We are all having a hard time as we try to rationalize the impact that a global pandemic has had on the way we live. It’s horrific and fascinating. Horrific because of the massive economic and social damage it has inflicted so quickly. Fascinating because it is forcing a decade of change inside of months.
For the first time ever change is in real time.
We’ve typically looked at change in retrospect. Stand here today and cast your memory back to the year you were born or the year you graduated from University. Look at your baby pictures or your wedding photos or your children’s first birthday. All you see is progress from that day forward. It may seem like a massive amount of advancement but, given what we are witnessing today, it really wasn’t that fast was it?
We ARE that boiling frog or lobster or whatever. Change has been happening around us, routines are gradually modified and we hardly notice. From 3 local television channels, to 50, to 1000 to unlimited content from around the world and we are still channel surfing. Change. Is. Boring. From no computer, to a tower on a desk, to one on your lap to one that fits in a pocket, to one that fits on a wrist. Change. Is. Boring.
Change. IS. Boring…until now.
If you spend a moment and think about how all this “change” has impacted your daily routines you’ll notice something alarming: It hasn’t. Until now. The job you may be doing may have been invented in the last 20-30 years but jobs do evolve to accommodate technological and societal advancements. For example, when the computer age swarmed us, developers emerged as a profession. Then the world realized that in order for the rest of us to use the technology, there was a desperate need for designers that could make it usable. And so on.
Professions change but the act of work hasn’t. We still go to an office space like our parents did and their parents before. We show up at a specific time and leave at the end of the day. We still get in our favourite mode of transportation and commute there and back every single day — except the weekends if you are lucky. Work has NOT changed despite itself until now.
It’s like the human race has rules about how we work and, despite the promise of innovation, we will stick by that regardless. The box has been drawn around us and we must fit in that or it isn’t normal.
We’ve all been forced to REALLY change our routines. This means no more gradual boil. We’ve been dropped into a direct boil and we have had to adjust. And we did. It may have taken a couple of weeks to get our bearings aligned but we did it. We CAN change and this is an incredible human trait so it is time to rethink things that should have been already.
It’s time to rethink how we manage people for starters. There is no room left anywhere for micromanaging leaders that lord over their employees. Those days are gone and they should be as well. Exit. No one liked working for that type and this world is suffocating them. An acceptable loss.
Location is not an asset
Location is another concept that needs to change. Not just offices but physical locations of any kind. If what you offer is a commodity this reality would have hit you hard over the last 2 months. Retail, movie theatres, restaurants, transportation services have all been closed and many won’t reopen. Those that do will be unique in their offerings that distinguish themselves from the others. It is time to rethink your business to make sure you survive. If your value isn’t clear, your business path isn’t either.
All of our kids are now out of school. Universities and colleges are now talking about not opening in the fall and pushing the learning online. They have been forced to remake their business model quickly. That model may open up the opportunity for cheaper education costs and therefore many more students. What will the global impact be of more university educated students? Incalculable but significant.
If you travel a lot for work or pleasure you know the pain of the airport and flight experience is what you have to endure to get where you are going. Long lines, dirty germ-filled planes, crappy food, no leg room, the middle seat…need I say more. Terrible, all of it and every single person accepts this — including the airlines. The ONLY way this process changes is when something catastrophic happens and the process of plane travel gets worse and worse. There is NEVER a change for the better when you have to use an airport. Add a pandemic and deep cleaning requirements to the already crazy lines and screening processes and a 1 hour flight now becomes a full day. No thank you. Business as usual needs to change. Remove the middle seat, remove the cloth that covers the seats, do whatever is necessary to not make the experience worse. One way is to bring back supersonic jets…
The appointment economy
Doctors and dentists and hairstylists know this already but appointments work at controlling traffic flow and reduce anxiety around large groups of people. It also enhances the experience and gets commitment to follow through. Have you ever gone to get your passport renewed and had to wait in that line all day? That is not progress. We have to move to an appointment-based economy. For 2 months we’ve been conditioned to finding a grocery delivery slot and waiting, now it is time for my gym to do the same. No one will want to work out with 100’s of other sweaty people that don’t clean their equipment after use. Appointments will rule and, the best part is that we’ll learn the importance of being on time.
Most humans are social beings and this is what we are desperately missing. Family, friends, gatherings, baseball. It’s true that we NEED these to feel normal. We NEED these to feel connected to our community. In the true spirit of the human we’ve actually taken this time to connect more with those that we’ve let slip away. We’ve taken the time to reach out, talk to and rekindle friendships that were lost for years. We crave connectivity and this time has allowed us to breath new life into old friendships.
This pandemic has forced our eyes open. Open eyes means we’ve seen the good and the bad and where the gaps are that need to be connected. We can’t ignore them now, we have to change the way we do things significantly in order to move forward. There is no more room for increments. Slow change along the same path won’t save our economy or protect us from whatever is to come. The only thing that is for sure is that if we don’t rethink the way we do things, this will happen again and the consequences of that will be even more devastating.