The Baby and the Bathwater

The COVID-19 lockdown has seen a major disruption to “business as usual”, and has massively tested the business continuity plans of those organisations wise enough to have them. I’ve some experience of working with organisations’ “disaster recovery” teams to realise that those plans are unlikely to be ideal for this situation.

Organisations’ responses that I’ve seen have fallen into 3 broad categories:

  • Shut up shop and hope to survive
  • Keep running the business with limited capacity using as many home-based workers as possible
  • Carpe Diem – seize the opportunity to grow the business by expanding expanding web-enabled capabilities.

The end of lockdown is not clear so some businesses will be completely focused on answering “how do we survive until it ends?”

Wiser businesses will also be asking “How do we gain competitive advantage when it ends?”

When it does end, it is likely to be phased so organisations need a set of plan to cope with returning to “the new normal” as profitably as possible. What does that mean?

It means learning from these trying times we’re living though and recognising the good things we’re seeing:

  • Traffic jams and commute time gone
  • More time with family, cooking more healthy food
  • Improved work-life balance
  • Empty offices, Business travel gone and virtual teamworking via the Internet through the roof and proving effective
  • and so on

We don’t want to throw away these good things in a senseless rush back to “the old normal” because there are real advantages to businesses that can operate effectively in this remote and distributed way:

  • Reduced office costs
  • Happier and more productive staff
  • Greater resilience to further disruption
  • More attractive employment for new recruits
  • Lower carbon footprint

We need to start planning now for the “new normal”, optimising a new way of working based on all we have learned the hard way, and not throwing out the baby with the bathwater!

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