• July 15th, 2020

Weekly takeaway with Lawrence Kamwi - Reflecting on controls, restrictions, and adaptations(1)

Finance minister Iipumbu Shiimi’s theme for Budget Day 2020, “together defeating Covid-19, together thriving again”, resonates beyond Namibia’s borders. 
It is a call, indeed, a prayer that informs and shapes the entire world as it charts new directions following a public health emergency. 
 The current health situation has led to a loss of normality in daily life. 
The resulting uncertainty and unpredictability will have long-term effects on work, mental and physical wellbeing. 
Politico magazine notes that, “a global novel virus that keeps us contained in our houses is already reorienting our relationship to government, to the outside world, and to each other.”

The pandemic, which has previously shut down or suspended familiar routines, now forces societies to employ all sorts of adaptations in efforts to reopen.

 In order to firmly keep the focus on protecting the health and safety of societies, the work towards a new normal requires best practices for organisational change management. 
 DeAnne Aguirre and Micah Alpern write that, “the costs are high when change efforts go wrong - not only financially but in confusion, lost opportunity, wasted resources, and diminished morale. 
When employees (people) who have endured real upheaval and put in significant extra hours for an initiative that was announced with great fanfare see it simply fizzle out, cynicism sets in.”

Without doubt, no one will stay the same as the world looks forward to entering the period it will call post-Covid-19. 
No community, organisation or country can dodge the required all-embracing change. It is, therefore, likely that communication strategies will determine people’s responses to change.  

As has been the case since the start of the various pandemic containment measures, continuous communication and the honest involvement of communities is required in order to form and retain the trust and confidence that will be needed in the new normal.
While the globe confronts a monstrous health challenge and its far-reaching implications, a central feature of effective responses is the recognition of the role played by front line workers. Aguirre and Alpern note that:

 “The path of rolling out change is increasingly smoother if these people are tapped early for input on issues that will affect their jobs. Frontline people tend to be rich repositories of knowledge about where potential glitches may occur, and how resistance by customers (people) will make implementation of change an ongoing challenge.”
Mark Lawrence Schrad observes that, “those on the frontline are doctors, nurses, pharmacists, teachers, caregivers, store workers, utility workers, and other employees.”

Consulting firm McKinsey has written that the world is “turning from resilience to return,” with unending questions about what the two metre-apart physical distancing means. 
Further, there are ongoing stakeholder conversations on effective adaptations to workplaces, classrooms, restrooms and public transport.  Natalie Johnson of EY writes that, “putting people in front and centre will help businesses (societies) to successfully manage one of the fastest-moving challenges both now and for the future. 
Beyond all other essential measures, the key factor that will put an organisation, community and country in the best shape to handle disruption is its people.” 

I close this instalment with linguistics professor Deborah Tanner who has wondered out loud, whether in the post-Covid-19 times, “it could become second nature to recoil from shaking hands or touching our faces – and we might find that we can’t stop washing our hands and that the comfort of being in the presence of others might be replaced by a greater comfort with absence.”
Change has come. All that remains is to reflect on the costs it will levy on communities.

Staff Reporter
2020-05-29 09:59:08 | 1 months ago

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