As we approach our second consecutive holiday season under the threat of COVID, I can’t help but reflect on how much has changed during these unprecedented times. Changes to our industries, our work environments, and our personal and professional lives came all at once, with little advance warning.
It reminds me of what happens during a natural disaster, but with one huge difference. No matter how disruptive a hurricane or earthquake might be, it has a defined beginning and end. After it’s over and we determine the damage, we know things will get back to normal once we make the necessary repairs.
But COVID remains open-ended. In the early days, I thought we would be back to business as usual in no more than 120 days. But it soon became clear that it would persist, and in fact, take on global dimensions.
Suddenly, we had a bundle of new challenges to deal with: the safety of our employees; the continuity of the food service and healthcare industries that were given supply chain disruptions and a labor shortage; and the ability to serve our customers with the same focus despite a 100% remote team.
There was no playbook we could use to deal with the pandemic. So, the first question I asked myself was: what exactly is this emergency situation? And second, what can we do to innovate our business model and use digital technologies to survive and thrive in a crisis environment?