Disasters are bad. We know this. But sometimes, they are an opportunity for change and renewal.
Last week I had a chat with my sons (well, one of them, as the younger one was punching my arm) about the great fire of London, and what it did to that city.
The fire was pretty devastating, destroying about 80% of the city’s buildings. However, after the fire, London was regenerated with new buildings, new regulations and new processes better suited to the modern world. Without the Great Fire, we wouldn’t have St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the city’s greatest landmarks.
In 1940, London was again hit by the disaster of the Blitz. Over 116,000 buildings were damaged beyond repair. In 1944, while the war was still raging, The Greater London Plan was created to start the regeneration of the city and put into place a vision of a brand new, greener London in a revitalised United Kingdom. Many of the towns and areas around London, and the shape of the City itself were designed back during it’s darkest hours.
A 21st Century Disaster
The COVID pandemic has brought with it more dark times, this time for the majority of humanity. It has become an economic and social disaster of huge proportions. ‘Lockdown’ has now become a familiar phrase to so many of us, with our freedoms curtailed to prevent the spread of a deadly virus.
We need to remember though that it could’ve been much worse. For a huge majority of us, work has continued. Thanks to technology innovations from the likes of Microsoft, VMware and Citrix, we have been able to be productive, even from our kitchens, spare bedrooms and home offices.
It’s stark to think that if this pandemic had happened just 25 years ago, in all likelihood we would not have been able to lockdown the economy without huge social unrest. Where would we have been without internet banking, online shopping and the ability to connect with our workplaces?
We need to be thankful for these innovative tech companies. Microsoft has been at the centre of personal computing since the 80s. Citrix has been pushing the message and breaking down the barriers of remote work for over 30 years. VMware has enabled countless businesses to modernise and almost single handedly created the Digital Workspace initiative. Then we have the next wave of innovation coming from the likes of IGEL, which aims to remove barriers to productivity and make tech invisible to people who’s lives are already complicated enough.
Now, in the depth of this latest huge change to envelop us, we need to be planning what the future world is going to look like. We CANNOT simply rebuild what went before. We need to reassess and build the world as it should be, better suited to the new world that has been created by the internet and social media.
This is an opportunity to decide what’s important to us and wider society. To do this, we NEED to focus on one of the most important, underpinning institutions of our society. We need to decide what work is going to look like in the future.
We want our employees to have unfettered access to the tools they need to do the job they love. We need them to have access to these tools from anywhere. Life is distracting enough at the moment, and once we’ve embraced the new way of working, these distractions will be here to stay. To counter this, we need to make sure our people can get access to their tools without distraction, without worrying about the technology they use and without fear of their security being compromised.
COVID is the modern equivalent of the Great Fire of London, bringing devastation to much of what went before, but bringing us a once-in-a-generation chance for renewal. We can build back better.
In short, every business needs to go all in with the tech that makes work easy. Every business needs to be talking to Microsoft, Citrix, VMware and IGEL. Be ready for change.