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Quarantine or Much needed Time Out

The coronavirus epidemic has shocked us all. It has changed the way we work, the way we play, the way we interact, the way we shop, and the way we think. Once this is over – and it will be over, we will never be the same. Based on a survey done by GFK a large number of consumers have shopped on line for the first time, and about 20% will now become online consumers.

But this is not what this is about – nobody can tell exactly how covid19 will influence the economy – surely we realized we need large safety stocks of medical materials, surely we realized that not all production can be in one place thousands of miles away, and of course we all realized that we can work from home, and that the internet is part of our life, and in cases like an epidemic it’s the ONLY way for us to keep our loved ones safe.

So, we will see the rise of apps, wearables, and all kinds of solutions for the next outbreak. The next epidemic will find us more organized, as our economies have suffered a huge shock which came to worsen the already challenged markets. Our Global economy had already started to go into recession in Quarter 4 2019. So maybe covid19 pushed it further into recession, or maybe it will give it an alibi to transform industry, retail, distribution, logistics and the way we do business more generally.

Working with my team from home – and I have to be honest that unlike other people I did not find it difficult to stay in and keep myself occupied – I realized it can be done easily. So, what is the implication for the future, what is the conclusion regarding renting large office spaces? Could we work from home and meet once or twice a week in an office space that is rented by the hour?

However, I realized something else. As with all companies, we reduced the bar on sales. This meant the team had what I like to call a Time out (very much like a basketball game where the coach asks for a time out to speak to the team when things are not going well in order to regroup and reorganize). During this time, I saw my team excel – the lack of pressure on sales gave us all time to do some very necessary business housekeeping. We reviewed prices, we reviewed procedures, we planned the next 6 months. In addition, we also organized our files, developed excel sheets we had always discussed but never got around to, we made presentations for potential business opportunities. We have never been so creative and so focused on strategy as we are during this Time Out. Our zoom meetings are more focused and away from all office distractions, more effective.

I also noticed that even teams that used to have a challenging relationship (Sales – Marketing/Sales – Customer Service) are working better together and the fact that we have more focused communication means there is much less room for misunderstandings and lack of clarity. Strangely I have even found that the quality of communication has improved both verbally but also in emails.

So, what is the conclusion? Why can’t we do this without covid19? Why can we never set time aside to think…is the speed and impatience of business on quarterly results stopping us from thinking? Are we working and chasing numbers continuously and never having time to fix our companies? Should we assign 1 month a year with lower sales and use this month as out Think Tank month?

Let’s think about it… now that we have time

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