Over the past few months, organizations around the world have been tasked with redefining their new normal. Companies found themselves at a standstill; events and launches that had been planned for months were suddenly shelved. Plans and projections for the future were scrapped, and uncertainty filled every meeting and phone call. Although we are all still dealing with that same uncertainty, we are also learning how to function within this new normal. COVID-19 changed the way we do business, how we communicate, and taught us the importance of a contingency plan.
At River Global, we’ve found that repurposing our talents and relying on our team was the key to achieving success. Our teams, as well as all of yours, were hired because they fulfilled a need in your organization, COVID-19 didn’t change that, but it did change how they worked. These changes don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon; in fact, it seems probable that the way we once worked is now obsolete. What does that mean exactly? It means organizations need a new formula for success and a new method for problem-solving.
The Unexpected Happened, Here’s What We’ve Learned.
COVID-19 caught us all by surprise. It felt like a horror movie coming to life, only worse because there was no dramatic subplot pushing things along. Working from home became the norm, families were stuck in small quarters for months, and the lines between work life and home life became blurred.
In the beginning, we found ourselves a bit thrown off balance, we strived to maintain a sense of normalcy, clinging on to the possibility of returning to our offices soon, but we quickly realized that wasn’t possible. What we did was take a step back and assess the situation. We found a method that would organize our new remote interactions and help us maintain flexibility.
1. Learn to Articulate Problems:
Early on, we were committed to working from home as if we were still in the office – we did not want to skip a beat. Our efforts to keep things as normal as possible, however, were doing more harm than good. We had to adapt to our new situation. We began by analyzing our new environment on a grander scale, what was working, what needed to be adjusted – processes, workflows, etc. Companies have been met with a new challenge, the challenge of truly understanding the work-life balance. Our team, though they may try to, are not able to give the same amount of attention to work as they could in the office. Children, spotty wifi, pets, spouses, and more are all unknown variables that needed to be added to the equation. The first step to successfully navigating through these times was open communication, critical analysis of the issues, and teamwork. Once team members were able to articulate their issues on both an individual and collective level, we were able to ascertain reasonable solutions.
2. Identify Options:
In-office meetings went to zoom calls. Team building exercises took on a new meaning. In the office, there were set rules, set objectives, and set methods for completing tasks, and that was all thrown out of the window. What came next was, and still is, the exciting part of this! We all have objectives and metrics we were looking to meet, and those goalposts moved, some were removed altogether. Deciding what was possible, what was still adding value, and what could be postponed was crucial to ensure forward movement. Take, for example, an organization that relied heavily on trade shows and in-person presentations to sell their products. With shows being canceled for the foreseeable future, adaptation would be the only option. This could mean webinars, press packages sent to key buyers, or creating virtual trade shows and trade missions. Identifying options allows imaginations to run wild, it brings out the best in your team members and can lead to ingenious solutions.
3. Redefine Roles:
Team members have found themselves fulfilling obligations that definitely fall outside of their purview. New needs have developed, and organizations have had no choice but to rearrange and redefine what needs to get done. Though this can take some adjustment, we’ve found endless talent amongst our team members. Team members are gaining new skills, they are excited to take on a challenge, and the creative ideas that have been proposed are proving so successful, some are now permanent additions to our workflow. You may be wondering how exactly this looks. Say an events team is sidelined because all the events they had planned for the year have been canceled. Perhaps that team is able to adjust a handful of those events to virtual ones, but their workload is still cut in half. Does that mean you need to cut half the team? Or could you find a way to use their skillset to fulfill a new need? The mental health and morale of our team members has always been paramount in our organization, but COVID-19 has presented us with new and pressing issues. An events team could be tasked with creating in-house events to boost company morale. They could work in tandem with HR and figure out how best to support their coworkers. Take a look at your teams, and work with them to see where and if they can use their talents to bolster their cohorts.
4. Have a Back-Up Plan (or 3):
Plan B flew out of the window months ago; plans have changed so often, we’ve lost count. Contingencies are the new normal. Roadblocks don’t cause panic any longer, they just require a shift. We’ve found success in setting goals and understanding that the road there may not look like we planned, but our destination must remain the same. At River Global, we say, “go beyond,” that means going beyond borders and boundaries, real and metaphorical. When planning anything, ensure you have other ways to get the job done. Have Zoom calls set up? Make sure your wifi is up and running. If the wifi goes down, you know how to get a hotspot up and running on your phone. If that fails, you’ve already given out a link to a team member who can cover until you have things figured out. Of course, sometimes things won’t work out in your favor, but making sure you do everything in your power to avoid unnecessary missteps will save you time and effort you could be using elsewhere.
These four tools have helped us in moving forward. We no longer fear the unexpected, we’re ready for it.
As we mentioned before, the well-being of our team members is taking on a different shape now. The office served as a haven to some, and with many of us remaining at home for the foreseeable future, managers have to consider what that means for everyone on their teams. Use these tools to solve interpersonal problems as well. Are your offices opening, what does that look like, and how will you support team members who can’t make it back in? What are the issues your employees face now, and what are the issues they’ll face in the coming months? These questions don’t come with a one size fits all answer— they are highly individual and depend on your team, but the four problem-solving methods we explained above can help you find those solutions.
How We’ve Kept Our Rivers Flowing
We announced our rebranding just a few weeks ago, and we can assure you that doing so during a global pandemic was not in the cards, but we found a way. We quickly learned how necessary adaptation was and how crucial it would be to our continued success. We pride ourselves as extensions of each and every company we work with, so to make sure we continued to serve them properly, we knew it was crucial to get our house in order. Tackling each obstacle with those four tools enabled us to move swiftly and with conviction.
Things are changing every day, and that means plans are always tentative— even if everyone has RSVP’d yes to your invites. Technology has allowed for many things to continue, albeit in a new form, but it’s the dedication and commitment to success that has kept us moving forward. If you feel as though your organization isn’t performing as you’d like, know you are not alone! The worry and uncertainty won’t go away, but if you are able to remove the panic and fear that often joins them, you’ll be able to reach solutions quicker, and each time you do, you’ll be moving your team one step closer to your goals.
COVID-19 has changed the world as we know it and has placed new barriers for us all. Our personal and professional lives were taken for a ride, and now we find ourselves striving for a new kind of work-life balance. At River Global, we believe in your business, and perhaps things will take on a new shape, maybe a new name, but we believe you can thrive!
Our rivers are still flowing. Things may never go back to normal, but no matter where this journey ends, River Global is here, ready to take you and your organization beyond. Hopefully, these tools help you the way they have helped us, and we look forward to seeing all you accomplish!
For now, go beyond can serve as a reminder that behind every roadblock, there is more road to travel and more rivers flowing; it’s not the end, just another blip along the way.