In this time of mass social distancing, with more than 225,000,000 Americans ordered to stay at home, CEOs are beginning to ask not only how to survive the COVID-19 pandemic, but what they will be surviving into. Radical events bring radical change, and the U.S. workplace quite possibly is in the midst of its most significant disruptive and potentially transformative experience in a century. So, how can a business position itself for a post-pandemic world?
While nobody can predict the future, you can plan around unpredictability by keeping nimble, identifying new economic opportunities, and recognizing the changes happening to the economy, the country, and the world, according to Liz Elting--founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, New York--who shepherded her company TransPerfect from a dorm-room startup into a billion-dollar enterprise through both 9/11 and the 2008 financial meltdown.
* The past is in the past. "We have to keep moving forward. I don't think this has completely sunk in for a lot of people, but there is no 'back to normal.' Whatever the world looks like on the other side of this, it's not going to look like it did in January.
"Social distancing is in the process of reinventing how people work, blurring the lines between on and off the clock, while typically undervalued roles--such as supermarket clerks and restaurant workers--have quickly been revealed as essential infrastructure. Everything from the relationship between employer and employee to supply and distribution is going to have to change to account for the new realities we suddenly face."
* Embrace flexibility. "Being dynamic beats being efficient. The last 50 years have seen the development of the 'just-in-time' economy, where highly efficient supply lines keep products moving at lightning speed with minimal variances, but the problem with efficiency is that it is dependent on conditions remaining the same, which, given enough time, the world rarely does; efficient machines are almost by definition unable to accommodate a changing market.
"Right now, all of our efficiency engines have ground to a halt and, rather than focusing on getting them up and running, we must instead work on building new, more-dynamic business models that can move quickly when conditions change. We need to keep our businesses humming as best we can, even in these uncertain times when...