By Clarissa Amrein
Week 7 of Covid-19 lockdown has dawned here in Switzerland. I feel a certain calmness, everything around me seems to settle down after an initial panic, after experiencing the entire emotional spectrum, after accepting the uncertainty we’re living in. We reached the point of “getting used to it”. Used to the forced slow-down, used to work from home, used to virtually connect with family and friends and used to this novel mode of staycation. Science says it takes a mere of 21 days to form a habit. Despite all the benefits that entails of being able to adjust and adopt to the new normal, I strongly hope that we sustainably maintain our appreciation towards the small and important things in life and also start or even continue to walk the talk after hours of reflection and self-examination.
Yes, we’re undeniably facing challenging times and so many questions are not answered yet. But within the whole bubble of insecurity, we can see a clear outlining: The fact that this crisis has taught us a lot. While the pandemic curve is flattening and fortunately showing a downward trend here in Switzerland, the learning curve is exponentially growing (that’s in fact how I see it). Now it is time to translate these insights and learnings into real actions and value to leave this pandemic period as a stronger and more resilient self (as individuals, professionals, businesses, society, economy, ecosystem).
While the world around us is trying to quantify the economical damage, while politicians are arguing back and forth about the measures and pace of the exit-strategy, while Mr and Mrs Know-It-All throw facts and figures around, I decided for myself to look at the bright side of this crisis and focus on the “ups” rather than the “downs” of Covid-19. As the saying goes “Without rain nothing grows, learn to embrace the storms in your life”, this unexceptional times will unvariably leave its mark in our society and business. But the wet spots of today are possibly the seeds and blossoms of tomorrow.
Push of digital platforms & technologies: I bet you have not spent a single day the last few weeks without relying on digital technologies. They have been here for a while, but now everyone (this is at least my hope) sees and understands the great value it provides. Slack, MS Teams, Asana, Jiira, Skype, Zoom, Mural – you name it… fantastic tools to collaborate, communicate and coordinate remotely. And although I see the value and benefits of personal meetings, I am convinced that now is the time to change habits and to continue to use or get used to the broad digital tool landscape in our daily work. Think twice, if your planned business flight to London is really needed or if a video call might serve the purpose of the meeting. See digital platforms and tools as supportive friends and not as your enemy. They not only increase productivity but also have the potential to replace existing structures and to prepare your business for the digital future. Take courage, stay curious and leave the “we always did it like this” mentality behind. Act responsibly as an entrepreneur (to save money and resources) and also for the sake of our nature.
E-commerce: With the immediate closing of the brick and mortar stores, we see a massive shift from offline to online. Just recently I came across a study in Germany, which showed that 30% of online shoppers during Covid-19 were “rookies”. That’s crazy, isn’t it? At least for me as Millennial and avid online shopper this number was quite surprising. Covid-19 has definitely reduced the hurdles of ordering online and opened the door for new product categories (such as online grocery shopping and others). The shift from offline to online has started much earlier, but Covid-19 has clearly outlined the benefits, opportunities and also the convenience of online shopping. As a consumer, you not only get a wide variety of products at your doorstep, but also a more personalized shopping experience (without long queues at the cashier ;-)). Owning digital distribution channels as a business is no longer a “nice to have”, it’s a no-brainer and the fundament for every promising business model.
Agility: How I love-hate this word. While it perfectly describes how we should act and react in this fast-moving and dynamic environment (or simply put: to an unforeseeable event in our recent case) it’s often thrown out as a buzzword without capturing the real essence of it. However, we’ve seen quite a few businesses stepping out of their “comfort-zones” and reacting quickly to this new situation. Take the education sector as an example: How many years have passed with uncountable discussions and initiatives around digitizing schools? Or Home Office, another great example. Turn back time (no not for centuries, for weeks might be enough): How many times have you heard that you can’t work from home because of data security, because of the lack of technology, because of the importance of personal presence etc. (I’m sure you could add many more reasons). And all of a sudden, big companies and even public authorities are able to turn on the “remote work” button for hundreds or thousands of workers from one day to the other. Quite impressive, isn’t it? Factories are mass-producing facemasks in no time, digital platforms for solidarity and neighborhood assistance are popping up like mushrooms, virtual flat viewing eliminates the challenges of our new normal and software, apps and online tools are being launched after 48-hours-hackathons. I am impressed… but can’t deny that I also have concerns: Are we able to keep up this pace and maintain this unprecedented “Agility Flow” post-Corona? I strongly hope.
As with many things, there is always black and white or sun and rain. It’s in our minds how we act and react and how we respond to external events, adversity and crisis. It lies in our own hands through which lenses we see the world, how we adapt to the new normal, how we translate the negative into the positive, how strong our willingness is to make long-term changes, how hard we are challenging the status quo, how much we invest in our weaknesses in order to build strength and how strong we emerge from the rain to grow from a seed to a strong and resilient flower.