by Rick Yvanovich, Founder and CEO – TRG International

There are few things in the universe more destructive than a black hole. Nothing, not even light, can escape its massive gravitational force.

Likewise, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is arguably the most devastating crisis any of us have ever experienced. And just like a black hole, the pandemic is tearing every fabric of modern society apart. No nation, organization, household and individual can stay away from its massive impacts.

What we have been experiencing during the last one and a half years can only be described as a health crisis, an economic crisis and a social crisis all rolled into one.

Since the very beginning of this compounded crisis, I have been talking about Business-As-UnUsual. It is because what we are living right now is unusual. There exists neither past proven methods nor today’s generally agreed-upon models to cope with the current unthinkable events.

Children have to spend a year or more alone at home, away from their teachers and friends.

Young people learn they are risking their grannies’ lives for partying.

Families refrain from hugging and kissing their loved ones.

Many businesses have to accept that the next wave of tightened social distancing measures may force them to close at any moment.

But above all is an overwhelming sense of uncertainty and ambiguity affecting every single business and individual alike. Every one of us is living the crises uncertain if our life, our livelihood and our loved ones may be affected at any moment.

Naturally, people have been yearning for a “post-Covid” world, where things are back to normal. And that is expected; we human beings are hard-wired to stay safe, to not venture out into the wilderness. But what if there is no such thing as post-Covid normalcy?

No one knows what is on the other side of a black hole, except for Matthew McConaughey, probably. But we know for sure nothing is coming back out.

As such, this pandemic is a treacherous one-way journey. There is no going back to normal. There is not even a new normal, because there is nothing normal about all this. It’s, Business-As-UnUsual.

How long will this business-as-unusual last? While I cannot give a definitive answer to this question, here is what I’m sure of, things will never be the same ever again, and major paradigm shifts are already in motion.

In modern history, you can compare tectonic shifts to those that happened after World War II, that reshaped the world as we know it today.

During and after the war, millions of women entered the workforce, occupying jobs traditionally held by men only. And since then, there has been no looking back, their roles have permanently changed, and thankfully, they’re repeatedly shattering glass ceilings.

Just like most women post-WWII were not thrilled about giving up their newly earned roles, it is easy to imagine many people who have been working from anywhere will also not be so eager to go back to their cubicles.

Even from an employer’s perspective, does it make any sense going back to that business-as-usual normalcy? Do all businesses need physical workplaces, along with their associated costs and nuisances, if they can make do with virtual ones?

What will then be the implications then for industries like airlines and hospitality? Will people travel less for business meetings and events if they can do it online comfortably from their bedrooms?

Is the global supply chain set for a massive reshuffle in the light of disruptions and shortages during the pandemic? And how will it affect the developing economies?

How will the disparity in vaccination among countries impact future economic growths and equality?

Will major metropolitan areas worldwide start shedding population because of remote working and people, in general, avoiding crowded places where viruses can quickly spread?

Business leader, policymaker, or humble entry-level employees, these are a few profound issues that you need to ponder because the business you are in right now, or the career you have been planning for, may not be here when tomorrow comes.

If you are feeling lost right now, you are not alone. Many are. It is hard not to during such a turbulent time.

You’ve heard stories about people getting lost in a forest, going past the same tree repeatedly. It’s neither an urban myth nor a supernatural occurrence.

Being lost is frightening, and when people get frightened, they lose their sense of direction and start walking in a circle. As a result, it’s not uncommon for rescuers to find the victims not very far from a trail or a shelter. If only they had walked straight in the right direction.

That’s what’s lost in an unusual environment is. You are bombarded with a myriad of questions: “What should I do?” or “Where should I go?” Even worse, you question your every move, wondering if that is the right one that takes you out of the woods.

There is nowhere you can turn to for answers. You cannot learn from precedent; whatever is happening right now has never happened before. Of course, you can ask experts, your friends, your colleagues, but their guesses are as good as yours.

So, what should you do?

Stop, don’t panic. Think. And plan. That is the course of action for people who get lost. That should be yours too.

Stay calm, stay put. You are resilient; you are capable of changing and adapting. Think, observe, look around. The world is rebuilding, chaotic, hybrid and unexpected. You cannot resist or reverse it.

It’s Business-As-UnUsual and Work-As-UnUsual.

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Tim Burrill
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