The coronavirus pandemic feels like it’s been with us forever but it’s only been 5 months coming up on 6. Oh, how things can change in 6 months. When the lockdowns and social distancing instituted to control the pandemic were introduced many understandably decided to cast their minds to what they would do after the pandemic. A little more pessimistic I held back from talk of after the pandemic. Even as we speak about post-pandemic, it refers to life after the arrival of the pandemic and not the end of it.
Being online was big before the pandemic and its importance was underscored by the pandemic. The fact is that just being online is not enough as many have learnt. It’s a tough and formidable battleground that has a lot of lessons to teach. That said it is becoming more and more important. What has been most interesting to watch is how those with digital skills have managed to manoeuvre in these tough times.
Technology adoption by force
The flipside of the increasing importance of online platforms has been how many have been forced to adopt technology where they otherwise would’ve preferred not to or had no reason to. Technology that has been available for over a decade (video conferencing) has been used more in 2020 than in the 9 years proceeding it. Technology adoption is not always a matter of “it’s cool, let’s do it” and is sometimes forced upon us. Most times for the better. Expect a lot more of these types of shifts as we move forward. The forced adoption of technology is not without its challenges as we have seen through various video conferencing horror stories. A lot more of this is coming.
If it can be done remotely…
If it can be done remotely why are we not doing it remotely? Business tradition and culture have given way to new ways of doing things because of necessity. It’s not that simple for every business but if it really can be done remotely or in another way for that matter then it’s worth trying. Remote work was in existence and use before the pandemic but there is nothing like needing to do something to make it happen. Results varied as people moved to work from home arrangements. Those who had at least experimented with the idea had an easier time. But its not just work, it’s interviews too and many other processes that can be done remotely and this is a trend that will be on the up certainly.
Local or buffer
This is something many operating businesses that depended on imports learnt the hard way. Now it makes sense that some products or components just cannot be sourced locally. In those cases, it may be wise to build buffer stocks. To be fair nobody would have told you to hold 6 months worth of buffer stock but one is better than none as many found out. They say management is about dealing with complexity where leadership is about dealing with change and the pandemic truly showed us this. Having local supply alternatives could’ve saved a lot of businesses and at least allowed them to adjust. By the time most businesses woke up to this, local supplier options where inundated with business. Sometimes it pays to know your local alternatives even just for the sake of knowing.
Learn it before you need it
In future, we will be wiser to learn about things before we are driven to the point of needing them. Others found it very easy to adapt to the technology needs of 2020 because they had some or a deep understanding of how it works beforehand. In all cases, if you can, learn it before you need it. The biggest reason for this is teething pains, the cost of learning through mistakes and a lack of competence. Learning before you need it allows you to go through these teething pains in low-pressure situations. Learning when things are high pressure is almost always a disaster.
Whether the pandemic ends or we just get tired of waiting life must go on. As business owners, we will need to change in the ways highlighted above to come to grips with what is required of us in future.