As more people get vaccinated across the US, it is starting to open up options….and considerations….to explore what our NEW, new normal will look like in the months and years ahead.
There is a critical decision to be made: How are you going to move forward?
From where I sit, there are 3 options….and only one of them makes sense to remain competitive as we move forward. And, quite frankly, clients only need me for one of these options.
Return to 2019:
The first option is to make some attempt to return to the past, pre-covid. Basically, turn the clock back to 2019.
As we think about the post pandemic world, I hear so many people go “I can’t wait to get back to…..”
And I get it. I’m human. I can’t wait to get back to hugging my parents, going out to dinner with friends, and celebrating holidays.
And yet. And yet.
That is default thinking. It’s very human.
There is a problem with defaulting to default thinking of what we know and have experienced in the past: It doesn’t take into account that we have all been changed by the past year. Our world has been changed. And some of the changes are ones in which we as individuals, teams, companies, and systems do not want to go back to.
To default to how things were pre-pandemic does not take into account those changes.
It’s like being nostalgic for VHS tapes and DVDs, and not acknowledging that the world has moved on. We still want the ability to watch movies at home, but it is in a different format. To apply this in business terms, it’s basically being Blockbuster. What if Blockbuster had evolved and starting mailing their DVDs to customers like Netflix? Or entered streaming services? Who is to say that Blockbuster wouldn’t be a vibrant business today? But they didn’t do that. They remained steadfastly in the business of VHS and DVD.
So this approach to go back to how everything was done in 2019 is like being Blockbuster.
Only worse. Because reverting to how everything operated in 2019 isn’t going to get you 2019 results. It is going to be the path to decline. Decline because you are not meeting the future where it is. Decline because you aren’t accounting for the many ways we’ve changed. Decline because you will not be competitive for the best talent to solve for a new world.
Stay in the Present:
As humans, our brains tend to think in extremes. Hot /cold. Yes/no. This or that.
As human beings, we also like staying within our comfort zones. What we know.
If we don’t like option #1 to“go back to how things were”, another option is to stay with the current status quo. After all, people like working from home, they like being less busy….so let’s just stay with how things are. The last option was the past, this option is the present.
I don’t recommend staying in the status quo for the long term, either. Why? Because the present doesn’t prepare you, your team or company to meet a future that is coming FAST upon us. Real fast.
Staying stuck in the present also wouldn’t acknowledge that there are aspects of our current world we miss and/or want to solve for….. Like grandparents hugging their kids. Family gatherings. Innovative whiteboarding sessions and office happy hours.
Staying the current course will also lead to decline. Why? Because businesses who choose this option will not reap the benefits of the economic recovery as much as they could. In fact, they could miss out altogether in not offering products, services and experiences that address the unmet needs in a way that incorporates our learnings from the past year.
Anyone remember Borders Bookstores? They filed for bankruptcy 10 years ago and closed almost 400 retail locations. Barnes and Noble, though, is still in business. Why? Borders didn’t acknowledge the trend of people buying books online. They didn’t even offer virtual book solutions until 4 years…yes 4 years…after Amazon launched their Kindle, and 2 years after Barnes & Noble launched their nook. They stayed in the present and did not meet the future where it was.
In both “going back to how things were” and “staying with the current status quo”, a company, team, or individual cuts themselves off from options. They limit their opportunity for recovery, revenue, and growth.
Creating a New Path Forward:
That leaves us with the 3rd option…
You can stay stuck in the past or the present, or you can create a new path forward.
This is the option I recommend if you are a company that wants to recover, increase revenue, experience exponential growth, and be profitable. What that new path forward is, will be specific to each company. It can even be specific to a team within a company.
This option, quite frankly, is the one that ALL companies should take on if they are wanting to be well positioned for the NEW, new normal and the future of work. To attract, retain and engage the best talent. To meet the future WHERE IT IS AT…and be willing to adapt and change with the future.
Now while this is easy to say, it really takes something to do. There are a lot of things to be considered to alleviate some of the worry, anxiety, potentially unconscious fears you have as you head into the post-pandemic future.
There are many factors to consider in creating a new path forward. We will explore many of these over the coming weeks including Talent, Work Experience, Culture & Engagement, The Role of the Office, Technology …and more.
One of the most important things you can do to make creating your future easier is to bring in a 3rd party to help you chart this course. It could be HeatherP Solutions or someone else, …it’s simply important that you get the support. An outside perspective to ask the questions, challenge the accepted “truths”, and explore ideas outside of your paradigm. A guide with experience in office-first, hybrid, and remote-first work environments. Someone who understands how to think and transform ways of working to serve your business. An advisor with experience across functional lines who understands how to shape culture and impr