Author: Sam Nunn
Fast-forward to 6 months or even 1 year from now… what do you think the “new norm” will be? This is the question on many people’s minds right now as we continue to wonder how we will get back to Business as Usual – and what that even looks like when we get there.
Since COVID-19 has been spreading around the world, governments and businesses have seen an exponential change in how decisions are made and put into effect. Some decisions, prior to the pandemic, took months if not years to become reality – and the train has well and truly left the station for many, but has this set a good or bad precedent for things to come in the years ahead?
The Rush to Remote Working
At first it was encouraged, and then it became mandatory, with businesses scrapping to get their hands on laptops as the channel started to dry up the later people left it. Products such as Office 365 were rapidly implemented to allow access to key collaboration tools like SharePoint and Microsoft Teams.
This begs the question as to whether these tools were put in place in the correct way? Are these businesses using SharePoint to its full potential? And, if upfront purchases for hardware were made for the sake of getting staff up and running from home, what will happen to this equipment when we return to work?
A Helping Hand
Policies and schemes are still being pushed through thick and fast as we continue to react to the Coronavirus Pandemic – it is predicted that we could see more than $10 trillion being pumped into the global economy. Schemes such as the UK Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) have been created to help pay people’s wages, and the USA has even been sending cheques in the post to members of the public! We have seen well over 100 counties enforcing a full or partial lockdown affecting billions worldwide, and we’ve worked together to streamline the process towards creating a vaccine.
Governments globally have had to take action to try and predict and overcome a potentially significant economic downturn when we do finally recover from this pandemic.
Do governments now have the capabilities to make decisions quicker, without having to deal with all the “Red Tape” that has often limited decisions in the first place? Will governments have to make difficult decisions on who and what pays for these bailouts? There will no doubt be an upswing in Austerity measures to help alleviate the recent injections into the economy.
The New Norm
The world as we know it is changing on a daily and a weekly basis, with organisations now implementing “long haul” strategies for when businesses and members of the public return to normal. Social distancing is likely to be in place for the foreseeable future although it hasn’t been confirmed as of yet, so when the lockdown is relaxed how will a business operate? Will we see empty desks between staff? Queues in shops and onsite facilities such as food and restrooms? All of these procedures will need to be documented and enforced – a difficult request for companies that don’t have additional office capacity.
Personally, I’ve seen an increase in many organisations looking at implementing remote working for weeks and, in some cases, months post lockdown – especially after many of us have invested in our “home office”, upgrading the unused spare bedroom or dining table in the house to our company “Zen space”.
I’d predict that visiting the office once or twice a week along with a limited number of staff, and spending the remaining working days from home will become a new normal for a while.
Businesses will begin to reopen, and the economy will be spurred back into life, albeit with some changes to how we operate. The new normal is not one to be afraid of but certainly has to be embraced. With change comes teething issues, but the change to flexible working models and technologies is one that will see businesses streamline processes for the better, and forever.
Technologies such as collaboration through Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Zoom, and utilising SharePoint to enable simultaneously working on documents are certainly game changers in this pandemic.
The new normal will open avenues that were never before on your “business path” and I believe many of us will come out of this pandemic with processes that were never planned, but that will help slingshot the economy back to pre-COVID19 times (and maybe even better?).
One thing is for sure. We must all embrace the remarkable efforts made by businesses to help us all get through this together. This sense of community has never been stronger.