Is It “Business As Usual” In 2021?
2020 will forever be known as “the year that changed everything.” A tiny, invisible entity was a force for an upheaval that completely transformed how we live, think, work. Ironically, we find ourselves in the same spot a whole year later.
Or do we, really?
If you’ve been on social media lately, you must have seen the “In the rush to return to normal, consider what parts of normal are worth returning to” meme.
This is more than just a pithy phrase; it is a matter that demands consideration. We are undoubtedly on the cusp of an opportunity to appraise everything honestly and shed that which no longer serves us: if we choose to see it that way.
At this time, we must reset and reboot instead of blindly attempting to recreate whatever was the norm BC (before Covid!)
Against this background, is the meaning of “Business As Usual” the same as it was pre-pandemic?
While there are still remnants of the original structure and practices, there is much that is different.
In the paper “A World after COVID‐19: Business as Usual, or Building Bolder and Better?” authors Walter Erdelen and Jacques Richardson highlight the challenges we humans will face in a post-pandemic scenario.
They also propose solutions that include less vacuuming of resources, better stewardship of the environment, and an emphasis on sustainable production and conscious consumption.
We are recommending that many businesses today follow an outside-in approach- make their clients a focus and operate with all external conditions accounted for. While it is human, and natural, to hope for the best outcomes, it also helps when we prepare for what isn’t expected. So, BAU as a concept needs a bit of a rethink, and we need to align ourselves to conduct business in the face of unusual circumstances, delivering what we promised while also leading our people with empathy and kindness.
- Better collaboration across disciplines and geographies
- Renewed intensity in certain work-streams
- Diverting resources according to contingencies
- Recognising human energy itself as a finite resource that needs frequent renewal
- A shift in work cultures to accommodate physical distancing
- Deeper social understanding and acknowledging the emotional toll of work stress
- Smarter use of technology and embracing, accelerating digital transformation
BAU in the present and future must be liberally peppered with all these ingredients of a more aware way of doing things, right from aligning the company mission keeping in mind how a company will be viewed and appraised by people in a post-pandemic world.
- An emphasis on sustainable practices and support for local vendors
- Crafting your brand message to reflect more evolved sensibilities
- Caring for employee wellbeing and mental health
- Inclusive company culture and fair hiring practices
While most of these practices are common regardless of the size and age of the company, established companies may have an easier time of it, not least by means of having the revenue to see them through. Start-ups may lack the wherewithal, but in this case, their small size may give them the advantage to change course rapidly to ride the tide that is 2021.