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#InsightsIn5: The Corona Wars

4xi Regional Consultant, LATAM

The Coronavirus pandemic is having a huge global impact on the daily lives of the people of all nations. The economic impact has led to a new categorizations of essential workers and a large scale move towards staff working remotely and a colossal number of people now unemployed.

In the United States alone unemployment has risen to more than 30 million people over the past 6 months. The full force of the hammer on the global economy is something that has not been experienced since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Never in my lifetime!

As a child growing up in the North of Scotland beside the North Atlantic coastline. A beautiful but brutal part of Scotland where there are few jobs and even less entertainment for young people. I never thought for a second that space rockets would leave earth 2 miles from my family home. However the world has changed and so has my mind set. In that same place I was raised, within spitting distance of my childhood home and the bedroom I nicknamed “The Freezer” we now have the first UK Space Hub under development by UK Space Agency.

"What the world will look like in 2021, never mind for my children. I can only imagine?"

As many countries make their way towards relaxing COVID-19 lockdowns, many of us are looking forward to getting back to some resemblance of life as it used to be before the global pandemic.

However with a second wave of the virus on the horizon, this could be a very long road for us all. Working from home is not always practical and very few of us have homes ideally equipped for working remotely. Working from a kitchen table does not always make for a productive environment especially with the family pets and children seeking attention. Yet in the absence of a vaccine, many aspects of the modern work environment will need to change, putting employee safety first and foremost if they are going to return safely to their desks.

Experts suggest this could involve a number of short term fixes aimed at boosting employee confidence. Reducing the number of staff in the workplace at any one time, and longer term design upgrades, building modifications that put hygiene and safety at the very heart of office building planning.

With the list of global pandemics over the centuries we can only expect the trend to continue. We must be prepared. Seek out and utilize all the solutions and innovations currently at our disposal to protect our populations including those in the workplace.

"Working from my kitchen table with my pet parrot, Martin, hungry for conversation, and my cross terrier, Milou just hungry for treats, does not make for the most productive working environment"

The way forward to a safe work environment. It can be done!

COVID-19 has been an accelerator of issues that existed before. The transportation infrastructure of our major centers of population were already overstretched, over-crowded and under-invested. This a major pinch point in exposure to the virus for our work force traveling to and from the work place, never mind the focus of continuous employee dissatisfaction levels and a major factor of why employees accept a job, or not, stay in a job, or leave.

This will have to be addressed and technological solutions found. Some 74% of businesses in the US want some of their employees to remain working at home. Business leaders are actively reducing their physical footprint by scaling down their number of office locations and reducing the size of their teams as a reactionary measure to get them through the coronavirus pandemic.

This strategy will change with time as businesses gain more confidence in how to deal with the virus. If a working vaccine is found, this will restore much confidence, but the risk factor is already here, and businesses will be more focused on a preventative strategy to deal with future pandemics.

"As businesses and governments implement back to work strategies, we can expect the biggest remote work experiment in history."

There is a way forward to a safe work environment. It can be done if we all work together to make it happen. Science can get us part of the way but technology can also be an important contributor too. Technology leaps forward in times of crisis, the technological developments as a result of 2 World Wars and a Cold War are testament to this.

"Maybe now is the time for mankind to join forces to combat our mutual enemy as opposed to each other."

Our World in the Near Future

Apart from preliminary measures to minimize congestion and maintain social distancing such as for example staggering shift times and lunch breaks so that everybody can get to work and have lunch without being exposed to a high traffic environment, we can expect to see more technological solutions impacting our offices and work places.

Office cleaning by conventional means will become a thing of the past with companies such as SoftBank Robotics investing millions of dollars to bring us their autonomous robotic vacuum cleaning technology, Whiz. This could allow our cleaning staff to focus on maintaining a clean disinfected building.

Facial recognition technology will also play a part in signing us into the premises, eliminating the morning biometric check in to work procedure currently used by many companies. Nobody wants to touch the same fingerprint scanner as the other potentially thousands of people that work in your building.

The office restaurant services will also change with faster touch-less checkout systems such as the Mashgin computer vision driven checkout solution that can identify any product through facial recognition technology. This swipe and go system can actually see what’s on a plate of food. It is 30% more efficient than the standard bar code reader resulting in no queuing at the checkout and a much safer experience for the consumer.

"Softbank Robotics receptionist robot, Pepper, “Morning Mr. Mackay, how may I help you today?” Eliminating the “Never in my lifetime” mindset many of us used to have, including me. And a few still do!"

One thing is certain, that the only constant is change, and I would suggest that we have not been through such an accelerated period of rapid change for at least in the last 80 years.

Let 4xi help you discover the unknown and explore new horizons.


Gary Mackay, 4xi Regional Consultant for LATAM has lived in Santiago for the past decade and can help your organization navigate your journey not just in Chile but across South America.

Gary has a wealth of experience globally in business and industry, mining, and remote sites, and helping organizations navigate the labyrinth of opportunity in LATAM, including:

  • Gathering insights and exploring opportunities

  • Regional and local support with existing operations

  • Making connections on the local level

  • Helping organizations enter new markets

  • Local leadership and presence

“4xi Global Consulting through its strength and power of collective experience can help you navigate the unknown and explore new horizons.”

To learn more about how we can help you, visit our website at, email us at or you can contact Gary directly at


4xi Global Workplace Consulting & Solutions provides a range of services to support Corporations, Service Providers, Innovators, and Accelerators to navigate the world of work. Inspiring the future of work, together.

4xi is proud to be Chair of WORKTECH Academy for North America and a member of its Leadership Advisory Board. 4xi is a Global Ambassador for WORKTECH Academy.

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