• August 13th, 2020

The Covid-19 ‘new normal’ won’t be business as usual



Jan Coetzee 

Namibia went into lockdown several weeks ago; our government’s firm and swift response has so far kept the number of infections very low. Thankfully, no deaths have been recorded and Namibia may come out of this quite well. Certainly not discounting the damage to the economy or the closure of the schools and social activities that these necessary steps have caused. Eventually, the economy will recover and kids will go back to school but Covid-19 has left an indelible mark on our society and how we live, work and play. 
How we work is what I would like to focus on in this article.

Recently, parts of the economy opened up again, and with strict social-distancing and the wearing of masks, we no longer have to stay away from offices or places of work. Although we can now return to our offices and organisations that pay our salaries, it is not as simple as that. The five-week hiatus from the office has meant that people have managed to find innovative ways of doing their work from home. There was suddenly an array of ‘applications’ available to make working from home possible, efficient and effective. Everyone was ‘Zooming’, collaborating in Microsoft Teams, kids when able, were accessing Google Classrooms and in the evening, Houseparty was used to go for a ‘virtual beer’ with colleagues and friends. This has become the ‘new normal’ and the digital options are endless.  

To be honest, these applications didn’t just appear out of thin air, they had been around for some time, but companies were unwilling, unable or just not set up for remote working. That changed in a heartbeat in the ‘new normal’ that everyone is talking about. But what is the new normal? Is everyone going to the office at the same time normal? Making everyone work within the parameters of certain hours of a day normal? Is renting and servicing very costly office real estate for the employees normal? Well, it all used to be; however, that has all gone out the window – just like handshakes, hugs and crowded spaces.

 Companies and organisations are realising that the ‘digital transformation’ that is going to take place at an incredibly accelerated pace is a good thing. The ‘new normal’ will relinquish some ‘perceived power’ that bosses had over their employees, replacing it with personal responsibility and accountability – less micro-managing. Allowing people to work from home, have flexible work hours and meetings can be conducted online through the various virtual meeting applications. The employees mustn’t just forget to be dressed when on a video-conference when working from home. That is all part of the ‘new normal.’

Organisations might be at different levels of readiness to implement digital transformation into their business; however, employees are ready for the new normal. A sensible strategy would be for organisations to consider their readiness from several perspectives, namely: organisation and people readiness, information and technology readiness, partners and supplier readiness, and process readiness. Another essential aspect to consider, one which will possibly change the world around us forever, is the need for fewer offices and reduced physical footprint. 
People working from home at flexible hours. Flexible workspaces create less need for large and expensive offices and parking facilities. The ‘new normal’ will be anything but normal and Namibia can be part of that change. In fact, it must be part of that change. Whether it is embracing digital transformation, the need for social distancing is creating less need for offices. The ‘new normal’ will create a brand new and, hopefully, healthy world. I for one cannot wait to embrace this holistic transformation that is taking 
place. 

Stay safe Namibia! 

*Jan Coetzee is the Managing Director of Headway Consulting


Staff Reporter
2020-05-19 10:30:19 | 2 months ago

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