Contact one of our experts

Evolution, Not Reversion: The Upside of COVID-19

As organisations start focusing on transitioning back to a ‘new normal,’ many are considering how they can sustain the benefits gained over the last few months from remote working and the adaptive approaches they have taken. Whilst COVID-19 has created many challenges for individuals and organisations, there have been some surprising upsides too.

The detrimental effects to professions, industries and the social, emotional, physical and financial wellbeing of individuals should not be downplayed. For some businesses and individuals this has been life changing. Yet, we have seen the ways organisations have adapted and individuals have grown at a record pace. Breweries have turned into production facilities for hand-sanitiser, fashion retailers have used their capacity to make face masks, car manufacturers are making face shields for health workers and hospitality businesses are using their facilities to adapt offerings to new delivery methods or products such as take home meals, fresh produce boxes and free meals for homeless and vulnerable people.

Aside from the great strides in entrepreneurialism, there have been other adaptations made that will be significant to the long-term success of many organisations. Some of the organisations we are working with have reported increased levels of adaptability, accountability, focus, and unity. Some of this is a result of the pragmatic changes that have been required, and others have been a shift in mindset.

Being able to shift to new ways of working within weeks, and often days, has demonstrated that adaptability can be achieved quickly and with minimal fuss. What has given organisations the agency to move quickly may be attributed to several things:

  • A clear and compelling sense of purpose
  • A cause that has united organisations, teams and individuals – ‘we are all in this together’
  • A need to put aside things that aren’t at the top of the priority list
  • Remote working that requires greater autonomy and accountability
  • Choice has been limited (some would argue we have too much choice and therefore too many decisions to make on a daily basis)
  • Perceptions of risk have changed (have we been hyper-vigilant rather than just acting on the high probability, high impact issues)

Increased accountability has been a clear upside for both individuals and organisations. Managers need their teams to work more independently, to entrust ownership. and in many cases, delegate responsibilities. The dividend for individuals is increased autonomy and accountability, confidence and pride in their work and a stronger sense of trust in their capability. A large proportion of the managers we have worked with have reported that their teams are:

  • more self-sufficient and self-directed
  • more creative in finding new ways of working
  • feeling a sense of pride in what they have achieved during difficult times
  • using more of their skills and energy on the things that matter
  • more engaged with the workplace and supporting one another

Some of the mind-set shifts we have seen in managers that have supported these adaptations are:

  • disclosing more and sharing responsibility (eg. I can’t do this alone, I need your help, how can we support one another)
  • encouraging and acknowledging creative approaches
  • confidence in their teams to self-manage
  • not sweating the small stuff and paying attention to the most important matters

So, how can your organisation sustain the benefits gained over the last few months and capitalise on the upside of COVID-19? TMS Consulting specialises in supporting leaders and organisations to establish sustainable practices that build positive cultures, engage staff and be more adaptive. For more information, contact the team at solutions@tmsconsulting.com.au or 07 3003 1473.

Sarah Austin
About the author

Sarah Austin

Sarah has been a qualified coach and learning and organisational development advisor to leaders and organisations for over fifteen years, bringing significant expertise to TMS clients. Her knowledge makes her a learning and development professional as well as and a trusted advisor on leadership, performance, change, talent, culture, and OD.