Written by SACC Florida trainee Jenny Biver, July 2020
If there were ever a time to think outside the box – or, outside the office – it’s now. Covid-19 has driven us to think in new and innovative ways, forced us to tackle a variety of new obstacles and adapt to new situations, and without really knowing it, united us to keep business going, albeit not as usual. As the world is slowly starting to pick up speed again, the question has shifted from what can we do to adjust? to how many of our adjustments are here to stay? What have we learned from this forced experiment and what can we implement into future business practices?
Out of sight does not mean out of mind – the evolution of company culture
The most obvious change that has affected people is remote working from home. And while this one is here to stay; it goes much deeper than simply not going to the office. Ironically, social distancing has brought people together, colleagues are more consistently in touch both with each other and their managers. Connection has become a necessity to survive in the home office. Furthermore, control has given way to trust. Bosses are learning to trust their employees, realizing that out of sight does not mean out of mind, and employees are learning to work with less guidance and oversight.
Business + purpose = true
For some time now companies have been wavering to fit into the bigger picture, amidst environmental, social, and political dilemmas. To find a comfortable spot between corporate social responsibility and maximizing profit. Enter a global pandemic that forced everyone into an existential crisis. As the pandemic spread, many companies engaged in new entrepreneurial activities, producing hand sanitizers and face masks for example. Many businesses paid their employees while activities were suspended, others donated large amounts of money to those disadvantaged by the economic crisis. Some provided their resources to support education initiatives or childcare, or provided employees with gift cards from local restaurants or coffee shops.
The lockdown provided everyone with the opportunity to hit the reset button to really think about what is important and reconnect to core values. And it seems most have taken a hard look in the mirror and stepped up with bold initiatives and a newly found purpose that goes far beyond the production modality, and instead focuses inspiring human potential.
The leaders of tomorrow
Leadership is seldom more vital than during a crisis. It also becomes abundantly clear what kind of leadership is most effective. Many leaders have had to step up and lead entire teams from home and manage more dynamic team forms. Those who are able to communicate clearly, remain calm, plan long-term but take short-term action are the most effective leaders during though times, and it is possible those who can’t up their game are weeded out. Furthermore, in a crisis, it is the ones who have the biggest impact on people that become natural leaders, and sometimes they are not the ones we expect. It is a sort of “survival of the fittest”, where to ones who step up to the plate, respond to difficulties in the most effective ways and show up with empathy and compassion are the ones who people turn to.
As companies are getting back to business (not as usual), everyone is adapting to the new normal, finding different ways to make it work. Sometimes we need an extra push to get outside the comfort zone of what is working, and maybe a global pandemic made us do just that. And maybe stepping outside of the comfort zone of the office is making us rewrite business history.