Imagine someone had said in January that life would change and the majority of us would be home working. Parents would be home schooling their children and small businesses would be moving to online selling.

You would have looked at them quizzically and maybe have wondered what planet they had come from. Fast forward 6 months and this is now the norm.

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So, what has changed?

Firstly, the human race is an adaptable species. It got us out of the caves and into houses. It made us hunters and farmers and developed tools to make life and work easier.

We also like routines and familiarisation; just ask any parent with a small child about the value of a routine! These traits not only help us move forward but also anchor us in the past.

In the space of one month, COVID-19 turned our routines on their heads. Therefore the need to adapt and quickly took over.

The “we cannot do that” and “that won’t work” conversations turned into “how we can make this work” and “what do we need to do”.

This meant that in order to succeed and meet the needs of the future, change became paramount.

Let’s look at change for employees

Many were used to commuting and planning their work and home life. Diaries were full of commitments and plans were carefully synchronised. Most home workers had the space to themselves so created an environment that was conducive to effective working.

Personally, I like to have total silence, others may have had the radio on in the background. Remember when Wi-Fi and broadband speeds were adequate?

Lockdown comes along and like the commuters, these tried and tested routines were up in the air. Now the kitchen table or office is shared with partners and children, adapting to their own changes and needs. The Wi-Fi and broadband speeds become a No #1 concern after the umpteenth time your video call had frozen.

So, what did you do? 

Boost the Wi-Fi, call the broadband provider to increase speeds, create routines for all the household, shared roles and responsibilities?

Whatever you did you were looking at fixing the issue that was affecting you at that point in time. The future state maybe wasn’t even a consideration. If it was, it was given less priority than the immediate need.

So, what changed?

Mainly the requirement to deal with the current situation. Debating and considering a series of long drawn out options simply wasn’t going fix the issue.

Whilst financial considerations may have played a part, it was not a make or break decision factor.

Likewise, your routines which were sacrosanct prior to COVID-19 had to be reviewed and adapted.  I would say this was done based on what was needed at the time. Following this, review and adaption as further changes were required.

For employers, they were forced to either close their businesses at short notice, furlough employees or enable them to work from home.

Others looked at different ways of servicing their customers. Pubs and restaurants moved to a takeaway service, businesses to consumers and customers moved online.

Looking back on 2020, many will say it was a tough year. But many may also take pride in the way they adapted to the change. For some people, this change was coming at them on a daily basis.

It was this focus on a series of clear and specific objectives that kept them focussed. Issues and risks were considered but acted upon quickly, not debated over and over again without any outcomes.

The “we cannot do this” was again replaced with a “how can we make this work?”

To Conclude

I started this blog by asking has COVID-19 altered the way we view change.

My conclusion is that it has.

The previous fear of change and how it may disrupt known routines has been replaced by a more ‘can do’ attitude. This is where issues and concerns are considered but are not seen as absolute blockers to get things done.

I am not saying that good planning and risk and financial management do not play a part anymore. They do and when managed well, they add real value. These are my observations – do you have a different view?

Learn More about Change

We have written about Change and Change Management for our blog before. Here are our top change blogs:

How People React to Change and How To Manage It

Making Change Stick – Communication and Employee Engagement

Top Tips: Managing Change

Change Management and Managing Change: Dealing with Challenging Behaviours