We all have heard the story of an elephant in the room where each of the blind people present in the room visualized the elephant as per their imagination and understanding. While everyone gave a different portrayal of the elephant as per their imagination/understanding, it definitely gave the clear perspective about the elephant to all the members. This may have resulted in a diverged view point during discussion, however in the end the overall view must be holistic for all.
Something alike is currently happening around us concerning the Coronavirus. Some are calling it coronavirus, some are labelling it as COVID-19, but all have a conjoint assessment about this virus. You might have already read a lot about this through various articles, videos and webinars. A lot of people/organizations are still trying their best to decode, suggest their views about how corona will change the world post this disaster.
I am in no way dissimilar and trying my best to decode the impact of coronavirus on all of us. We all concur that coronavirus will bring a change for us in more than one way; however, my assessment is more oriented towards its impact on the organization:
- Respect Every Role: One thing which we all have fully comprehended during this crisis is that there is no role which we can label as big/small or impactful/non impactful anymore. All roles have their relevance and when the time arises, each role will substantiate its value beyond imagination. Organizations and nations require different roles to function smoothly and in the absence of appreciation for other roles (regardless of the pay cheque associated with it), this planet will struggle to survive. In the last few weeks, we all have seen numerous examples that CEOs are bound to sit at home and their delivery staff are leading their organization from the front to get closer to their customers. Our housekeeping staff and essential services are as important as our Strategy/Corporate function at the Head Office. Therefore, once we go back to normalcy, we should change our view point about the contribution of each role/role holder and should give them the acknowledgement they duly deserve.
- Decisions Have to Be Fast but Not Furious: When a catastrophe of this magnitude hits you which has no former reference point, the agility of the leaders and the calmness they demonstrate makes the whole difference. These are not the times to panic, but at the same time, not to procrastinate either! One has to not only make decisions which are in the best interest of their team members, but to make sure that they are swiftly percolated down to the last man standing so that everyone is in unison and acts with the same spirit. Once we are back, we must revisit the competencies required for our organization which stimulate this type of agility & awareness. One may contend that these are one-off occurrences in the lifespan of an organization and cannot be premeditated, however it is still better to attempt and build systems around them.
- Competitiveness Through Creativity: Like any tragedy, COVID19 also gave us ample opportunities to wear our creative hat; be it for personal or for business reasons. We all comprehend that creativity creates opportunity. In this tough time, we have seen how people have taken creativity to the next level (like use of toothpicks to press elevator buttons to avoid human contact!). In this race, organizations are also not lagging behind. Through their employees they have used this opportunity to take this challenge head on. We never expected automobile companies like Maruti or Mahindra to come out with their plan to manufacture ventilators or ITC/Marico to use Swiggy/Zomato to service their customers at home. Though all this is unprecedented, it still gives us a silver lining that once we are over with this crisis we will continue to reset our creativity button more often and will do different things, differently.
- Teams Will Transition to Tribes: One of the biggest impacts of coronavirus will be on the way we envisage roles in organizations. Instead of bundling activities into one role, I believe it will be reversed. Roles will perhaps be redefined as activities, hence the dependence on one individual, one function or one location will be minimized to a large extent. I further feel that this crisis will give us an opportunity to structure our teams. The whole game on how teams are defined and interpreted will change giving rise to a more tribe-oriented functioning. It is too early to envisage how & when it will change but for sure you will see a lot of organizations & consultants starting to function in this direction.
- Technology Is Not a Threat Anymore: We all have pondered for years as to how technology is a threat to human beings in the workplace and how people are getting addicted to gadgets. However, in the current situation, we have seen the appreciable side of technology and how technology became a savior for the humankind. Right from drones to disinfect localities to robots replacing human transactions in the infected areas, technology is pervasive and is now integral for human survival. In the time to come, this conversion will be steeper and will take a serious discussion in business planning. Robots/Virtual Technology will dominate industries and will coexist with humans at the workplace. Technology in sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, retailing will gain more prominence and will become the central agenda of the boardroom.
As a HR professional, I can perceive a lot of opportunities emerging for us because of this calamity. It is now upon us as how we use this to help our organizations shape the new approach of working. However, it will be unfair on my side to claim that these are the only potential areas where organizations will see renovation. These are just a few areas, which in my limited wisdom, I can envisage. At the end of the day, I am one of the blind, trying to feel the elephant with my imagination and understanding. There are many more like me in the room who will interpret/imagine the elephant in their own way and share their outlook.
However, one thing for sure is clear: the current crisis is humongous and so will be its learnings.