How the pandemic reshaped our business connections and the future
The lone bright spot of the pandemic is that it gave us all the opportunity to rethink the way we show up for one another. The first confirmed case of COVID in the United States was January 20, 2020. In just shy of four years, we have all redefined what it means to be connected.
We have created new ways to accommodate the human need for safety, community, and continued learning. Businesses adapted to reduced workforces and increased health protocols while maintaining customer commitments. Collaboration took on a new meaning – we could no longer rely on the “drive-by brainstorm”, and we quickly realized how for granted we took our ability to read non-verbal cues. The pandemic forced us to prioritize innovation. And innovate we did – brick and mortar shops turned to e-commerce, hospitals and clinics turned to remote patient monitoring, logistics turned to automation, and colleague happy hours turned to zoom meetings – complete with the virtual party games!
Will these changes become permanent? If permanent means that these solutions continue to be an option, then the answer is yes. That’s the magic of true innovation – once you do it, it makes it hard to do without. Even though I enjoy being able to walk the aisles of my grocery or big box store, I still take advantage of curbside pick-up. It’s convenient for me, and I’m sure retailers don’t want to lose that business.
This doesn’t mean it will replace our very human need to connect physically. I appreciate the option to do work from anywhere in the world. But I still need to go to the office and whiteboard with my peers. I need them to drop in for unscheduled conversations. In the former scenario, I’m practicing productivity maintenance. In the latter, I am fostering true connection to accelerate progress.
Businesses have proven their ability to meet people where they are. It was not uncommon during the pandemic for an employee to tell their supervisor that they were struggling and to be understood. It was not uncommon for employers to accommodate extended time off, or to cover for sick colleagues. Businesses developed creative ways to deliver groceries, administer mental health services remotely, hire and train new people quickly, and educate our children at home. The pandemic amplified our ability to respond to each others’ needs, and exposed our ability to find compassion in very new ways.
The demands placed on heightened connectivity are here to stay. I’m proud to work for a company that brings access and connectivity to everyone. Pandemic or not, upgrading and enhancing the AT&T network infrastructure prepares everyone to meet their greater possibility from where they are.