The Surprisingly Positive Side Of COVID-19
If the news is anything to go by, the worst of COVID-19 isn’t over. Yet. Experts predict a second wave of the pandemic. And predictions resound of a death threat aimed at the entire human race. Before they can introduce a vaccine, the healthcare industry will endure more loss.
The global economy has also suffered, of course. In a statement early in April 2020, the IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva said, “Just three months ago, we expected positive per capita income growth in over 160 of our member countries in 2020…Today, that number has been turned on its head: we now project that over 170 countries will experience negative per capita income growth this year.”
COVID-19 and its global impact are bad news. No doubts there. But its impact has become a good omen of the heights of human resilience.
Social distancing is only one visible impact of COVID-19. If community response is an indicator, the post-COVID-19 world will be a better place. Much more than the world before it.
Impact On People
Sources report that Zoom’s users have grown from 200 million to 300 million in less than one month. Despite security concerns, and the software’s existing limitations on time and usage. It’s not the only virtual meeting software out there either.
What Zoom’s success tells us is that businesses are finally ready to embrace the benefits of remote work. Earlier, it was an inconvenience or a privilege. Now its benefits are finally being recognized. By everyone. The onset of remote work makes it possible for excluded talent to take part again.
The implicit bias that existed in our earlier treatment of talent, has diminished. An individual’s:
- Physical disability
- Caregiving status
- Number and age of dependents
- Religious views
- Gender and marital status
- Sexual orientation
Were in fact, reasons potent enough to disadvantage them in the corporate world. Often, they were reasons to prevent entry at all, let alone mobility. The problem was that these biases were hard to prove. But they were still measured and expressed themselves in unhealthy statistics. One report discusses the costs of ‘looking the part’ here, and how the cost is disproportionately high for women. Even brands seen as progressive come under fire for enforcing gender-based rules not aligned with business and clearly discriminatory.
COVID-19 forced us to remove the line between “employee” and “worker”. Value has rapidly shifted from eligibility to productivity. When everyone–from BoDs to interns must fit a 3” X 2” virtual window, what you’re wearing stops mattering.
It has also called to attention the difference between:
- Flexibilities actually needed and
- Concessions demanded before COVID-19
People who justified performance slack with parental responsibilities are now accountable. Freeloaders are less invisible. Thanks to remote work.
COVID-19 has given people a new perspective on time too. Businesses enjoy:
- Improved time management
- Enhanced visibility across processes
- Goal alignment
- Individual discipline and
The challenge will be to recapture these strengths in their most zealous form. After the workforce returns to the office.
Impact On Society
The United States is fortunate to have social security and stimulus packages. And a per-capita population that will not weigh down its institutions or infrastructure. Not all economies are that fortunate.
For many, the lockdown carries real fears of mass starvation and health crises on top of COVID-19. Their governments are either indifferent, apathetic, or incompetent to reduce their suffering. And charities and NGOs can only do so much after curtailed transport and commerce.
It’s in these economies that social enterprise comes to the rescue. Via:
- Frugality and
- Identification of the most critical ‘connecting points’
Social enterprise delivers solutions to those who most need them. Without burdening other stakeholders to breaking point.
Innovative alternatives to:
Owe themselves less to the public sector or up-for-glam startups. And more to determined, technocrats and specialists out to make a difference.
Impact On Business And The Future Of Work
- Bloated organograms?
- Porous structures that overemphasize scapegoating and undermine personal accountability?
- Manufactured abuses of authority that attack healthy corporate cultures?
They damage organizations, in the same way, COVID-19 attacks healthy bodies. With no warning, a long incubation period, and no known cure.
A positive of COVID-19 has been the return of intellectual and entrepreneurial humility. Ironic, yes? Businesses deemed too big to fail have been the first to ‘cut the fat.’
The reality of their corporate fiction has finally surfaced. For their employees, and for society.
Businesses who will survive will do so via agility, determination, and painful introspection. Businesses that never looked beyond short-term results have to build their “long term.” Now. It is their only survival mechanism.
And finally, the future of work will start to look hopeful again.
This forced downtime has given busy workers the opportunity and resources to learn. They’ll return to work:
- Better skilled
- More prepared to deal with emerging business challenges
- Equipped with more ideas and a
- Shared global world view
Innovation as an outcome of the COVID-19 era will create new ways of:
- Managing and
- Building the workforce of the future.
It will translate into more meaningful ways of recognizing our best talent.
The uncertainty and fear surrounding COVID-19 has linked it with an air of gloom. But for those of us who are behaving and advocating responsible living, this period can become the harbinger of the next golden age of human resilience and personal excellence.