Millions of people are out of work. Restaurants and shops are shuttered… some permanently. Manufacturing production is largely halted, and the US economy comes to a screeching stop. “Essential” services are available and medical and service workers continue to perform their jobs, but things are anything but normal even for those who remain at work.
The global pandemic has impacted nearly every aspect of daily life and it feels like uncertainty is all we can expect for the time being.
Change is a normal part of daily life – adjusting to varying conditions and forces in and out of our control. But the current climate of not knowing is something none of us has ever faced before.
We take certainty for granted. Our society assumes that things will continue to go pretty much the way they have. We’re used to operating within a standard set of boundaries, and we are just beginning to understand what happens when those boundaries which define “business as usual” go away on a global basis.
We understand that things can happen to disrupt daily life, but there is always somebody or something there that remains… something there to prop up the impacted. You think about global relief efforts where people from all over the world gather to help those in need wherever that need occurs. What happens when the need becomes global? That’s where we are now.
Never in my lifetime did I believe we would see the northern and southern borders of the US closed to regular travel. I wouldn’t have believed that we would see all travel to other countries restricted in some manner, not to mention the locking down of cities, districts, counties and townships worldwide. Essential businesses and their employees continue to operate in increasingly difficult conditions, and hoarders are pillaging the available supply of goods, making things unnecessarily difficult on everyone.
It is kind of like a bad horror movie with all the stuff to freak you out…
- Global pandemic.
- Researchers working feverishly toward a treatment or cure.
- Borders closed and travel restricted.
- Shortages in medical and other supplies.
- Field hospitals being setup and morgues being overloaded.
- Gun and ammo sales skyrocket along with unemployment.
- Limits on goods available due to hoarding.
- National Guard deployed to cities.
- Politicians trying to appear sincere while they take advantage of the situation.
- Fake news and fear mongering.
The real kicker is that we don’t know when it will end. Maybe things will be better tomorrow… or in a few weeks, which is more likely. But still things won’t be as they were before. Not for a long time.
But there are a few things we have learned already. One of them is that we need to better-prepare businesses to operate with some agility… to be able to find ways to continue doing business even when the workforce isn’t able to go to the office. There are always some jobs that must be done on-site, like grocery, restaurant, factory or warehouse work. But there are also typically administrative and support staff that don’t necessarily need to be present in the building in order to be productive.
Supporting the work-from-home or anytime/anywhere access models aren’t just luxury items any longer. It isn’t just a matter of offering options to make the job more attractive. Having a means to continue the operation and allowing workers to do their jobs while away from the office has become a business imperative. Schools are forced into distance learning models, and physicians have instituted virtual doctor visits.
Via remote is the way most things are getting done right now.
And it isn’t really just about having that option to work from anywhere or keeping social distancing in mind. Consider also the resilience of the IT infrastructure. With travel restricted and people operating under stay-at-home orders, getting on-site IT repair or replacement service may not be an option. On-premises systems are completely dependent on the facilities and if something goes wrong there may not be a way to address it.
There are a great many reasons why moving your systems off-premises and into a cloud hosting situation is a good idea. Creating predictability in IT costs is a big one. Increasing the fault-tolerance of the systems is also important, as is improving performance while not over-purchasing for possible future needs.
But right now, today, it is all about having the access your workers need while building a level of agility in the system to meet changing requirements. And I think we can all agree that things are changing, so adapting your business IT strategy to address change is no longer an option. That is one thing that is certain and it is our new normal.