A lot of people are busy talking about how the current pandemic and the lockdown will change the way we live and the way we work going forward.
Focusing on the latter, some people suggest that the time of the office hours is dead, and that more people will be working remotely from hereon, because it is so much more efficient.
A word of caution: Don’t use the behaviour during times of great stress to extrapolate what will happen, when things get back to something resembling a normal situation again. People are right now fighting from a distance for their businesses and their next paycheck. That may seem like a lot of efficience but in reality it is just stress with extra stress and in no way something that is sustainable for the longer term.
All leaders thinking the opposite will – by and large and with a few exceptions to cement the rule – in the long term have a hard time recruiting anybody since through their actions they have shown a complete disregard for the human needs that is also part of what enables us as workers to do a great job.
Jeffrey Katzenbergs new mobile streaming service meant for the commute, Quibi, has finally launched. And is getting killed by the reviewers. You can be excused for thinking that the timing couldn’t be worse when no-one is commuting right now, but in general the service seems to be a product looking for a problem, where there is none.
The fate of Quibi might suggest that now is the time for ‘The Great Sanity Check‘; the time where you look hard at what you do and use the opportunity to really ask yourself the hard question: All fanfare forgotten, does what I am trying to build really make any sense at all?
Can you see a path to a real business? Or – perhaps better yet – can you see an accelerated path to becoming a real business utilizing what you now know from the corona outbreak as things to factor into your plan? Can you adjust to life post-corona and come out on top? It is worth spending some serious time thinking about because in all probability it is going to be your reality, whether you want it or not.
After the corona pandemic is behind us (and no one knows how long that is going to take, ed.), I am wondering if we will see the emergence of a new set of unmet customer demands born by the pandemic – and the withering of others, we thought we needed until this new reality hit us all?
The pandemic is a giant reality check on what is truly important on our lives, and what we can live without. Some are already suggesting that society will be changed forever, when we reemerge on the other side. Personally, I am not so sure. But if it is, it will lead to a change in priorities and, with that, spending.
For some startups it will mean staying in a death spiral. For others it will be their big opportunity. Spotting and betting on the right ones will potentially be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for investors, while others will be left to reflect on their losses.
It seems to me that a lot of the people who are starting to advocate economic considerations ahead of health-related ones during this pandemic, are some of the same people who were the least prepared for a sudden halt in economic activity. I don’t blame them for wanting to get back to normal ASAP – we all want that to happen.
However, I still think we need to spend time after this is over on the things, we have learned from this. Maybe we should consider whether some of the business school books should be reviewed and refined. Overly complex supply chains, ‘Just in time’-principles and over-optimization of the daily business operations managing cash on a shoestring suddenly seem like brilliant ideas now than they seemed to be just a month ago, right?
I continue to find it shocking (and then, not really for the above reasons, ed.) that otherwise successful and well-run companies can crumble within a week or two. It seems like a lot of businesses were already in essence on major life support as it were, and if the corona pandemic hadn’t pushed to the very edge of the cliff, it was a matter of time before something else would.
It’s been a couple of weeks now. And while understandably there are a lot of businesses and startups in despair, I also sense some opportunities to look beyond the current corona pandemic and lockdown.
People are easier to get in touch with, because they’re home. Of course many are in video meetings, but it’s still easier. Negotiations become more pragmatic because we’re more left to our own devices. People will tell you ‘Yes’ more because they’re just happy somebody is offering opportunities. And people will give more thoughtful responses to propositions because they have better time to do their own personal due diligence.
I am not in any way, shape or form advocating for more of the same. I am just quietly saying that there is also opportunities in the current climate, if you just look for them and can distance yourself a bit from all the doom and gloom.
As Denmark is in virtually total lockdown it is quite interesting to observe how people and businesses scramble to deal with a totally new situation.
On the business side those that can are ordered to work from home. While many are used to having this form of working as part of their everyday job, for others it will be a new exercise. But equally important this will stress test both software systems and the IT setups of various companies. There is a huge difference between being able to offer the odd VPN connection and then basing the operation of your business around it. Some will notice that they have been asleep at the wheel and not got the right solution in place. Those will suffer the consequences.
Furthermore, on the business side, it is interesting to observe the effect the lockdown has on the gig economy, whether it is blue collar or white collar. While you could always assume that a lockdown would essentially kill the opportunities for blue collar workers, it is fascinating to watch how quick highly sought after white collar consultants loose close to 100% in value and have gigs cancelled on them. What does that say about the value of their offerings? Anyways, we must hope they have put a little aside during good times to cope with the situation.
Finally, on a more personal front it is frightening to observe our lack of adherence to authorities. In these times where SoMe has made everyone an expert on everything (or so it seems), this expertise doesn’t rime at all with the requirements of a real emergency. The ‘me-me-me’ attitude helped along by ‘see me-see me’ platforms such as Instagram doesn’t help much either. We make the mistake of thinking that we can transfer our behaviors from behind a screen out to behavior in real life. Normally, it wouldn’t mean a lot – it would just be stupid or even hurtful. Now, trying that can literally end up killing somebody. Think about that.