As we awaken from the medically induced economic coma of covid, there is an afforded pause of reflection. I consider business triumphs and failures and what experiences may provide tools to navigate a recovery, which is clearly underway.
Thirty years ago, I sought a consistent tempo, moderating cadence and keys. As a night club DJ, it was important to maintain rhythmic flow. Rapid acceleration or deceleration in the dance floor beat would generally result in confusion, and a loss of audience en-masse.
Our economic reset needs to maintain an even tempo on start, which would seem the intent of government. Personally, I am impatient seeking to resume at the beat of Avicii’s – Levels; but it seems all around me things move to the pace of Drakes – Tootsie Slide.
My businesses experienced uniform disruption, but like many we maintained operations. We responded quickly. Fully embraced our technological platforms, expanded to new virtual services, immediately migrated to home-offices and maintained service. We were a ‘phase 0’ company that pivoted to conducting multiple recruitment searches with video conference and maintained delivered training, online, to dozens of people concurrently.
All businesses were forced to respond and adapt to unexpected circumstances, and we continue the adjustment. Restaurateurs working at 30 per cent capacity, and local retailers competing with online behemoths. Nothing is truly normal, and even the function of office environments is under assault.
As June 1st approached, I was more than ready to force staff colocation even if the market was not as quick to embrace this energy. I was moving at 137 beats-per-minute (bpm) and hungry to get back to normal. I surveyed my team, all of whom were working effectively from home. I was prepared to adapt to their suggestions and was contemplating fluid models even a formal move to 4-day a week rolling structure. But their replies caused me pause.
I asked for their brief thoughts on what we came through and how we should position moving forward. We have a young and progressive team and I needed clarity on their focus and even commitment over the current and coming quarters. It was essential intelligence on how to match their personal goals with our corporate objectives.
Their independent but uniform replies were well-considered responses which stalled me in their digestion. The honesty and sincerity were perspectives I was not prepared for, they acknowledged the stable but uncertain health environment we are in, their success in adaptation on continuing to support client requirements remotely, the maintained productivity in separation and benefit of daily Zoom call for interactions.
Coming from a reduced work schedule, they all wanted to return to 100% capacity, were eager to respond to present challenges by considering new models we could consider and were reaffirmed with confidence having succeeded through the last eight weeks. They were ready to reconnect in an office, but more than capable of managing balance remotely. We didn’t need to move a 160 km/hr to achieve our goals, and no one was taking advantage of the separation and independence. They were effective and balanced at a 113 bpm, already moving at the pace of C&C Music Factory – gonna make you sweat.
All business is trying to find a footing and a new rhythm to sway. If the forward focused stock markets are any indication of where we are heading, big business is feeling confident with a recovery to pre-covid levels. Small business is a little less confident but eager to put this pause behind us.
We should not be constrained by fear of uncertainty. We need to break the shackles of government supports, which will only impair us in the near-term – but we do need government to enable an environment of recovery. And we need to listen to our customers and our staff who can help each business to find the ideal tempo to get back on the dance floor.
The economic DJ will gradually get our heart rate up, we may not need to dance to the pace of The Prodigy to be successful, the recovery will be a grind and we will need stamina to endure this next stage. Pace and persistence is the key. Set the beat that is best for your operations and turn up the volume for your staff, customers and society to hear.
Blake Doyle, Business Edge Column
As published in the June 6th edition of the PEI Guardian.