Whether you find yourself engaging with this Leading through change article and webinar feature, in the very throes of the pandemic, in the immediate aftermath of lockdown or even some years down the line, Futurist and Founder of Tomorrow Today, Graeme Codrington identifies the major business disruptions and what businesses can learn from Covid-19.
What does COVID-19 disruption look like?
The world was not entirely unprepared for a global pandemic of Covid-19’s scale. An unprecedented event such as this has been worked into analysts’ future predictions for the past 10-15 years – alongside an asteroid strike amongst others! Epidemiologists too have been modelling this situation for a very long time which resulted in many countries following a similar response pattern.
The first set of emerging disruption patterns that might aid you and your business when thinking about life after Covid-19 relate to what happens during lockdown itself. In many cases during this pandemic, lockdown did not see an immediate dramatic impact across the board in terms of everything simply closing down, despite the curvature in cases continuing to rise and that is due to the delay in symptoms beginning to show themselves.
The third and fourth weeks are when spikes began to occur, and it is only in weeks five and six that we begin to see curves settle and plummet – showing that the lockdown initiative is working successfully.
But what is the fundamental aim of this initiative? It is important to recognise that the objective is not to cure the disease – it is to find a vaccine which is likely a 12-18-month process. What this means in terms of lockdown is that it can only end when we know that our healthcare systems are not going to be overwhelmed by dealing with the disease.
That said, the end of lockdown does not mean that life and the world of business can simply return to normal. Instead, governments slowly begin to lower restrictions that were put in place and this can take up to several months. What does this mean for businesses? It means that all employees returning to work at once is not a feasible route to take. Social distancing still needs to be considered, meaning that a traditional office space may not be fit for purpose for some time.
The crisis period of 2020 cannot be considered as merely a blip – it is a once in a lifetime, re-alignment of the way we do almost everything. Instead we will need to adjust to and harness the benefits of the new normal.
Perhaps your business had not implemented a working from home policy until the start of the pandemic, but this initiative has ultimately constituted the greatest experiment in the future of work that has ever been conducted. And what if it works? What if the impact of the experiment has irreparably changed attitudes towards the traditional working environment forever?
Another factor to consider is the differing rates at which countries are coming out of the lockdown period and the impact that will have on global trade. At the time of writing, China is beginning to reopen its factories and is effectively open for business. Meanwhile, the United States is only now going into a proper lockdown – meaning it will take them longer to recover.
As other countries also emerge from lockdown, they will be looking for supplies and trading partners – providing a rare opportunity to change global supply chains and reset economies.
Leaders must prepare for the rise of a new normal across the board from the biggest levels of global politics and power plays, to the individual levels of where people choose to work and how they set their work-life balance.
How can businesses set themselves up for success?
The first step to take, in the aftermath of lockdown, is to work with your team to assess how things could change across the next year, 18 months or even the next 3 years by looking at:
Global politics and economics – borders and trade and macroeconomics
Your country – will it become more nationalistic or more globalised for example?
Your industry – the future of the way your business functions and the services you provide
We now have the opportunity to truly reimagine our world - there is a moment of reset coming and while that reset might not happen quickly, asking yourself the right questions now, in order to achieve future success is vital.