Updated: Sep 30, 2021
Preparing for the New Normal
A Surprising Conference
I recently attended the Technology Services Industry Association (TSIA), Technology & Services World (TSW) virtual conference, and it sparked many thoughts and ideas for me. I have attended several conferences over the years, as an attendee and host. They are one of my favorite aspects of what I do for a living. For me they provide the ability to network with people in my industry, gain new knowledge, and the great ones energize and inspire me. I can quickly tell when I have attended one of those because it leads me to action; to improve or change how I work, the decisions I make, or spark a new thought process.
This conference was very different from any I’ve attended before; it was remote due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, and the focus of it was how businesses are managing through the crisis in the various tech sectors and business units. To be honest I was not that excited to attend because I am feeling the pressure and stress of the new reality, we all have, and did not think I was in the right head space to get a lot from it. There would be less opportunity for social interaction, no cocktails, and no travel to a fun new destination. But I am so happy I did not let those thoughts deter me, I left energized, thinking differently and ready to take action.
There is No Back to Normal: My Key Takeaways
My key takeaway from the conference was that there is no going back to “normal”, we are discovering a new normal. Think of the attacks on the World Trade Centers, after that crisis things eventually went back to a more normal state, but it was a new normal. To name a couple, air travel now has carry-on restrictions and added security measures, and entry into many big or corporate buildings requires navigating a variety of barriers. This crisis too will be a catalyst for a major transformation. The new economy we emerge into will be increasingly digital and virtual. Off the top of my head I can already think of a few examples that I think will change going forward:
Corporate Travel: Take for instance the number of companies that canceled all their travel and conduct all this business activity virtually. If these activities are still carried out successfully during this time going forward organizations will certainly re-examine those expensive trips as it would translate to massive budget savings. I believe going forward we will see less corporate travel now that it has been proven that activities like sales, training, project meetings can be conducted just as effectively remotely.
Working Remotely: For those of you working from home, think about how different your video conferences have been the last few months; it’s not uncommon now to see lots going on in the background of your colleagues’ homes when typically, it would be pretty sterile. My 22-month-old will often burst in having escaped daddy’s grasp, or deliveries have come to the door causing the dogs to bark when previously I’d be fanatic about my video conferences being held in a silent house, nothing going on in the background. I think going forward we will all be a little more relaxed about these things, and I frankly like the more authentic look at the people I am working with.
Virtual Appointments: There are so many appointments and meetings that could be conducted remotely that just have been slow to adopt the technology to do so. I’m thinking about things like sales meetings, health coaching, and medical appointments to name a few. These types of industries have been forced to adapt and I believe are seeing how easy and beneficial this transition has been. I’ll use a doctors’ appointments for a minor issue as an example; usually you would have to drive to your appointment, wait in the waiting room, wait in the exam room, see the doctor, and then drive home. That process could take up to an hour and a half, now you just go right to the virtual appointment part which could be as little as 10 minutes and not spend a dime on gas. I personally hope this continues to be an option! There will always need to be an in-person component for many of these types of appointments, but regular routine check-ins are easily translated to virtual.
Thriving in the New Normal
My thoughts then move to thinking about how organizations can come out of this and be ready to thrive in this new normal. There is no doubt that difficult decisions will need to be made in the short term, at the TSW conference they shared results from a recent survey where:
85% of respondents are projecting booking decline
69% of respondents will be cutting operational expenses
27% of respondents will be reducing headcount
But more importantly they talked about the companies that were successful during previous crisis’s and they had three things in common with their actions: they acted early, took a long-term perspective when making decisions and focused on growth not just cost cutting. So as an organization when making these difficult decisions it is important to lean into the new reality and make choices that foster innovation to be ready for the new reality that will emerge from this. Certainly, related to learning, we are seeing companies who relied on in person training and are seeking advice on what to do now. How do they change quickly to the new normal to enable their business to continue virtually - we are all learning!
How do You Transition to the New Normal?
What about YOU? I want you and the companies you work for to think about these things too. Are you taking quick action? How can you take a long-term approach to the decisions you are making today? How can you keep the lights on and still focus on growth? Is learning and adoption of your solution part of this plan, and do you need to innovate or build online / digital learning programs now?
How do we all come out the other side of this with our lights on and ready to rebound into this new economy we will build together?
At LearnExperts we've had to act quickly, like many companies, to decrease costs and conserve cash. But while doing that, we've also ramped up investments in key areas of our business to keep focused on what we need in place once business resumes in full. Our customers are asking how do we transition quicker to online versions of our training programs, as we can't travel for face to face instruction anymore but the need is still urgently there and we aren't sure how to do it all virtually.
With businesses changing to increasingly virtual and digital models, I believe we are well positioned to help companies achieve this and be successful with it.
While I certainly do not have all the answers on exactly what the new normal will be, one thing I know is what LearnExperts is best at that I believe will be necessary in the new normal. We create amazing, modern, digital learning programs that have the flexibility of being delivered in a variety of modalities: Self-paced eLearning, Virtual Instructor-led, or Onsite Instructor-led. Of course, if you need any help with this - we are here for you!
Continue to watch for our next post in this series that provides guidance on how to take your learning and adoption strategy into the virtual, digital space and how to innovate for this new normal. Many companies don't know that they actually have most of the building blocks, they just need help to pull it together to make effective online learning programs.
Director, Center of Excellence