If there is anything I can surely be thankful for during this health crisis, it is that I got to witness how people dealt with the challenges that went with it. Some of them I had the opportunity to talk to frequently and at length (thanks to video calling capabilities!), and some to whom I could only manage a brief hello before offering a smile of thanks because physical distancing kept me from shaking their hands.
Digital technology has enabled us to connect in ways we haven’t known before. Of course, nothing beats being able to communicate with people face-to-face (in-person, not virtual). But suddenly all of us were left with no other choice but to utilize technology for which it was truly intended—to establish better communication and foster deeper connections between ourselves and other people.
When An Imperfect Scenario Can Be A Good Thing
The pandemic has affected everyone in the world one way or another. Some countries may not have suffered as much from the illness as others, but businesses in their areas were affected. This resulted in WFH (work from home) arrangements, reduced work hours, temporary operational shutdown and, worst of all, permanent closure—which added an even greater source of distress on what is already an undeniably worrisome situation especially for the working class that rely solely on fixed incomes.
Businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, are the ones caught in the middle. Most are torn between keeping their loyal employees fully compensated and secured, and keeping the business afloat for the entire duration of the crisis. It is a tight spot to find one’s self in. Hard decisions need to be made. And while we hope no one will be forced to close shop at this time, we also need to face the fact that not everyone will be able to sustain business as though nothing has changed. Because everything has changed. And things will never be the same.
To make situations worse, there are employers who found it difficult to adjust, not because they didn’t want to but because they didn’t quite know how and simply aren’t ready to welcome anything new just yet. What is sad is that there are business owners who saw the pandemic as a perfect excuse to not show up for their employees.
If there is one thing I know in my years in HR, crises have the power to reveal what truly makes up our teams. Facing the people who serve in the company especially during tough times proves you care for them enough to do the toughest work, even when results are not guaranteed. Open and honest communication, done in love, can never go wrong. It shows them you are with them in the fight, that you are leading the pack to thrive, not just survive, despite the odds. When the leader fully and wholeheartedly shows up, the employees do the same. And this is why although the scenario is far from perfect, it can spell great success for those who acknowledge the challenge, find ways to sustain the business with all stakeholders, and rise above the situation at all costs.
Progress Over Perfection Is What Matters
After this pandemic is over, after we’ve started living out our new normal, after all this is but a memory of how time has tested us as individuals, as workers, as business owners, and as citizens of the world, all that’s left is for us to carry on in our journey towards a brighter and better future, armed with the lessons we had to learn (or perhaps even relearn) and apply quickly (albeit hesitantly) as we forged on to a brand new chapter.
- If, as workers, we learned the hard truth that hard work doesn’t always pay off the way we hope or prefer—but then we resolve to work smarter, we begin to equip ourselves with emerging skills, we become eager to share what we know so others can improve upon them for the greater good—then we would have achieved the progress we were hoping for, packaged a little bit differently but nonetheless serving a bigger and more valuable purpose.
- If, as business owners, we accept that no matter how prepared we are, things beyond our control are bound to happen, and that these periods will make us want to throw in the towel and simply walk away; but then realize that we are called for a higher purpose—from finding more efficient and cost-effective ways of utilizing our resources, to communicating openly and honestly with our team on how solutions that will greatly impact them will be rolled-out, to finding the strength and willingness to roll-up our sleeves more so now than ever before as we weather the storm with them—then we would have gained the progress we envisioned at the beginning, where people come first, and people actually feel that they do come first on our list, thus, making them committed to doing whatever it takes to win the battle with us every step of the way.
- If, as individuals, we realized how much we can do even when we’re safely at home, whether for our families or friends or co-workers, and that much of what we can do would require us to keep an open mind, an open heart, and an unceasing willingness to improve upon ourselves and the way we perceive and respond to change, then we would have earned for ourselves our own unique spot in collective global progress, which is really all we can contribute to society before, during, and after any crisis.
There now seems to be a renewed awareness in our relationship with technology and the way we consume content online. Most, if not all, people are more open to learning new ways of doing things and going deeper into the unfamiliar and often juxtaposed work- and home-life scenarios. Those who embraced this sudden and unexpected shift found the door that was there all along, waiting to be widely opened and, the things beyond it, begging to be fully explored.