How will the corona virus affect the future of work?

The biggest news story in the world now, and in the foreseeable future, is the corona virus. Its not as big a threat as the FLU, but it is having a more severe effect in terms of public anxiety and business disruption. What will all of this mean for the future of work? I speculate. | Special thanks to

Hi, I’m Jim Stroud and this is my podcast, brought to you (in part) by Proactive Talent, a recruiting and employer brand consulting firm that will revolutionize the way you attract and hire top talent.

The biggest news story in the world now, and in the foreseeable future, is the coronavirus. Its not as big a threat as the FLU, but it is having a more severe effect in terms of public anxiety and business disruption. What will all of this mean for the future of work? I speculate on that, after this word from Will Staney, Founder and CEO of Proactive Talent.

For all the attention that the Coronavirus is getting in the media, the FLU poses a much bigger threat, at least in terms of the health of the general public. Listen to this recent quote from USA TODAY.

There’s a deadly virus spreading from state to state. It preys on the most vulnerable, striking the sick and the old without mercy. In just the past few months, it has claimed the lives of at least 39 children. The virus is influenza, and it poses a far greater threat to Americans than the corona virus from China that has made headlines around the world.

“When we think about the relative danger of this new coronavirus and influenza, there’s just no comparison,” said Dr. William Schaffner, a professor of preventive medicine and health policy at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. “Corona virus will be a blip on the horizon in comparison. The risk is trivial.”

To be sure, the coronavirus outbreak, which originated last month in the Chinese city of Wuhan, should be taken seriously. The virus can cause pneumonia and is blamed for more than 800 illnesses and 26 deaths. British researchers estimate the virus has infected 4,000 people. A second person in the U.S. who visited China has been diagnosed with the Wuhan virus, officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday. Public health workers are monitoring 63 additional patients from 22 states.

Influenza rarely gets this sort of attention, even though it kills more Americans each year than any other virus, said Dr. Peter Hotez, a professor of pediatrics, molecular virology and microbiology at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. Influenza has already sickened at least 13 million Americans this winter, hospitalizing 120,000 and killing 6,600, according to the CDC. And flu season hasn’t even peaked. In a bad year, the flu kills up to 61,000 Americans. Worldwide, the flu causes up to 5 million cases of severe illness worldwide and kills up to 650,000 people every year, according to the World Health Organization.

And yet, Americans aren’t particularly concerned.

To be clear, no death is insignificant. But consider this, at the point of this recording, there have been 3,569 deaths in the world caused by the Corona Virus. And as I have already said, the FLU kills 650,000 people every year. Clearly, the FLU is the bigger threat to our health but thanks to public anxiety as fed by the news media, the Corona Virus is a bigger threat to our way of life.

According to Investopedia, Official estimates suggest Chinese exports amounted to $2.097 trillion in 2017. Since 2013, China has also become the largest trading nation in the world. (The United States previously held this position.)

China has many dominant industries that create products and materials for export. The most prominent amongst the finished products exported from China are electrical goods, data processing technologies, clothing, and other textiles, and optical and medical equipment. And here is a fun fact, 95 percent of all the antibiotics in America are manufactured in China. I repeat, 95 percent of all the antibiotics in America are manufactured in China. Let that sink in. Look, I’m all for global trade, in fact, I encourage it, but relying on one partner for 95% of all antibiotics. That’s a bit much.

I predict that once the Corona Virus hysteria has subsided and vaccines are in place, companies will begin to rethink their supply chains. I predict that President Trump will begin offering tax incentives and other goodies to bring manufacturing back to America on an unprecedented scale so we can reduce our dependency on China and any other country for that matter. Once that happens, there will trigger another boom in jobs that might shatter the already historically low unemployment records. I think automation will increase out of necessity and the companies that supply that technology will see their profits go through the roof.  And even with the help of robots and automation, they can only do so much and will eventually break down. So, I imagine there will be a boom in trade education – maybe things like, “robot repair” will be the hot new profession. As the need for such skills increase, look for “robot repair” to be taught in high schools the same way automotive tech was taught in an earlier generation.

But, I digress. The corona virus may trigger a new wave of manufacturing jobs and that’s at least something good that could come from this. However, its not the only prediction I have. I have at least, umm… 1 more. I’ll share it after this.

Before we get to the point of a manufacturing boom, or rather, an even bigger manufacturing boom as manufacturing jobs have grown at their fastest rate in 23 years (more or less), there is the in-between time, that point between now and when the even bigger-boom of manufacturing jobs happens. And during that time, I predict a subtle change in the job market. And when I say, subtle, I am being sarcastic.

People wanted telecommuting jobs before the corona virus hysteria. How much more do you think they want it now? If the corona virus hysteria continues for an extended period of time, I predict that some companies will take advantage by offering jobs that pay less but make higher demands on their workers. The argument that they will likely use is that the money they would have paid you is offset by the money you save working exclusively from home. And it won’t be a hard sale as some workers will graciously take a significant paycut to work exclusively from home. Listen to this clip from ABC news which reported on remote working in San Diego. {cite the cost savings from this clip}

So, let’s recap.

  • The corona virus is not as dangerous as the FLU in terms of health, but the public anxiety over it, makes it a threat to our way of life.
  • I predict that once the corona virus hysteria subsides, America will bring more manufacturing jobs home in order to reduce our dependency on China.
  • I predict trade schools will boom as well as high school programs teaching things like “robot repair.”
  • I predict that some companies will pay less and demand more from 100% remote workers and few will complain about it, especially during this period of corona virus hysteria.

And one last prediction, I predict that you will share this podcast with your network, on social media and ask them to subscribe to it. Time will tell, how accurate my predictions are.


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