In unusual times as these, some people might experience feelings of grief. Some grieve the loss of someone they loved: the virus is ruthless as that it takes the most vulnerable among us, our beloved grandmothers and grandfathers. And if you don’t even get the chance to say goodbye, the pain is even greater.
Others grieve a lost way of life; or not lost yet, but with the bleak predictions about our economy and high degrees of uncertainty about pretty much everything, we do tend to internalize predictions to the extent that we consider them real.
Companies all over the world experience some sort of grief when exposed to the apocalyptic discourse of media outlets and pundits predicting the death of capitalism and of entire lines of business (hospitality, for instance).
On grief and the future of businesses after the pandemic
In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross described the now-famous five stages of grief. The model is beautiful as it is simple and it has become extremely popular. These five stages include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
Let’s see how the model might help businesses cope with the current crisis.
This is the first stage, in which nothing makes sense. The world seems extremely chaotic. Unhealthy responses range from total numbness to acting as if the loss never happened.
It’s equally counterproductive to just think that you may lose the company that you have struggled for years to make profitable and to act as it’s “business as usual”. Granted, if you do not adapt, you will perish. It’s true in biology as it is true in business.
But keep in mind that it’s not business as usual and you will need to come up with solutions.
“Why does this happen to me? It’s so unfair.” Yes, it is unfair, but it doesn’t happen to you (or at least not only to you). The whole planet will be affected by the pandemic and its aftermath is unknown for most of us.
However, you can make good decisions now and identify new solutions and opportunities. They are there somewhere, you just have to stay calm and think it through.
Before a loss, bargaining is sometimes making promises to God. After a loss, the “if only” of the “what if” scenarios take the stage. “If only I’d known”.
Yes, some people who had been working in Africa during the Ebola outbreaks, those who were on the front line during the SARS and MERS outbreaks knew how viruses work. But even they could not have predicted that this specific virus will hit us that hard.
So “if only” will not help you very much to take future action; it will just keep you stuck in the past. And nobody can change the past, anyway.
Alter the bargaining phase, our attention moves slowly into the present. But nothing still seems to bring any motivation or energy. Some might try to withdraw from life altogether. “Why go on al all?”, “What’s the point?”.
Still, keep in mind that this is only a stage and the sooner you find the motivation to move on, the better for you and your company.
This stage is often mistaken for the notion of “being alright”. Nothing of the kind. The acceptance phase is all about adaptation to the new reality, to the new “normal”. During the acceptance phase solutions appear and people move on.
In the end
The question that we should all ask ourselves is “What will we accept in the end?”. Will we accept that the old model of business (successful as it may have been) no longer works?
How will our business look like in a post-Covid-19 world? Will we move completely online? Is this even possible?
Perhaps in the training industry, we will see innovations that will take most companies to the next level: VR, AR, holograms? Maybe these will be the new norm. Who knows? Nobody, at this stage.
Read more: 4 Benefits of using VR in training
What we do know, however, is that the world will no longer be the same and we should prepare for it.
Veronica is a multilingual trainer of trainers. She has years of experience working with adult learners, both in Higher Education and in the business sector.