President Trump hast met with the “reopen America” committee comprised of over 200 high profile business leaders in America, and while we await results, we are anxious about what we suspect could be missing – a well crafted social contract to guide businesses and consumers to slowly let their guard down.
While they worry about the nuts and bolts of moving forward, our worry remains that the social contract, the unregulated behaviors, the culture of America moving forward could be lost in the fray.
For the committee to be successful, every press conference and every media interview with White House officials must include information on how culturally we move forward. It must include leadership on scripting the social contract for getting back into the world.
And get back into the world we must.
People are anxious, not just because of cabin fever and isolation, but because we’re hearing drips of hopeful information from other nations that are reopening. For example, Hermès in China racked up $2.7 million in sales the first day they reopened. Two. Point. Seven. MILLION. In one day.
We sit at home in America, either desperately trying to run a small business in a dry economy, or worried that our job might get cut before we can get back to our desk. But hearing tidbits like Hermès’ sales fills us with a tiny ounce of hope, a far off ray at the end of a long tunnel we know we must still venture into.
So how do we behave when we can begin free-roaming again? On day one, we’ll want to go eat at a restaurant and leave dishes on the table for once, but what will make us feel comfortable supporting businesses outside of our home again?
There must be a social contract regarding what we all agree is “safe.” Would we feel comfortable if a waitstaff is wearing full personal protective equipment (and would staff be comfortable wearing it at all times)? Does that mean everyone wears face masks and protective goggles at all times? No, that’s not “normal,” and that’s not feasible.
But adhering to the new normal of what proper health standards are may be more feasible. How and when was the last time the building was sterilized professionally? Is that communicated on the front door? Are there signs expressing what has been done inside to keep consumers safe?
Culturally, do we go to a mall and just pass by a store that looks too full, vowing to return later? Do we continue with some social distancing regardless of the location? Do sporting events fill stadiums with spectators wearing masks or bandanas?
How can large employers be more understanding of sick time so less people spread disease because they’re scared of losing their job due to time missed? How can that trickle down to small businesses? We’re not talking about empathy, we’re talking about practicality. It must be addressed in our nation’s next delicate steps.
This social contract must contain cultural rules between consumers and businesses in order to get people in the door to risk their life to buy a taco, shirt, or fancy pen. “Risk their life” sounds dramatic, but that is how most people feel right now by leaving their homes, so not ignoring or minimizing that emotion when the economy gears back up is the only option for the business world.
The President’s task force must address this social contract to inspire people to venture back into the world, otherwise the committee has failed. Crafting a meaningful social contract and promoting this culture without regulating it will remarry consumers to businesses, and it is a core component to kickstarting the economy.