Many companies have been running themselves ragged in trying to come up with and quickly implement a comprehensive plan for adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, given the current uncertainties, this might be one of those rare situations where the smartest thing you can do for your COVID-19 back-to-work plan is taking a deep breath.
Trying to Force the Future
For many hard-charging business people, making decisions and taking action is what they eat, breathe, and sleep. With them, not knowing how things are going to be—and not taking steps to chart their destiny—is a kind of torture.
For this type of individual (and you might be one of them), being in a state of enforced passivity makes them feel like a tiger in a cage. They want to be out running, hunting and doing. Having to be still is uncomfortable, even painful.
If such a person is involved in managing an organization’s COVID-19 response, he or she might try to force the future. This means straining to finalize and implement a back-to-work plan before it’s advisable.
No One Knows What Will Happen
In the current situation, taking a hard, proactive stance about back-to-work plans is simply not feasible—because no one knows what the future holds.
At this point, there are several radically divergent paths the pandemic could take that seem equally likely to occur. The pandemic could go on indefinitely the same way it has for the past several months—or an effective vaccine could become available, quickly making COVID-19 an unhappy memory. (Or things could shake out in some completely different way.)
In this environment, trying to draw up and implement a hard-and-fast back-to-work plan is effectively impossible.
As a result, this is one of those situations where the wisest course might just be to take a chill pill.
Your COVID-19 Back-to-Work Plan: “Sit Tight and Get Right”
A couple of my savviest clients have arrived independently at a strategy which I think would make sense for many organizations. It could be described as the Sit Tight and Get Right strategy. The two parts of the strategy are:
- Sit tight: Whatever your company’s doing now that’s enabling it to get by, consider accepting and continuing with that for the rest of this year. However imperfect it might be, don’t stress out. Avoid feeling like you have to commit to something soon. Don’t let yourself be rushed. Hold off on making expensive changes to your facilities. Accept that for now, we’re waiting on the whole Coronavirus vs. Humanity battle to shake itself out. For the time being, the situation is bigger than we are.
- Get right: In the meantime, you should get busy focusing on the first quarter of next year. Make it your goal to get right for Q1. Plan for what you’re going to do or could do in the likeliest COVID scenarios in the big-three areas of people (e.g., what percentage of people will work at home vs. at the office?), processes (will any of your business processes be different moving forward?), and technology (how will your new work model affect your IT/DR needs?).
The Wisdom of Waiting to See What Happens
Most successful businesspeople don’t do Zen. They are not naturally mellow. And they are not all that great at relaxing. But sometimes there is wisdom in being patient.
This might be a situation where the smartest thing you can do, if you’re involved in devising and implementing your organization’s COVID-19 back-to-work plan, is to take it easy. Wait and see which way the log rolls before you jump, otherwise it might roll on top of you!
Focusing on Q1
Business people are doers by nature and few organizations succeed by sitting on their hands. However, thanks to the COVID pandemic, even the near-term future is wrapped in uncertainty. This makes it impossible to make judicious back-to-work plans for the near term. In this environment, business might do well to consider a “Sit tight and get right” strategy where they maintain their current status quo for the rest of the year and focus their planning efforts on being ready for the first quarter of next year.
For more information on dealing with your COVID-19 back-to-work plan, the COVID-19 pandemic, and other hot topics in BC and IT/disaster recovery, check out these recent posts from BCMMETRICS and MHA Consulting:
- Key Players: The 7 Most Important Roles on Your Return-to-Work Team
- Learning from COVID-19: 7 Lessons for Business from the Pandemic
- Vaccinate Your Business: Devise a Pandemic Plan
- The Future of Compliance: 19 Observations about the Impact of COVID-19
- BCM’s COVID-19 Challenge: Coping with Chronically Degraded Capacity