Every year brings its share of blessings, challenges, opportunities, and learnings. 2020 has been a crucial year in bringing lifelong lessons in all respects. From the corner office to the shop floor, 2020 has been an exceptionally tough, black-swan-event year. With a turbulent first half and a recuperating rest of the year, we are looking forward to 2021 to inch us closer to realizing our dreams and aspirations.
Vaccine on the radar, the world grappled with 63M+ COVID-19 cases since the beginning of 2020 - which are still on the rise in most parts. Many lost lives, livelihoods, and businesses which has left people in limbo for a speck of hope for the future. As we count our blessings and look forward to embracing the lessons COVID-19 taught us, we realize the importance of acting right and on time in an ever-fragile ecosystem.
In this article, I want to share some best practices of how organizations are putting their best foot forward to maximize employee and client outcomes.
Learnings and opportunities to leverage in the new normal
This year has been a roller coaster. While doing business during the pandemic has been difficult, some of the changes that took place have forced organizations to be more adaptable and resilient. In this respect, five learnings I think have come to the fore during this year are focus on openness to change, technology adoption, mental health, responsible freedom, and quality. Another critical learning in 2020 is maintaining relationships and making them our number one priority. An agile culture is flexible to understand the nuances of maintaining healthy relationships during a crisis. Starting here, my top five learnings this year have been:
- Fixed vs. growth mindset: An open mindset is a growth mindset. An open mindset is rooted in the belief that our basic qualities are cultivated through our efforts. On the other hand, a fixed mindset that assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static and can not change in any meaningful way. 2020 has assured most of us moved from a fixed to an open mindset. We can change. We are flexible – that is how nature created us.
- Coding the future: The world survived through the pandemic because of technology. Around the world, digital technology and cloud computing came to the rescue not just in facilitating work from home for employees but even to keep the market going. There is more clarity now that leading-edge innovation is the new alpha and omega, and we take this experience to change and improve how we run our businesses.
- Mind over matter: Bereavement, isolation, uncertainty, scare - all hit a new high with the peak of COVID-19. Mental health became more important. Free counseling, grievance redressal, and just making sure that everything is ‘ok’ became a priority for many. Mental health has integrated itself as an integral part of almost every organization’s cultural tenets during the pandemic. The changes this has brought to the fore are only pleasant.
- Freedom with responsibility: Independence and responsibility are not two separate entities, but freedom is responsibility. The ability to work freely comes with a greater sense of ownership. And we are seeing this uptick trend where organizations have started realizing the value that its people attach to freedom. Creating a framework that defines independence, though administered, is essential nowadays.
- Culture of quality: Not so long ago, disruption had a negative connotation. Gartner says a single disruption in an organization causes an average culture of quality to drop 9%. 2020 will be called a whirlwind in this case. Despite being a tumultuous year, quality standards dropped less than expected due to resilience and a stringent check operationally playing on war footing to mitigate pandemic led risks.
Five opportunities we can experience in 2021
As we revisit ideas and business plans, rediscovering new ways of improving upon them features sharply this time of the year. The boom in digitization in 2020 points to opportunities we can experience in 2021. My top five includes:
- Technology-led enablement: A top theme in 2020, technology is seen as an enabler instead of a threat. What changes in 2021? We move from digital adoption to digital collaboration. We have heard it time and again, collaboration is the key to success. How organizations, teams and Governments collaborate digitally to master changing scenarios will define who wins.
- Collaborative survival: With various pro bono partnerships and community service, organizations will plan to alleviate risks to the fraternity. We are determined to cement relationships with associations, brands, media, and non-profit agencies to bring in the desired impact in the community.
- Values matter: The testing times of COVID-19 brought one thing to the fore - Values. With 70% of the workforce operating from their homes, organizations have adhered to the tenets that matter – courage, humility, and cooperation. In a nation like India that is built on the soil of traditional values, having aligned organizational values will be the redefining factor to come out stronger in 2021.
- Embracing the gig economy: What you cannot change, you accept. Work flexibility has become a norm in 2020. The challenge will be how fast companies embrace it in 2021. With this evolving trend of contractual or project-based work, organizations are working on restructuring policies to accommodate the millennial workforce. It will be key to note how this plays out with respect to productivity.
- In-house crisis management: The onset of COVID-19 made corporations appreciate the need for having a crisis management system in-house. An in-house team that understands the building blocks of the organization will facilitate better planning for potential business risks. Having such a structure will create a robust internal defense mechanism in the ongoing volatile environment.
Though the uncertainty of business bouncing back to pre-corona levels is still unknown, organizations are learning to progress, sustain, and recur in such circumstances. It is self-evident that we are at a boiling point, and the coming year will be equally unpredictable. However, it is safe to say that nations will work towards self-sufficiency as a key takeaway. And likewise, organizations will keep accelerating towards the people prime mindset.
Views are personal.