What will “Back to Normal” look like post COVID-19?

by | Apr 6, 2020

A person works remotely at a laptop while video calling coworkers

COVID-19 has forced parents, students, workers, employers, and institutions to rethink and retool the way they have operated for decades. In a span of two weeks, the largest economy in the world, the US, witnessed ten million people lose their jobs. Some of those jobs may never come back, or if they did, they will most likely take a different shape.

The disruption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) has been visible to many of us in the manufacturing and shipment handling businesses. AI is projected to replace 50% of traditional jobs within the next 15 years, according to Kai-Fu Lee, CEO of Sinovation Ventures and author of the book “AI Superpowers: China, Silicon Valley, and the New World Order.” Many thought AI would eventually become a threat to our jobs and livelihood.

Yet, it is not AI that is eliminating and disrupting our jobs today. We did not get any early notification that our jobs are gone, or we will be transitioning to work from home and stay home. The series of cascading crisis and impacts will still be felt for many years to come. Countries impacted by COVID-19 figured out that the only way to combat this pandemic is through sharing, collaborating and learning with full transparency, instead of casting blame or taking credit for a solution.

Many enlightened organizations are implementing similar strategies through collaborating with their clients, suppliers, contractors, and their employees. Senior executives are reexamining and reassessing their long-held policies. They look at how their siloed matrix command and control structure is functioning in this current condition, only to realize that their employees can be trusted to do the right thing and do not need to be micromanaged and constantly supervised to yield even a better outcome.

It was not until these unprecedented times that CEO’s and top-level executives confessed that they have not been as empathetic towards their employees as they should be. From spending the past few weeks working from home, many have gained new insights into their employees’ family life and challenges they were facing on any given day before COVID-19. Some also recognized that not all home situations are conducive to work from home scenarios and are now offering alternative accommodations for their employees.

While COVID-19 has disrupted our normal work environment, it has forced us to adapt to new technology platforms that we can use to our advantage going forward post COVID-19. There are still many forms of technology that can enhance our work that we haven’t tapped into yet. This could potentially be the first step in embracing or even accelerating new technologies into our industry and daily lives.

When we emerge and resume some sort of normalcy from this global crisis, we all will be faced with the same question: What will the new “norm” look like? Will my laptop and mobile device replace my desk at work? Will I have more autonomy and trust that I will do the right thing without my supervisor breathing down my neck, or as soon as this pandemic is behind us will we go back to business as usual?

Do I need to physically see my doctor, banker or teacher? Aside from our need for social interaction as humans, will remote learning, conferencing, and home delivery be the new norm?

I can attest from our own experience, with a great degree of certainty, that this global pandemic has brought our company team closer. Though virtually, it allowed us the opportunity to check in daily about the well-being of our families. It also made us realize that with determination and full transparent collaboration with each other and our clients, we can still deliver on our promises and live up to our core values of integrity, commitment to excellence, and exceeding expectations … Always!

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