It is probably safe to say that for many of us the new year … 2021 … can’t arrive soon enough. Regardless of one’s personal opinion of the seriousness of COVID and what protocols should or shouldn’t be followed the fact remains that this has had an impact on our lives in a way that we have NEVER experienced previously regardless of anyone’s age. That we have and are enduring upheaval to what we had known as our ‘normal’ way of life has resulted in extreme challenges across the board. 2021 is a year that we hope can bring a solution to the pandemic and the news in this sense is positive.
Still and as much as we may want to shut the door on impacts that range from inconveniences to significant hardships new normal rock that this has imposed, there has been meaningful learning that is bound to influence the ‘new normal’ that we seem headed to establish. It’s a ‘normal’ that will reflect the lessons that we have learned and experienced while in the throws of COVID and in several ways, that turns out to be a good thing.
Here are some of the things that those working in and/or operating a business want to carry forward in a post-COVID era. They reflect some of the positive impact that this pandemic has had. Still I expect that you will find agreement of these key things as summarized below that were identified by David Petkau in writing for North Carolina Blue Cross. And, although identified in March of this year, now, 9 months later, these things have more application than ever.
- We must all work together
COVID-19 is making clear just how vital cooperation, compromise and flexibility are in a crisis, particularly in combating the spread of a serious illness. In the business community, our collective priority must be the well-being of the people we serve. Self-interest – even at a corporate level – is self-defeating.
- Regardless of what else might be going on we must continue to put our customers front and center
- What changes must be implemented that allow employees to continue to be productive regardless of other realities with which they need to contend.
- The focus on the people who are doing the work has taken on a new emphasis and catering to their needs that allow them to be very productive while still dealing with ‘life’ is key.
- We can be productive while working from homeAlthough off to a rough start, these many months later many organizations have learned that their employees can be every bit as productive working from home as being in the office. COVID-19 forced many to put in place new policies that could remain permanent as both employers and employees become more comfortable with working from home.
- The investment that many companies have made to help team members establish a home-based work area with the technology and related tools they would need to be effective appears to have paid off. The benefit to a company and employee is one that many indicate will become a part of their new work culture.
- There is no substitute for a good crisis plan
Having a ‘Plan B’ or alternative plan to enable fast response to an unforeseen potential or even one that can be seen as possible has always seemed just smart business. COVID-19 has served to reinforce the wisdom of creating such a plan and it doesn’t need to be only in the event of the next pandemic.
- With each passing month, more and more organizations have seen the wisdom and necessity of creating such a ‘plan B’ for any type of unplanned event that can impact that business … its’ people, customer or product.
- Communication is key
At the heart of any crisis response is communication, both internally and externally. As a business, your employees need to know what’s happening and why as Petkau identifies. COVID-19 has brought with it the importance of effective and efficient communication adapted to the reality of people working remotely.
- Methods of communicating have been adapted to a work force that is operating remotely to a large extent.
- Organizations have reevaluated both the needed frequency and the extent of involvement required to make the desired progress. Thus, meetings have been streamlined in terms of length, frequency and participation needed to accomplish the goal.
- Businesses must be nimblePredictability is a key ingredient to business success. And predictability went straight out the window with the arrival of COVID-19. Flexibility has come front and center as a key to surviving and thriving in this era.
- The day-to-day or month-to-month uncertainty have become an expected part of this landscape and this has introduced many to living and accepting the need to make decisions quickly to stay on top of the challenges.
- None of this is particularly easy, but being nimble means doing what is necessary to meet customer needs today and positioning a business for recovery and success tomorrow.
I think it’s very safe to say that the COVID crisis will pass. As we have tried to figure out how to best get through all that it has imposed on us there is no question that we will have learned things about ourselves, our families, our business and our jobs. We will have learned to build up a degree of tolerance that enabled us to come out on the other side. We will have learned …
- about resetting priorities, realigning finances, and even rethinking careers
- to reprioritize relationships with family, friends and co-workers.
- happiness doesn’t require us to spend the amount of money we’re used to spending
- we need to have some financial reserve to see us through unplanned tough times
- having back-up plans are both important and valuable
- yes … our teachers are extremely important and valuable
- we are all equal when it comes to having lives overturned and challenged
There is no one to argue that COVID-19 has turned worlds upside down. And yet, when we consider so much valuable learning that has emanated from these most challenging times and provided we use it to formulate the ‘new normal’ of the future in 2021 we’re able to see and realize the good of which we have been left.