Christmas 2020 – festival of reflection and hope

One year ago, who would have foreseen in a nightmare that 2020 would go down so ingloriously in world history. Allow me to share with you a few personal thoughts and reflections on the festival of reflection and hope.

  • The bad news of the year: The Covid virus and the anti-Covid measures interfered with the lives of every individual, caused worries and individual tragedies. It also caused an economic slump of 3% to around 6% of GDP in western industrialized key countries and a massive increase in public debt.
  • The good news: In a long-term comparison at national level, and in the annual total, there is no clear evidence of excess mortality, despite – or perhaps because of – the media noise and political activism. And – overall, the economy appears to be recovering faster than most experts feared.

Perhaps the upcoming Christmas is the right time to look at the current situation in a historical context and to look ahead.

The «Spanish flu» caused by birds, according to current knowledge it was also an aggressive corona virus of the subtype A/H1N1, ended 100 years ago after two years. Around 500 million people (25 percent of the world’s population!) were infected and over 50 million people died. In 1968, the two-year “Hong Kong flu” broke out with the A/H3N2 virus, with over 1 million deaths, including over 30,000 in Germany alone. In 1977 the two-year “Russian flu” broke out. Around 700,000 people died globally from this descendant of the A/H1N1 virus from northern China. In similar pandemics SARS, MERS, bird or swine flu in the past 20 years, highly pathogenic derivatives of the H1N1 virus were involved again, fortunately with a lower spread.

At the end of 2019, the Covid-19 virus spread from wild animals to humans in China. We can expect ultimately an estimated global toll of around 150 million infected people and up to 2.5 million deaths. However, the world population today is several times larger than during the pandemics of the 20th century. Therefore, from a statistical point of view, Covid-19 is likely to go down in history as an average-sized pandemic. Due to the global density of information and the higher level of prosperity, this current pandemic is perceived as more dangerous.

Thanks to vaccines developed in record time, this pandemic should last a few months less than previous pandemics.

The current “War against Covid-19” should realistically come to an end in a few months’ time. How will our world develop afterwards, taking into account the short half-life of human memory?

Here are my ten hypotheses for 2021 and the coming years:

  1. The great pent-up demand for social contacts will lead to a boom in the catering and leisure industry as soon as the crisis is “over”.
  2. People’s “travel fever”, suppressed by travel restrictions and fear, will lead to excessive demand for national and international vacation travel.
  3. Home office, the innovation killer, will for the most part be replaced by on-site work presence again. However, there will be more likely more individual and small-group offices. Informal face-to-face conversations are key to innovation.
  4. Workplaces in open-plan offices in highly industrialized countries are largely going to be replaced by “intelligent” computers, online self-service by customers, and by offshore service centers with cheaper labor.
  5. Virtual meetings will complement, but not replace, traditional written reporting.
  6. Increased hygiene regulations and corresponding individual behavior will lead to increased susceptibility to bacterial and virological infections and increased allergies.
  7. In the affluent countries’ hospitals, single patient rooms will become the standard in order to reduce the risk of infection. At the same time, the need for care for aging people “in their safe home” will increase massively.
  8. Supply chains will be adjusted, with higher added value in the individual sales markets and with fewer dependencies across economic blocs.
  9. Geopolitical tensions will intensify following the Covid-19 crisis, combined with the formation of “hard” economic blocs.
  10. The next crisis is guaranteed to come. And – it will be completely different from the current one. For example, the total collapse of the global communication systems for several months? We human beings will master that too.

CEO Martin Schneider

On behalf of my global BRAINFORCE team, I wish you all a blessed, light-filled Christmas and New Year celebrations, despite the extraordinary frame conditions, and a hopeful start into a happier and successful 2021.

I would like to thank you for the trust you have placed in us. I enjoyed the exciting discussions with many of our business partners.

Sincerely yours,
Martin Schneider