As the summer comes to a close with the call of September and school and work bearing down on us, the reality that the effects of COVID-19 continue to linger on is indisputable. Businesses, workplaces, schools, and universities, are all searching to find ways to balance risk with service levels. The novelty of working remotely is wearing thin for many employees and their employers. Businesses have struggled to adjust to the new economic realities and some have thrived. None of us knows what the next several months will hold, except for the fact that that there is uncertainty caused by this unprecedented pandemic.
As leaders, it’s easy to focus on what has been difficult during these past five months. Lack of sales, loss of income, disruption of the supply chain, unengaged workers, and increased competition, are a few of the areas of concern to the business owners we are talking with. Many leaders have been challenged with managing people, cashflow, and clients remotely, all the while balancing family pressures, home schooling, and technical matters. Yet, despite these trying issues, can we look at COVID-19 as a blessing?
According to the Webster Dictionary, a blessing is defined something “conducive to happiness or welfare.”
For some industries that have benefited from increased sales as a result of COVID-19, the pandemic has been a blessing. They have increased their sales and some have had record months. For other organizations, the pandemic created the recognition that there was a need for greater efficiencies to ensure sustainability. We encountered many leaders who used the lockdown to reimagine the business model of the organization they managed and as a result have prepared themselves for a brighter future. All these changes will result in the increased long-term welfare of the business in the true meaning of the word.
If we look at a blessing being “conducive to happiness” one might ask if COVID-19 has had any play in this matter. Recently an IPSOS poll investigating the mental health of Canadians found that 66 per cent of women and 51 per cent of men claim their mental health has been negatively affected by COVID-19. However, that may be changing. A survey of Britons found that while happiness levels had dropped significantly in March and April amid the lockdown, happiness levels by the end of May had rebounded to near pre-pandemic levels. In addition, according to the YouGov data survey, the number of unemployed men who said they were stressed dropped from 47 per cent to 30 per cent while the level of these unemployed who felt inspired rose from just four per cent to 15 per cent.
For some people the increased autonomy of working at home has led to more happiness. For leaders, changes to their organization forced by lockdown has resulted in changes that they would not have been able to make without the COVID-19 excuse. Some leaders are quite happy with those changes.
While divorce may be on the rise in some areas as a result of long-term confinement of spouses, these divorces may in some cases be a blessing in themselves especially for those marriages that should never have been.
In other family cases, the confinement has led to increased communication, greater time spent mending and building relationships, and increased family time and reliance without outside influences. 2020 has become the year of family vacations and camping. In many cases while this may have been stress filled, the long-term outcome for many families is positive. I have heard many people say that this was the most time they have spent with their kids in years.
COVID-19 has changed us all and our businesses in many ways. Some of these changes are going to have long term impacts. However, when we consider effects of COVID-19 through a positive rather than negative lens, we see that there have been many opportunities for optimism and change that have indeed been the source of blessings.
Dave Fuller, MBA is an award-winning professional business coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Email comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.