People find safety and security in the status quo. Today’s, Covid-19 disruption is not normal or the status quo and it is creating a new normal. When your work life is suddenly disrupted it can cause a great deal of stress and anxiety. As far as business disruptions go, Covid-19 is a different kind of disruption.
Normally, businesses get disrupted by changes in the economy, competitors, acquisitions, etc.. Sometimes businesses grow so fast they reach a point where they are compelled to change. These disruptions all provide time for planning. The current one did not.
Regardless of the cause, one thing always follows; a desire to get back to normal.
Over my career, I’ve acquired many companies, and have also been part of companies that had been acquired. Most times the acquirer handled the acquisition with kid gloves the first year. This occurs for two reasons:
- A desire to not disrupt the business and cause unnecessary damage
- A need to understand the business better before proceeding with integration
Even when the acquirer treats the acquisition with kid gloves, there is still a great deal of stress and anxiety. Every little change is treated as something negative and soon a mantra of “I wish we could go back” gets heard in the workforce.
Having been through many disruptions like this, I’m here to tell you there is no going back.
When businesses get disrupted, they adapt. It is simply human nature to do this. Through the process of adapting, we innovate and find new ways to get things done. We often find new methods superior to the old ways of doing things.
I’ve worked out of my home for the last ten years. Prior to working remotely, I would have told you that something gets lost by not being there. Over the last decade, I’ve adapted and I’m more productive than ever working from home.
Covid-19 has caused remote work to become the new normal. Companies are learning quickly that many jobs get done just as efficiently from home as they did in the office. We’re finding new ways to interact with each other and stay connected.
Having been a remote worker, it’s refreshing to see that cat walking through the background of a video conference, or the dog barking at the door during a meeting are just accepted as normal. Hey, when you’re at home kids and pets just happen. When you were the only remote person at the company this was embarrassing, now it’s the new normal.
Bigger changes than remote work are afoot. When you see General Motors rapidly spin up ventilator production or hear we might have an antiviral in less than a year, necessity once again spurred invention. How we invent and how we innovate manufacturing is changing.
I guarantee you there is someone in senior management over at GM thinking: if we could take IP and produce ventilators that fast, what else could we be producing? That’s got to be a real eye-opener, especially when you consider the financial hole this virus has created for most of these companies.
I also guarantee you that there are people at GM thinking: I can’t wait for things to go back to normal. My point is that things rarely go back to what was normal. Through necessity, we’re creating a new normal. This might involve GM making ventilators or some other off the path products. We’re almost certainly going to see more work done through remote teams.
Welcome to the new normal – There’s no going back.