A new reality
The coronavirus pandemic has sent shock waves across the globe. With restrictions easing, many of us are beginning to look to the future and considering how to succeed in a post-Covid world. As we discover a new normal, we face significant life-changing impacts as individuals, businesses and communities in terms of how we live and work.
It’s important to recognise that things are unlikely to return exactly as they were before the coronavirus outbreak. In the short to medium term, as the Covid-19 threat still exists, there will be changes to the ways in which we go about our daily lives. These impacts range from how we buy food and access healthcare, through to how we earn a living and educate our children.
Many have lost their jobs, while others have been furloughed in the hope that they will some day be able to return to work. While the self-employed and those who work in the gig economy might be more familiar with uncertainty and insecurity, there is no doubt we are facing unprecedented times. Collectively, we are being forced to think creatively about how we can respond, adapt, and thrive in a post-Covid world.
Tough times have historically driven creativity and innovation resulting in business success, in the face of past recessions for example. The same is likely to be seen in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. In a recent Forbes article, Joey Bergstein, CEO of Seventh Generation pointed out how when operating within constraints, creativity actually goes up because you are forced to innovate within certain boundaries.
How can we respond, adapt and thrive in a post-Covid world? Whether you are self-employed, a salaried or gig economy worker, there are key skills we will need to develop if we are to succeed.
Agility has become a necessary skill in our increasingly VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, and Ambiguous) world. In a post-Covid environment, agility is needed more than ever. The ability to respond and adapt to challenges and opportunities is vital against a backdrop of volatility and uncertainty. Even once economies are back on their feet in the ‘new normal’, the challenges we face in tackling climate change and the management of rapidly depleting natural resources will also require agile thinking and actions.
As we have witnessed, we all need to adapt to new ways of working and transformed work environments. Businesses will need to change the way they operate in line with government guidelines to protect public health by implementing new hygiene, social distancing and other measures. These are new challenges that we have not been faced with before, at least not on such a global scale.
The gig economy and new business models will explode as companies seek ways in which to become more agile and attempt to reduce the burden of human resources responsibilities. At first, this might seem like an injustice but with an agile mindset, we can see how we can use this to our advantage. Greater opportunities and protections for gig economy workers may emerge, the rise of purpose and values driven worker co-operatives and social enterprises that nurture people and societies rather than corporate shareholders will rise in popularity and relevance.
The ability to think creatively has long been a sought-after skill but is even more important in a post-Covid world. The ability to think outside the box to overcome challenges is essential if we are to thrive into the future. Consider the lockdown periods experienced around the world. Millions of people globally managed to successfully interact with schools and universities, doctors and other health practitioners due to the rapid adaptation of online technologies. Creative thinking skills were necessary to quickly overcome challenges and opportunities to ensure continued access for users.
Global conferences that ordinarily involved thousands of people travelling to a destination to attend talks and workshops, were rapidly transferred to online platforms achieving unprecedented success. Previously they would expect a thousand attendees at a conference, but in online mode, they attracted thousands more from around the world. Switching to online mode boosted the reach of the conferences, enriched the experience for all and significantly boosted conference revenue previously at risk.
While these are simple examples of creativity, they demonstrate the impacts and benefits of a creative thinking mindset. Rather than believing something is impossible or too hard, creative thinkers find ways around an obstacle. This kind of creativity will be greatly valued in a post-Covid world.
Businesses that thrive in a post-Covid world will need to be innovative. Businesses across all sectors will be looking for people who can create, drive and implement innovation. Coming up with innovative ways in which to carve out niches and meet changing demands will be crucial. In addition to agility and creativity, our innovation will be where we meet the challenges of what’s to come.
A post-Covid world will require us to be inventive, to use innovation to solve sometimes quite complex problems. It will also require us to be innovative in how we can improve systems, processes and lead transformational change in respect to technology, IOT and AI.
Innovators will also be needed to devise solutions to many emerging challenges we face in business, society and at an individual level. We can no longer rely only on what’s worked in the past but must allow for a massive shift in our thinking. We will need to be brave and bold with innovation, doing what we might have previously thought impossible. In a post-Covid world, anything is possible.
Many have struggled to respond to increased demands on their digital skills. Those who had previously managed to avoid upgrading their digital skills or using technology altogether, have been forced to accept that we live in a digital world. Even those who consider themselves tech savvy have faced challenges. As the pandemic hit and many were forced to work from home, there was a sudden need to use unfamiliar software or online platforms to communicate. Adapting to these new communication technologies has been an essential part of service delivery, and working effectively as part of virtual teams. In the days of confinement, using digital communication technologies was also the only way to maintain valuable social networks.
The gap between digital skills needs and digital skills training availability as become clear. While the majority have coped relatively well during this period, some have struggled affecting their work performance and personal lives too.
This has highlighted the need for our digital skills development, the need for which is set to increase in a post-Covid world. Gaining digital skills in the use of computers, smartphone technologies and IOT to deliver products, services and to facilitate communication will be a priority us all.
It’s clear that we will all need to foster our agility, creativity, innovation and digital skills to be successful in a post-Covid world. While some of these skills might come naturally to some, others might need training, coaching and mentoring to develop and grow them to a sufficient level of competency. Most important is recognising the skills gap and taking the necessary steps to close the gap and nurture those skills throughout one’s career.T