision and scorn and many a meme and parody has been released on social media platforms. As we just celebrated VE Day in the UK, I hope those that are parodying understand and appreciate the privilege they have at being able to make such content without fear of censorship or persecution.
The Government has a problem. They have made it more accessible to just stay at home and watch (insert your chosen streaming site here) and we, as a populous have accepted it. We need to begin the steps to recovery and the first hurdle is not anything logistical. It’s not the transport or infrastructure – it’s our own mindsets. We are programmed to stay at home.
We now need to reprogram our subconscious to being open to going back to work and being economically productive. At some point it will happen nationwide. We will all be going back to a new post Covid19 normal.
The headline changes from static/ passive #stayathome to active, watchful, dynamic #stayalert. We will now be shown #stayalert #contolthevirus #savelives repeatedly over the coming days and weeks. The message will be actively encouraging us to ‘stay alert’ To be active in controlling the virus so that we save lives.
It’s very clever. Watch over the next week as your own attitude shifts – and shifts to those that aren’t staying alert – and more so the attitudes of those with herd mentality. See how their mood changes and goes form vilifying the new message to then vilifying those that don’t adhere to it. The Government have seen the example of how the British public reacted to the lockdown in the first place.
They took us through a rapid staged process where we willingly gave up our freedoms for the greater good – until we accepted it. Now it’s time to turn it around, so baby steps are needed.
The first step is perhaps the most important – to reprogram the British public that, to stay alert, you are helping control the virus – ultimately saving lives. They are powerful words and they will do the job.
Staying at home and being paid to watch Netflix is not staying alert. This is no longer an enforced holiday, the Government has been clear.
The new normal is coming and it holds YOU personally responsible for when you are out.
I’m good with that! Are you?
*Herd mentality – my personal definition.
Where you willingly put aside your own thoughts and opinions, sacrifice your own objectivity and impartiality and choose to go along with the ‘herd’ believing the ‘experts’ on your social media channels and/or the news and their supposed ‘journalism’ and worse still add to the noise. Worryingly, you do it without really thinking about it.