News for Tool Hire, Equipment Hire & Plant Hire and Rental Professionals

Has your world changed?

2 June 2023

Has your world changed?

It’s three years ago to the day since I started this blog. How time flies. 

As one of the launch blog posts explained back on 2 June 2020, the website was established to monitor how hirers and suppliers were responding to the extraordinary events surrounding the Covid-19 pandemic, from creating the emergency Nightingale Hospitals and Covid testing centres (shown below), to the furlough scheme and lockdowns.  

Over these three years – and more than 1,500 blog posts so far – the site has continued to report on an ongoing series of unprecedented events and their impact in the wake of the pandemic, such as supply chain disruptions, recruitment difficulties, spiralling energy costs, the conflict in Ukraine, inflation, interest rates… the list goes on, and the industry has had to adapt accordingly. 

(Incidentally, do use the Search Function on the site to explore such topics and look back on developments like the coronavirus vaccine and working from home, to the burgeoning interest in green equipment as people appreciated the cleaner air as travel effectively stopped during the lockdowns. I hope the blog will form a historic record of these remarkable events.)

However, something that I think must be highlighted is an announcement that the World Health Organization (WHO) made a month ago. On 5 May, it declared that Covid-19 was no longer a global health emergency, but that it nevertheless remains an ongoing health issue. 

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the WHO Director-General, suggested that at least 7 million people have died from the virus throughout the world according to official data, and that the true figure could be nearer to 20 million. 

He said that the announcement did not mean the danger was over and that the emergency status could be reinstated if the situation changed. "The worst thing any country can do now is to use this news as a reason to let down its guard, to dismantle the systems it has built, or to send the message to its people that Covid-19 is nothing to worry about," he said. 

From the earliest days of the pandemic, which was declared a global emergency in January 2020, people talked of a ‘new normal’ evolving in the aftermath as the world adapted to ‘living with the virus’.  

Certainly, recovery was accelerated by the creation of vaccines, as the blog reported on 10 November 2020. Astonishingly, this took months rather than the years initially envisaged. 

It was also suggested that we would have to remain ready for the next pandemic, whose appearance was a case of when, not if. Indeed, a blog post in August 2020 discussed how buildings and offices might need to be designed differently to minimise touch points by which disease could be spread, and the rise of click-and-collect services rather than personal interactions.  

But has your world changed? 

Life seems pretty much back to the 'old normal' in hotels, supermarkets, shopping centres, banks (well, the branches that haven't been closed!) and public places. 

True, there have been changes in work practices. The blog has reported on the greater use of software like Zoom for virtual meetings and the rise of working from home. There’s also been more emphasis placed on employee mental health.  

It remains to be seen what the long-term socio-economic impact is of trends like these in terms of team building, commuting, demand for commercial property and many other factors. 

Nevertheless, the earlier blog post about future building considerations also suggested that we must not become blasé and that some changes would have to happen for future security. It quoted a Toronto doctor who had witnessed the SARS virus outbreak in 2003 that affected parts of the world, including the UK. 

He had said back then: “SARS must change us, the way we treat our planet, and how we deliver health care, forever. Will we be ready when it returns?” adding that, “Without substantive changes to the way we manage the delivery of health care, both locally and on a worldwide scale, we risk the otherwise preventable annihilation of millions of people, either by this virus, or the next.”   

In the event, SARS did not become a major global emergency but there were fatalities; yet little changed subsequently. 

Will the world be ready if (or perhaps when) another virus emerges, whether from natural pathogenic evolution or following a leak from a laboratory? Let’s hope so. Some people think that something like the current avian flu outbreak might pose a threat if it were to mutate to enable transmission between humans. 

One thing, however, is clear. The stories on the blog have shown that the hire industry can respond to challenges with resilience, creativity and dedication to meet unprecedented events in a selfless and admirable manner. While it is all too easy to overlook certain aspects of historic events, let’s not forget that.

Photos: above, Edwin Hooper; below, Louis Rayner

Has your world changed?


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