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Disruption, Cultural Shifts and Hidden Opportunities

“Successful leaders are those who are prepared to answer the door when opportunity knocks” – JSP

2019 saw a marked increase in companies allowing their personnel to opt for working at home. Now in 2020, with the COVID-19 Pandemic making social distancing the norm in society, working remotely is the only safe way to go for many businesses.

There’s something to be said about working remotely; it’s nothing new in fact, it has its advantages. Some studies have found an increase in employee productivity, a decrease in operational costs, and in many cases, a lower rate of employee turnover.

Disruptions and Cultural Shifts Birth Countless Opportunities

In light of current events and the opportunities new technologies afford us, many organizations are revisiting the advantages of working remotely. I do not believe this to be a passing trend. Staying ahead of the curve requires intuitive forward-thinking. Are we seeing a shift in how we may be doing business in the future? Is this shift in thinking the next wave of innovative additions or is there a significant disruption on the horizon.

Why do some companies who survive disruptions remain viable and competitive for generations. In contrast, others become disruptors, rise to the top only to fade away, failing to recognize and capitalize on the next major cultural shift?

A Kodak Moment

Kodak is a case in point; in 1975, Kodak introduces the prototype of the first fully digital camera. By 1990, in Japan, Fuji is selling its new digital camera, the Fuji x DS-1P. How did innovative photographic giant Kodak not recognize the emerging wave of digital technology, and miss the merging of cameras and mobile phones, as well as the potential for sharing pictures online?

Fuji, seeing the market shifting, continued to expand by investing in other opportunities, such as graphic art supplies and cosmetics, offering more than a dozen skincare products. I believe by diversifying, Fuji, recognizing and surviving both disruptions and economic downturns, keeps thriving while Kodak, once the king of the hill, never saw “the big picture” and folded in 2012.

Kodak may not have made lifelong learning a priority; they may have lacked a protocol for identifying and adapting to rapid changes, and failing to keep current, they were unprepared to capitalize on global trends.

Lessons From COVID-19

Ulrik Juul Christensen writes, “Around the globe, the COVID-19 outbreak is changing the way people work and learn on a massive scale. To reduce the risk of contagion and keep people healthy, organizations are reducing in-person interactions in favor of greater use of virtual platforms. Over the weeks and months ahead, these “experiments” will likely yield lessons with a longer-term impact.

In the case of remote work, companies will see if and how productivity and efficiency can be maintained when large numbers of employees work offsite. Measures and outcomes, such as deadlines and production schedules, work quality, and customer satisfaction, will need to be tracked and evaluated.” (1)

Companies that stand the test of time have the experience to know where, when, and how to change with the times. Longevity provides the advantage of seeing many beginnings and endings, experienced leadership values the wisdom inherent in that type of education.

The Digital Age and Teams Working Remotely

“The technology you use impresses no one. The experience you create with it is everything.” – Sean Gerety

As noted earlier working remotely is nothing new, and neither are webinars, Go-to meetings, and other forms of virtual conferencing. We have the technology and a host of other resources on hand to accomplish a major shift in how we do business. The idea of working remotely isn’t a one size fits all, I believe the options are many and the benefits speak for itself.

Technology and Social Interactions

Since the onset of the Coronavirus and the implementing social distancing people have been connecting via social media and video conferencing as never before. Company personnel have been maintaining communications and connecting on a level not seen before. In many cases coworkers have gotten to know each other better remotely than they have when they were sharing office space. Matt Mullenweg says, “Technology is best when it brings people together.”

Remodeling Training Programs

Again, webinars are nothing new, and Universities offering distant learning degree programs have been around for years. The technology being used for all types of training have already been tested with interviews, and collaborative efforts involving multiple organizations. We are only limited by our imagination and creativity.

“What new technology does is create new opportunities to do a job that customers want done.” – Tim O’Reilly

(1)Ulrik Juul Christensen a Forbes contributor *See also “Managing an Organization With Multiple Locations”

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