To say we live in a time of change is an understatement.
I thought I would use this article to reflect, from a business perspective, how things have changed over the last few weeks, and continue to do so. It seems like a lifetime ago now, but lockdown only properly began on March 23rd. When we came back from the Christmas break welcoming in the new year of 2020, who would have thought we would be where we are now?
Reflecting on the last few months
A number of things strike me when I think back to the period around lockdown. Firstly, was the pace of change and how quickly businesses had to react. And then it was what we were reacting to? This wasn’t a problem caused by an economic issue like the 2008 financial crisis. This was a global pandemic with tragic health consequences, and businesses had to deal with the Government’s response to attempt to curtail and slow down the devastating effect of Coronavirus. Finally, it was the uncertainty of what we were dealing with. There was no ‘known’; the knock-on consequences, both within and across sectors, because of lockdown I am sure has surprised a lot of people.
Government assistance, when it did become available, has been vital in seeing many businesses through recent weeks. The unwinding of this support in the coming months, its interaction with the lockdown measures that continue, coupled with the combined risk of a second peak, will largely define the economic landscape for the rest of the year and beyond. The initial assistance, to my mind, has very been much about seeing business through lockdown and more will need to be done to stimulate recovery.
Ability to adapt
Underlying this though and partly born out of a resilience that is not always recognised or appreciated, has been businesses’ desire to continue and their ability to adapt and innovate as this crisis rapidly evolved and continues to do so. I know from experience that certain change projects in our business have taken on a new and more urgent priority in recent months (and others, important at the time, took more of a back seat).
We are now seeing a slow transition out of lockdown. Clearly, this is going to take time and there are lots of references to what is euphemistically called the ‘new normal’. I think it will be important to take stock of how we have adapted to this crisis and take the good things with us.
Also, we need to be honest with ourselves and to learn the lessons and be better prepared for similar events in the future.