There, I’ve said it. I didn’t even wait a sentence or two to mention it, let’s just acknowledge the elephant in the room. In many different ways, we have all been affected by the Coronavirus. Hopefully, you and your loved ones have not been stricken by it. But you have all either been social distancing, become home-school teachers or are now working at home. It’s completely taken us out of our normal routines, both in our personal and professional lives. This is different.
Out of necessity, Covid-19 has caused us all to reassess how we operate. Everyone is trying to figure out how to get work done in our new normal. Companies have their workforce spread out and fractured, looking for ways to keep the workflow going in a most unusual situation. We have all been forced to adapt, like it or not. Depending on how you look at it, this presents opportunities when you examine the challenges ahead of us. Working from home since March, I’ve realized my routine is markedly different than it is at the office, and that’s a very good thing.
No one has a definitive answer as to how long our current condition will last. End of Summer? Fall? Winter? Who knows? It’s a question we would all love to have answered so we can return to some semblance of normalcy. But there’s one thing I’m sure of: The world is still turning and business still needs to get done. I’m not going to address the politics of our current condition (we all have strong opinions about that), but I’d like to talk about some observations and opportunities that are present to all of us.
Remember the days when we used to have multiple internal and external in-person meetings? Hello Zoom! Our new way of communicating has created an interesting byproduct: Focus. Video meetings seem to be more on point, have more purpose. I’m not suggesting that Zoom, Webex or (enter your favorite) meetings will ever take the place of a good old fashioned handshake and the energy of everyone being in the same room, but it’s caused all of us to communicate with intention. In other words, they are more efficient. So it’s very important to be targeted and strategic in your communications. Focus on the objective. You have a rapt audience that is looking to solve problems and is willing to listen to what you have to say. Make it count.
A funny thing happens when you have to throw your normal routine on its head: The way that you work and how you get things done fundamentally changes. Processes we regularly did in an office setting now have to be re-thought for digital application since we are not face to face with our co workers or clients. A little reinvention can go a long way. For 76West, it’s caused us to reconfigure the signature, intentionally analog tools that we normally use in-person with our clients and update them for our socially distanced world by taking advantage of technology and its reach. We’ve found that our new way of operating creates opportunities for increased collaboration with our clients (something that we normally pride ourselves on) in a more seamless way. Key to successfully updating your processes during Covid-19 in a digital realm is to make sure that you stay true to your company’s principles and character. Think of it this way: The delivery vehicle may have changed, but the underlying foundation should be consistent to pre-Covid operations. You will find that your new process is actually better and is more inclusive. Which client doesn’t love that?
With a majority of the workforce displaced and at home, timelines are inevitably going to change. From a business perspective, that can be a bit of a problem as it affects scope of work and even cash flow. But it’s only a problem if you haven't addressed it. 6 months into this mess, I for one, would love to be able to walk into a grocery store and be confident that I can easily get the products I normally don’t think twice about without considering their availability. That hasn’t happened yet as the supply chain has not caught up with demand (for whatever reason…). So I temper my expectations and plan accordingly. This is no different for your business. Work still needs to get done but plans need to be updated and timelines adjusted. Be patient and realign expectations. Deadlines have consequences and it goes both ways. Make sure all parties understand their adjusted roles and the effect their involvement has on the timeline. Make clear and sensible recommendations to facilitate the completion of your initiatives and remember that you are all working towards the same goal under unprecedented circumstances.
Lastly, one of the most important things that Covid-19 has brought into the daylight is the importance of relationships, both in family and business. We’re all in this together. Let the people and clients who are important to you know that you are still there and are ready to support them. Be of service. Demonstrate how you can be a solution to the unusual challenges they face and bring calm, efficient and stable guidance. Let them know that despite the environment that we are currently operating in, you are ready to bring new ideas to the table on their behalf.
We’re not out of the woods yet with Covid-19, but we don’t have to aimlessly wander about with our business operations and philosophy. Use this opportunity to make something positive out of the hairball we’ve all been living through and be transformative. With that in mind:
- Focus your communications on the objective
- Reinvent your processes by taking advantage of technology while staying true to your company’s principles and character
- Be patient and realign your expectations with timelines
- Bring calm, efficient and stable guidance to your clients
Gandhi once said, “If we could change ourselves, the tendencies in the world would also change. As a man changes his own nature, so does the attitude of the world change towards him… We need not wait to see what others do.” What does this have to do with Covid-19 and our current environment? Challenging times require innovative solutions. If you want to see transformation, you need to lead it yourself and change how things are done.