It seems like much longer than that, obviously. That’s because the pandemic years, at least the first two, seemed like dog years, each of them four or five years rolled into one.
That’s why so many people who were on the fence decided to retire, including a large percentage of the region’s college presidents and a good number of its nurses. Who could blame them? It was a difficult and, in many ways, exhausting time.
But as we’re set to mark the three-year anniversary of the day when everyone packed up their computer and went home (March 24 seems to be the consensus day), we have to say there is certainly some credence to that old saying — the one about how what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
We’ve said that before in regard to the pandemic and its aftermath, but it bears repeating.
First, though, we need to note that this pandemic did kill a lot of businesses in this region, many, if not most of them, in the retail and hospitality fields — businesses that saw people stop coming to their door and simply couldn’t adjust to that changing landscape.
Which brings us back to those that could adopt and did survive. They are better are off for it, and they are now even better able to withstand change, even rapid, profound change that alters how business is done forever. These businesses have learned to communicate better, to find new and often better ways of doing things, to work together to solve real problems.
Over the past three years, we’ve told countless stories about companies and nonprofits and how they battled through COVID. They are all different, but there are many similarities. Mostly, they involve people looking at a very difficult situation and simply getting creative.
They couldn’t do things the way they always did them, so they had to find other ways. They had to dig deep, overcome adversity, and create solutions. That’s what being in crisis mode — which is what colleges, hospitals, and, yes, many other kinds of businesses were in for at least two full years — is all about.
The challenge, and the opportunity, for businesses now is to continue to apply those lessons and maintain that spirit of problem solving and finding new ways of doing things even when the pandemic is essentially over. And from what we’ve observed, there seems to be a good bit of this going on.
Companies are not going back to the way they did things, because that doesn’t make sense anymore — be it with regard to technology, remote work, hours of doing business, recruiting talent from outside the 413 … all of these things and more. Instead, they are shedding that ‘this is how we’ve done it, so this is how we’ll continue to do it’ mentality.
And they are certainly the better for it.
Looking back, this is what the most successful businesses came away with from the pandemic — an understanding of not just how imaginative and resourceful they can be, but of how imaginative and resourceful they must continue to be moving forward.