Deepak Chopra once said, “All great changes are preceded by chaos.” Although devastating, the pandemic, has driven changes that create opportunities that leaders can capitalize on by becoming proactive about establishing a competitive foothold in the post-pandemic world.
During the pandemic:
- Many were laid off. Of those who remained, many were displaced to virtual environments. Those with children had to navigate home schooling and childcare on top of work responsibilities.
- Technology departments were drafted to develop virtual work strategies. Operational efficiencies stalled, and new and innovative measures of employee productivity had to be crafted.
- Business and convention travel halted. In-person meetings were replaced by online gatherings, a concept that spilled into personal lives.
- The interpersonal environment of an office evaporated abruptly. Isolation became the standard.
- Office space became vacant space. Managers began reimagining the true need for traditional office space.
- Leaders, managers and associates rallied around the cause of keeping life going while staying safe, boosting unity.
As we emerge from the pandemic, we arrive at a new normal. The business world will look and act differently in many ways. Effective leaders will establish new standards, not follow others. Some changes will remain, some will return to pre-pandemic state, while others are yet to come.
- A hybrid workforce is emerging; some continue to work from home, others return to the office, and some experience a combination. Leaders must design environments that ensure cross-functional teams continue to work collaboratively.
- Leaders are using the inflection point to unify teams around long-term corporate strategies, reprioritizing efforts and streamlining procedures.
- Talent pools have dramatically expanded to include those who lost jobs and the geographically unconfined virtual workforce. Leaders can attract better-fitting talent that was historically geographically tethered and find more affordable virtual associates from lower cost-of-living regions. Job-seekers can find better jobs, better employers and, eventually, more competitive salaries.
- A new “meetings normal” is emerging. Remote technologies continue to advance and become commonplace, while face-to-face meetings become attractive again in certain circumstances. Technological security is improving, but security threats continue to emerge.
- The significant opportunity for financial efficiency remains. Although travel and rent will return in some regard, an opportunity exists to institutionalize fiscal discipline.
- Virtual corporate cultures need to be a focus. Associates need to feel that their supervisor and company are genuinely invested in their overall well-being, so leaders are finding ways to demonstrate care. Innovative virtual interactions, onsite meetings and new engagement tools are being implemented.
The post-pandemic period presents opportunities for savvy leaders to establish new norms for office environments, talent, fiscal discipline, policies and organizational culture. James Baldwin said, “Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.” We’ve reached an inflection point in business strategy. Now is the time to act on it.