Social Distancing – The Benefits and the Economic Impact

The evidence is undeniable. Social Distancing works. But what about the economic impact? One startup CFO takes a look.

As a startup CFO and an Advisor, I am often tasked with translating goals or insights into action or alternatively tasked more broadly with managing complex change.

When something as complex as what we are experiencing with the Coronavirus occurs it is helpful to get information but even better when the information provided distills into an insight that is actionable. This article, Coronavirus: Why You Must Act Now by Tomas Pueyo is excellent and contains a depth in terms of information and perspective tied to the current state of the Coronavirus globally, how it has spread, what has slowed it down, the implications in terms of increased exposure and a proposed POA (plan of action).

Read it if you want to know a lot, however the summary of the article is that it is undeniable that “Social Distancing” has successfully worked in the past (as far back as the 1918 Flu Pandemic in the US), more recently in China, and should be deployed immediately in more recently exposed areas, like the USA.

The good news is that there has been a range of sweeping actions taken this week tied to eliminating mass attended corporate, social and sporting events, limitation of school activities and a growing number of companies acting to limit travel and more recently mandating employees work from home, when possible. Not all businesses conform to a model that 100% social distancing is possible and so other approaches will also be needed. I am writing this post to ECHO this week to amplify the need to act now, sooner than later. The benefit will be to derail exponential growth of Coronavirus in your community and hopefully throughout the USA.

The Economic Impact of Social Distancing

For the business owner worried about the economic impact of such a program (Social Distancing) perhaps there is a key takeaway in that a concerted effort is effective. In fact, in looking at the data related to the China shut down for the Lunar New Year National Holiday plus the National mandatory extended holiday period, this being done collectively in the country for less than a month’s time was sufficient to flatten the growth of cases and more importantly avoided the exponential growth. They then reopened the factories and went back to work. Is it helpful to know that you might have to shepherd resources or take a hit for a month or more? The answer is "Yes" as a balance between preparation for a slowdown and preparation for recovery is what is needed. From a tactical standpoint begin thinking about the opportunities that might exist when people are staying at home (e.g. deliveries) or those opportunities that exist when consumers are ready to “go out” again and being ready for them is equally as important.

It is clear that continued leadership is necessary to keep this a cumulative effort. From a self-leadership standpoint think about what you and your family can do. As for me, I am starting to work from home this week and as I post this I began receiving multiple communications that my kids sports or other activities both in and out of school have either been limited or canceled. As with all things I am going to take it a day or week at a time and I advise the same for you.

Stay Healthy!