I’m in no way, shape, or form a futurist. I will also admit that I’m not entirely sure what that means. Can I predict the future? Can I read minds? No, I can not — but I can and will be able to share my predictions for the remainder of 2020. What will digital work feel like after a cure for COVID is found, after the unemployment rates decrease, and after the racial work is complete?
Prediction No. 1: There is no AFTER
If anything can be learned from this, it’s that “Business as Usual” is incredibly fragile. The racial equality work, the same work some thought was achieved by the passage of Brown vs. Board of Education, the Voting Rights Act, and the Fair Housing Act, were only stepping stones — laws that improved the surface level. I can only hope that George Floyd’s death (and the subsequent marches and protests) will lead to the next step forward. However, we can’t fool ourselves that we’ll be done. Watch “How Can We Win” by Kimberly Jones to learn more.
There will not be an “after all of this” – because this is the hard work we need to do to make systemic change. There will be another COVID. We will face another dip in employment. And we will face another moment when we need to review our perspectives on race and systems that reinforce inequity. We will not be done with this work, and we can’t pretend that we will be — even if it’s disruptive.
Prediction No. 2: Normal will not be ‘normal’
No organization can pretend that we will be back to normal.
This is one of those moments where organizations can certainly hope to achieve BAU, but it’s aspirational at best. No organization can afford to be “surprised” again by the need to create a distributed workforce. As building leases come up, every single organization is asking themselves these questions: “Do we need to have such a large footprint? Can we figure out a way to reduce our space?” Organizations that made it through COVID can’t afford to not invest in the eventuality that this may all happen again. And they certainly can’t afford to not invest in being prepared. As a result, “normal” will have to change.
Prediction No. 3: Digital Transformation will be a requirement, not a nice-to-have
As ‘Corporate Normal’ changes, no employee can expect a return to normal. It’ll start with the 6 feet-apart mandate, required masks, and temperature readings (thanks to COVID), but then it’ll morph into long-term changes. Improved infrastructure to support remote work and additional BCP (Business Continuity planning) to prevent future work stoppages will drive key technology decisions.
Digital Transformation is what some Orgs will call it. But you’ll likely experience it by learning new technologies rapidly. The success of the Transformation efforts will be critical to the overall Organizations redefinition of BAU. Unlike before, fighting these perceived “essential” changes will be frowned upon. Zeds will not be tolerated.
Prediction No. 4: We will be ok
Business will not go anywhere. New business categories will emerge. Technology solutions will continue to evolve, but, in the end, it will all be ok. As long as you are ok with change and understand that change is the one constant in business – you’ll be ok.