Forming Responses to Change – COVID 19 Chronicles


History and mankind will never forget that fateful day – March 11, 2020, when the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) officially reached a pandemic status, which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), means the “worldwide spread of a new disease.”  

We have often heard of how death is a great leveller. Similarly, COVID 19 has emerged as a great leveller and equalizer. No one has been spared – all of us are running scared. Amongst the list of infected – ordinary people leading ordinary lives, to sportspersons, politicians, Prime Minister of UK, Boris Johnson, to various Hollywood celebrities & eminent sportspersons. Regardless of economic status, nationality, gender, and race – people across nations these people have been impacted.

As COVID 19 stalks the world, looking for its next victim, nations, states, leaders, organizations and mankind is scrambling to find ways to cope, contain and resist. Old rulebooks and norms are being thrown out of the window and newer, faster, direct ways to combat this epidemic are being evolved. There is no standard playbook yet – everyone is watching someone else and taking their cues from patterns and tactics that seem to have had an impact. Never before has mankind – collectively – been this helpless, powerless and united in a fight against an unseen enemy. And although there are mammoth, unceasing efforts to fight this killer virus, our efforts are only reactionary and precautionary in nature. We are either preventing it’s spread, or containing it or isolating those infected. While it is true that many countries are trying to come out with a vaccine, there is no solution in sight yet. 

It’s been a tough few months the world as we stumble from experiment to experiment to navigate a new normal amid the coronavirus pandemic. From a personal standpoint, all of us are practising social distancing by staying inside our homes, cancelling plans, and avoiding crowded spaces. On the Professional front, most of us are working from home with an indefinite timeline of when we will resume work from our respective offices. If you are working in eCommerce, you are definitely experiencing interruptions to your day-to-day operations due to supply chain issues, changes in demand, and retail closures, to name just a few of the many challenges businesses are currently facing.

In a short span of time, there has been a sea-change in not only the personal but also the professional lives of every individual on the planet. One single Virus has rendered us helpless – we have had to change lifestyles, adapt to newer norms to stay productive while working from home and also to learn to cope with confinement. Whether on a professional or personal front, all of us are coping with change and responding with varying degrees of success. For business organizations, the bulk of the work requires focusing on centres on establishing business continuity and human resource policies for coronavirus. For others that serve the public, the focus should be public safety, policy, and clear, thorough communications.

These days it is a demanding situation with uncertainty about the lockdowns. It is a situation where all professionals have to work from home or their workplaces and stay as efficient, or more – as ever. For those used to a formal, structured working environment, the sudden shift to more familiar & homely surroundings can be unsettling. Though every working professional is responding to work demands and struggling to cope.

As the COVID 19 shows no signs of letting up, economies and businesses across the world race to cope. Social distancing and Work from Home are no longer just something one reads about – these are the grim realities that are upon us. And we are practising them. But, as they say in show business – the show must go on. Those who need to step up to the plate, work hard, and deliver results, must. And it is in this scenario that sticking to a work schedule, functioning smoothly and coordinating work-flow becomes a different ballgame altogether. Professionals across the world are coming to terms with the newer, grimmer realities.  

The enormous challenge presented to the business, organizations and the world, actually -by the cruel COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown orders is unprecedented: the economy has to be put back on its feet, livelihoods have to be restored – all this while managing a very real risk to human life. Going back to work is going to be very tough and fraught with uncertainty – it will involve countless unknowns, but leading companies will need to advance where they can, retreat as soon as they must, and adapt as needed. Flexibility in approach, coordination, and agility in responses will be the core keys to responding in an ongoing COVID 19 scenario that shows no signs of letting up. 

And as the scenario unfolds – it is not over yet, not by a long shot – let us decide how we are going to respond. Have we learnt the hard lessons taught by tragedy and reality? Or Will we go back to our hyper-active modes of life once this pandemic subsides? Will we continue to churn out mass-produced products and drive consumption patterns, producing communications campaigns to convince gullible consumers to buy, consume and waste more? Will we again resume globe-trotting, resuming our “top slot” in the evolutionary ladder? Are we going to remain bound by narrow walls of faith and creed? Are we going to persist with the same, old economic models and professional lives? Because our collective records show that we are not open to change – we will persist in returning to our old lifestyles. How we respond as individuals and organizations will decide our collective futures.