There is an old saying that goes, “listen when opportunity knocks”. Today, in the wake of the global pandemic, opportunity isn’t so much knocking as knocking about.
It’s there, but organisations have to go out and find it. The challenges, the changes, the uncertainty – these have all made the COVID-19 pandemic hard to manage for many companies and individuals, but there is optimism within this.
In fact, according to the General Manager of CRS, Ian McAlister, there are lessons that can be learned from the pandemic that will have a positive impact in the long term.
“Necessity is, as the other old saying goes, the mother of all invention,” he says. “We were forced into this situation, organisations were forced to be different and to explore new ways of doing things, and it turned out that many of these changes were far easier than anyone expected. The world just needed a nudge in the right direction.”
While the pandemic is more of a shove than a nudge, the innovation and ingenuity emerging from the crisis are a testament to the fact that the world can adapt when it needs to. Opportunities have emerged from the strangest of places, forcing businesses to adopt new approaches and ways of working in order to take advantage of them.
“In our industry in particular there have been seismic shifts in approach to employee and workforce management,” McAlister continues. “Due to a suddenly distributed workforce, HR platforms and leaders had to adopt new ways of communicating with employees and new technologies. The old noticeboard in the canteen definitely wasn’t going to cut it anymore. As a result, systems and technologies have become essential to ensure richer communications that are collaborative and two-way.”
The first half of the pandemic was defined by the dust. Dust kicked up by feet scrambling to put in place the technology and the systems needed for remote working and rigid lockdown conditions.
These were cobbled together with wishes and legacy technology and were fine for the first few months, but are now in dire need of a revisit so they can deliver sustainable business systems and processes for the long term.
It has become critical for companies to take the lessons learned in the first few months and apply them to processes and methodologies, fine-tuning them to make them into standard practice.
“This is not just a stop gap or an interim patch, not anymore,” says McAlister. “This situation is going to stay for a while and we need solutions that will work for the long term. As we move into the fifth month of lockdown, we need to look at how we can refine systems to get the right results. As the virus is going to be with us for a while, don’t keep cobbling systems together. Instead, invest in solutions that will always get the business the results it wants.”
Currently, many companies find themselves in a push-and-pull situation where they are struggling to decide what needs to become a permanent fixture and what needs to stay as it is.
Overall, the best step is to rather focus on what can pull the business forward, what systems can be leveraged over the long term, and how to use the technologies and systems put in place at speed to deliver results at pace.
“Now is not the time to sit and see what’s going to happen or wait until the storm blows over,” concludes McAlister. “Now is the time to prepare for the impossible, the uncertain scenarios that are coming. Like yet another old cliché – plan for the worst but expect the best. Technology is here to steer us all through the hard times, but you need a solid hand at the tiller and a commitment to using the unexpected to find opportunity and leverage it for growth.”
For more information, go to www.crs.co.za