The pandemic of 2020 has cast a long shadow across the world. While many lives have been lost, millions of people have also filed for unemployment in America alone. Collectively, we’re all very anxious. Individuals have to worry about their immediate provisions and long-term prospects. But employers also have to address concerns about how to continue operating and maintaining profits.
Furthermore, businesses must accomplish this without being completely self-centered. They need to find ways in which to serve the community to build good relationships with customers moving forward.
We don’t know precisely how things will shake out over time. But by observing the changes in human interactions and taking these into account, you can make the right adjustments. Here are some ideas to explore:
Our interactions have been changing
The pandemic has enforced lockdown measures in many areas. Social distancing, wearing face masks in public areas, and frequent hand washing are widely encouraged. But the element of touch is firmly entwined with basic human interactions. We can no longer hug, kiss, or shake hands with the same degree of freedom. Group gatherings are likewise bound to meet with social disapproval.
This simple loss of personal contact already removes some of the nuance and context from our communications. Yet upon closer look, one could say that our society was heading down that road even before the emergence of COVID-19. Social media and mobile phones have significantly altered our habits.
It wasn’t uncommon to see people swiping at their phones instead of engaging in conversation around the dinner table. Younger generations frequently interacted with others, both people they knew in real life and total strangers, through online channels.
If you’ve become adept at navigating these interactions, then a world of increased physical separation might not come as a huge shock. It will be easier for you to adjust to working from home, whether as an employee collaborating with others or a manager facilitating meetings.
Learn to fine-tune your communication style for the internet. Some nonverbal cues can be lost, even during a video call. Much of this context can go completely missing when you chat or send an email. This adjustment will prove helpful, regardless of how long it takes us to get back to regular face-to-face interactions.
Turning to automation for help
In a world where we’ve become almost painfully conscious of physical distancing, some businesses will be forced to make tough decisions. Not every job can be accomplished through remote working arrangements. Those in the hospitality and leisure industries might face job cuts or increased risk of infection.
Automation can emerge as a solution for many employers. Recent years have seen technology continue to evolve in this field. Processes such as laser cutting can be carried out almost entirely by machines. This makes them cost-effective and increasingly preferable to customers, as human intervention is kept to a minimum.
Knowing what jobs can be replaced by automation will prove helpful to a lot of businesses. When you can fulfill a human’s function using robots, you reduce the collective risk to your workforce and can maintain productivity despite lockdown measures.
Although individuals might feel concerned about losing their jobs to automation, being aware of this trend will also allow employers to respond and take the necessary actions. Keep in mind that some jobs simply require too much human insight or creative input to be fully automated. You can then develop the skills required to steer your career in that direction.
Maximizing the human factor
As viewed through the lens of human behavior, it becomes clear that society was already in the process of making several changes before the pandemic struck. Social media and online communications were already mainstream. Many employees had been lobbying for flexible work arrangements and telecommuting. Developments in AI were allowing more tasks to become automated.
Our lives were arguably shifting in the direction of increased online interactions and social separation. The global threat of communicable diseases simply accelerated the existing trends. And we can take heart in the fact that people have never ceased to value the human factor.
For instance, despite the widespread availability of chatbots, there are situations where people still want to talk to a human being. We need someone who can listen to us, grasp our concerns, and express empathy. Being able to provide this sort of exceptional customer service takes skill. It can create opportunities for workers. It will distinguish brands in an era where consumers demand a human connection.
Keep that human essence at the core of your efforts to survive on any level. It will carry you through these uncertain times and whatever challenges lie beyond.