Already feeling ready to get back to the office? Probably not. And if you are, don't get too comfortable. Businesses around the world are realizing their vulnerability operating out of a physical location. For many industries, a virtual workforce isn't an option, but even some of those are looking at ways to evolve the way they operate in a rapidly changing situation.
For traditional office work environments, this is a wake-up call. There won’t be any going back to ‘normal’. Most business are finding that they’re unprepared for keeping even minimal operations going without their teams in the office and many individuals are finding that they are just as dependent on this paradigm to support their families.
So what happens next? There will be a ‘next’ and an opportunity for those business and individuals who take advantage of it. The current model puts too much risk on where employees work and how they interact with each other. So much for decades of ‘disaster recovery’ planning. Very few of those plans accounted for a global crisis and every one that I’ve seen ends with things going back to the way they were.
From an employer’s perspective, it’s time to not just get used to the idea of having a distributed workforce, but to embrace it aggressively. The more flexible your operating model is, the more easily you will be able to not just survive, but to thrive in challenging situations. Companies have done it and they’re continuing to operate with minimal disruption, even now. It will take planning, creativity, and most of all openness to new ideas, but now we can see what not doing that looks like.
From an employee’s perspective, it’s about job security. Many are already starting to look at the options out there for a more flexibly working model. The remote workforce is going to grow exponentially over the next months and years and individuals move into roles that allow them more options and greater security during business disruption. Your star performers are already considering their options.
Let’s come out of this challenging time with a new mindset. Take a hard look at how you do business today and what that will need to look like tomorrow. Be bold. Try new things. Be open. One thing is certain, the survival of your organization is at stake.