We’re on issue 6 of our weekly curated list of must-read content relating to innovation at work. As you know, news on the COVID-19 pandemic is inescapable – a quick refresh of your social media timeline or any news site will return article upon article (and meme upon meme) on this topic.
So for this week, we’ve put together a list of 10 newsworthy and insightful articles curated from different publications that cover the COVID-19 pandemic, business, and innovation. It’s times like these where businesses are forced to make quick decisions and adjustments (such as remote work on a massive scale), otherwise, they’ll be left behind.
As some of the articles below discuss, change and chaos are, in fact, friends of innovation. Now is the time for business leaders to step up and find new solutions to new problems by being as innovative and as forward-thinking as possible.
This week’s issue includes articles on how COVID-19 is rewriting the future of business, a new app that’s been developed that can tell if you’ve crossed paths with someone who’s infected, Bill Gates’ answers to questions posed by the public on the pandemic, doubling down on innovation during a crisis, remote work, and Slack’s new feature rollout.
You can read the summaries below or click on the link for the full article!
As the number of COVID-19 cases continues to rise, business leaders across the globe are facing some pretty unprecedented challenges. From a decrease in sales and stalling supply chains right through to ensuring employees stay healthy while still being productive, this pandemic will certainly change the future of business. Harvard Business School professors have weighed in on how COVID-19 will change up the game. Some of their responses include:
- COVID-19 will force organizations to develop trust-based cultures with employees, and senior management needs to get as much quality information as it can about barriers to execution.
- Forward-thinking leaders can operate better organizations by helping customers be more helpful by explaining to them how their partnership will have a positive impact on everyone involved.
- Remote work will become strategic.
- Leaders will become more transparent and engage people in working together to find solutions.
- Standard operating practice will be taken to a new level after the emergency is behind us.
- Supply chain managers will have a much more difficult job.
- The best leaders will be the ones who improve workplace culture.
- Employees and buildings will become healthier
- Employees will start taking stock of their new work priorities.
What does COVID-19 actually mean for the future of work? What impact will it have? Sure, it’s already changed our everyday personal and professional lives, with many companies across the globe telling their employees to work remotely. But will COVID-19 be a wake-up call regarding the effects of an increasingly globalized world? And now that people are encouraged – if not forced – to work from home or remotely, the question must be begged: Why hasn’t working from home or remotely been all that common in recent years? So, is this shift to remote work going to stay? Despite all this uncertainty, one thing is for sure: The future of work will be quite different from the present of work.
An app called Private Kit: Safe Paths, developed by people at MIT and Harvard and software engineers from leading companies, could possibly help reduce the spread of COVID-19. How? The app tracks where you have been and who you’ve crossed paths with and then shares this data with other users. Regarding privacy concerns, the app shares encrypted location data between phones in the network and ensures that this information does not pass through a central authority. If a person using the app tests positive for the virus, they can decide if they want to share their location data with health officials, who’d then make the information public. The idea behind the app is to track and close off and disinfect certain locations instead of having blanket shutdowns. The app, despite its ingenuity, can only make a difference if enough people use it.
You may have seen it already, but Bill Gates’ 2015 TED talk actually forewarned us about a pandemic of this type. Around the same time, he also penned an article for the New England Journal of Medicine on the lessons we should have learned from the Ebola outbreak in west Africa. Gates has, in recent days, gone on Reddit to answer questions about the COVID-19 pandemic, government response, and what we should all do to navigate these tumultuous and uncertain times. Some of the questions he’s answered include:
- Can the 18-month estimate for a vaccine be shortened?
- What about a timeline for effective treatment?
- Can you help with ventilator production?
- What do you think of efforts to slow the spread?
- How should we determine which businesses should stay open?
Gates provides insightful information to all questions posed to him and his Foundation is presently working with groups who are involved in diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines. In an attempt to better prepare for the future, Gates believes we have the right technology to scale up drugs and vaccines quickly, but only if the right investments are made.
Research indicates that managers, in general, have a tendency to view a lack of resources and restrictions as the main obstacles to innovation. But, when chaos reigns – as it seemingly is now – forced experimentation can, in fact, bring about positive change. When we’re comfortable and complacent, we don’t always do enough to innovate. It’s the uncertainty that pushes us to seek solutions and develop workarounds. With COVID-19, a lot of economic damage has been done already. But there is an opportunity to learn, grow, and innovate during tough times. For example, these genius innovations would never have happened if chaos had not ensued:
- Facebook’s Safety Check feature that users use to mark themselves as safe so that their Facebook friends know that they’re okay. This feature’s first major use happened in the aftermath of Nepal’s earthquake in 2015.
- An increase in virtual communication. Google’s hub in Dublin asked the majority of its 8000 employees to work remotely to see if the company could function with a ghost HQ. In this midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Google and Microsoft are offering free access to their enterprise conferencing tools.
- A demand for digital doctors. When pandemic hits and people are forced to stay in quarantine, seeking medical advice online is the right thing to do. JD Health, an eCommerce platform for pharmaceutical products, now has 2 million monthly consultations due to COVID-19.
Other articles you might be interested in:
What will the COVID-19 pandemic mean for innovation leaders? Could it mean hyper collaboration? Will leaders find new ways to utilize people’s time and skills, especially for employees who are at risk of becoming (or are already) unemployed because of the pandemic? What kinds of virtual technologies will evolve in the next few months?
Businesses have been forced to perform in new and even radical ways in a very short space of time. How can businesses keep up with all these radical and rapid changes? Leaders will do well to remember that change is a “friend of innovation” and now is the time to find solutions to new problems, become more agile, and adopt new habits.
Downturns are “prime territory for disruption”, so cutting back on innovation until a “better time” will do more harm than good for businesses. The companies that tend to thrive during chaotic times are the ones that offer more value for less, so, in the near future, we’re likely to see numerous new and smarter low-cost alternatives that will leverage new technology and business models to disrupt various sectors of the market.
The world is currently facing the biggest socioeconomic and cultural experiment ever: Virtual working implemented at mass scale. Will businesses now start adopting a “virtual first” policy? To what extent can business life continue uninterrupted? What will be the new normal in the months and years to come?
Slack is the place for remote work and it’s currently remodeling its interface. New features will include a “compose” button to write a message anywhere on the platform, and users will be able to customize channels, messages, and apps into collapsible compartments of their toolbar. Slack is also currently offering free upgrades to paid plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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