What are we learning? Will it stay with us? Have we changed for the better?
In December 2019 in a now infamous place called Wuhan, the relatively unknown capital of the Hubei province, the world was about to receive a harsh catalyst for change that we will hopefully not see the likes of again.
The devastation to lives, families, business ‘s and the economy has never been experienced before in our generation. The repercussions and lasting aftermath are yet to be seen. I am asking myself some important questions.
What can we learn from the situation? How has the world changed? More importantly… what adaptive measures are we keen to retain and what lessons (if any) have we learnt apart from “Please don’t inject disinfectant".
Digitalization – this is not a company fad or nice to have, this is a business necessity and essential for firms to operate, perform and survive. Without video conferencing, which has been around for years, but only now widely adopted, not many firms would have been able to function as normal during this time. Could this spark the end of business travel as we know it? How will airlines and the hospitality industries react?
Even good old procurement requesting wet ink on contracts for approvals, or hand delivered contract’s and invoices, 60 days payment terms! Now having to adapt towards digital signatures and immediate approvals. Could this expedite a number of business processes moving forward, has to and why wouldn’t we want this.
Remote Working – when will we see our offices again, will we appreciate them more, or, is there now less emphasis on the necessity of the corporate HQ?
Leadership – We all need a leader and/or a role model, someone that can be relied upon to provide direction, honest insight and clarity. We have all observed how political leaders in Germany and New Zealand have shone in the face of adversity whilst others are most likely beyond reputational repair, unfortunately using the platform provided for political leverage.
Communication - The ability to talk to colleagues and peers is essential, out of sight and out of mind is dangerous for any business of any size. This can inevitably create challenges in the new world when we are introduced back into society once again.
Data – Like many I have read more news articles and followed statics websites in the pursuit of accurate data. Why? – perhaps to keep the brain active, or perhaps so I can, react, plan or simply make more informed and better decisions.
Bad data leads to bad decisions, ultimately leading to bad outcomes. It’s clear, Investment in accurate, valid data is an essential learning, obvious as it may seem, however, are companies looking at their own “human data”, (their people).
Family and Friends Appreciation – I have spoken more to family and friends in the last 3 weeks than I have in the past 3 years! Values are changing or are they just reaching the surface as the focus and weighting is a truer reflection of how we really feel.
Why did it take a global pandemic to set up regular Video calls to check in with the people that we care for most?
Supply Chain and Logistics – are struggling with demand, I was too reliant on same day or next day delivery, now serious forward planning is required, or asking ourselves, do we really need it.
Exercise –as lockdowns continue or get tighter, exercise is limited and the endorphins that are missing are proving a valuable part of DNA in order to function effectively, the same way a car needs a regular service for optimal performance.
Office hours – working 9 to 5, 5 days a week, does it give us the structure we crave, like many I have been working every day at all hours of the day, in order to survive or at the very least not feel guilty for not being in the office. I am assuming that where it’s possible to work from home, people are working far more hours, with no distinct line drawn between when we should stop work and when we should embrace our home, it’s all morphed into one!
Mental Health/Wellbeing - and state of mind is so important, never before has taking care of our mental health been so important. With the closure of gyms, sporting activities and selfishly golf courses, our usual release from the stresses and strains of work life have evaporated. Nevertheless, the importance of finding varied and different ways to relax and unwind is paramount during times of lock down and social distancing. Setting boundaries on work time and down time are key to maintaining a healthy state of mind.
Diet – Padlock on the fridge. Say no more.
Education – For many of us, the closure of schools has been one of the most difficult and challenging repercussions of dealing with Covid-19. Trying to navigate what, ‘working from home’ is supposed to look like. Financial pressures to pay school fees for an education they are not receiving on site has caused many families to question how their child’s education may look post covid-19. Is home schooling through a school network a product that is here to stay? Or is the resistance to home learning because it’s new and we are scared of change, or is it because we cannot yet qualify if it is effective? We know that our children have access to information and tools that did not exist as we were growing up, do we need to embrace this technology further?
Perhaps some children have reaped the benefits of home education and a hybrid of virtual classrooms and classroom learning is the future, It has worked effectively for business schools for a number of years.
Healthcare – We all agree and are very grateful to the healthcare community, both paid and voluntary. We demand immediate access to the best healthcare professionals, but are they being rewarded for their bravery – I’m not sure. This raises questions around the distribution of revenue and income, medical insurance premiums are at its highest, we are witnessing large scale financial negligence with the likes of NMC…Does the situation make us review private and public Healthcare reform in its entirety?
The next chapter – how we recover, is a combination of Government support, smart decisions, and an adoption of post COVID 19 precautions.
How are we as people, or companies expected to make the right decisions, when governments around the world are scratching their heads and wondering which country has performed the best?
What’s the measure, is it accurate, do we trust it.
We need to provide ourselves with the best information that we have access to, communicate with friends, family and colleagues, listen to leadership, don’t be afraid or too proud to ask for help, there are billionaires around the world searching for financial relief and government intervention.
Self-awareness and mental resilience are our best assets right now, knowing when to ask for help rather than waiting to see what happens.
There is more to come and whilst there is light at the end of the tunnel, what is on the other side is the biggest question. Let’s continue to evolve, the education from the past 90 days will make us all far more equipped in the future for the inevitable next challenge that is presented to us.
Author: Chris Abreu is a Director and Co-Founder at www.ecap.ae