We are constantly being talked about “going back to normal” or “new normal”. But an international study wanted to be a little more pessimistic. They propose a stage under the name of “Never Normal”. In the face of the economic crisis that has been generated as a result of the coronavirus and the quarantines to prevent its spread, the international strategy consultancy Accenture, suggests that the new scenario should have changes, but it is likely that it will never be under normal conditions as we are used to.
A new Accenture report talks about the strategy that businesses must prepare for their reopening, in a new scenario that will be characterized by fundamental changes in economic activity, cultural norms, social values and people’s behaviors.
In this context, they propose a reopening plan to build that new reality. As Rosario Castro, executive director of strategy & consulting at Accenture explained, “Business leaders need detailed plans for their companies to function again if not fully, at least partially. Reopening is not a return to normality. If not a detailed reinvention program that captures all the changes of this new stage that in Accenture we call “Never Normal” “.
“This stage will not only present fundamental changes in economic activity, but also rapid changes in cultural norms, social values and people’s behavior. Those who understand these changes and can capture them in their value proposition for both clients and workers will be the ones who succeed, “he added.
What is the “Never Normal” scenario?
The report establishes which industries will have the most difficulty in resuming their business and for which it will be easier. As Rosario Castro explained, “the hotel industry is the most complicated in that sense, since it must have a total restructuring of its way of operating, with a strong focus on delivering measures to strengthen people’s safety. Retail also faces a difficult scenario, with regard to, for example, the reopening of shopping centers. In this sense, the promotion of digital channels is more important than ever ”.
The expert added that “with respect to the industries that have the easiest way to resume business, there is the Financial Industry, whose services are essential, so there was practically no brake on their operations, and that of professional services, due to that this industry has a high component of work that can be done online. ”
Step by step in “Never Normal” mode
The study identifies 5 key steps that can help on the road to reopening after the pandemic crisis passes:
- Putting people first: “Caring for people should be the most important thing. Knowing what really happens in the lives of employees is essential.”
- Design suitable workspaces: It contemplates “delivering a safe and inclusive work environment. Businesses must create a safe work environment that gives people confidence to return to the workplace and to adapt to the new virtual / physical hybrid form of work. Employee well-being and mental health is a priority. “
- Solve in phases: “The reopening is just the beginning. Companies should plan a phased return that responds to unforeseen events and potential setbacks. Companies should see this not as a time to return to ‘normal’, but as an opportunity to rethink, redesign and improve future operations, “notes the study.
- Commit to an elastic cost structure: They aim to “create the fuel for growth. Having ensured short-term liquidity, companies will have to focus on long-term financial health. And business stability. That means moving from initiatives that point to a rapid reduction in costs to creating a resilient mindset of cost management, and balance sheet protection to long-term investment. “
- Prepare for the future: “Create a change of mentality towards one with greater agility. The secret to the long-term success of the reopening lies in the creation of new capacities. Purpose, empathy and agility must be at the center of new opportunities,” they say. .
Scenarios and risks
Furthermore, the study identifies 4 potential crisis scenarios:
- Cyclical outbreaks: Infections are controlled, but they spread to new hot spots and re-emerge in old ones. Patience wears out with social distancing, opening social fissures.
- Quick referral: The disease is contained and life returns to normal quickly. Government measures work quickly to stabilize the economy.
- Prolonged chaos: The effects to control the virus seem useless. Governments and societies are tense to the point of breaking up. The economy is limited to necessities only and inflation skyrockets.
- Flattened curve: The infection rate is reduced, but does not go into remission. The economy contracts almost permanently. Society doubles, but does not break, uniting to support government measures.
And they end, detailing that “each of these scenarios has its potential risks”:
- Quick referral: A restart too quickly leads to catastrophic success. Neglect of clients and employees due to social distancing and other restrictions / tests.
- Flattened curve: Competitors who respond faster to the crisis take away market share from traditional companies.
- Cyclical outbreaks: Disruption in the supply chain, along with a chaos in management. Unprecedented volatility of supply and demand; inability to plan inventories and scheduling of labor; deep discouragement of employees and customers; chaos in business planning.
- Prolonged chaos: The fall in income and profits lead to the contraction of debt and the collapse of business. Lack of income and high costs hinder investment in reopening; openness efforts distract from the long-term planning necessary for a long-term financial / business crisis; Entire categories / industries continue to collapse and are unlikely to return to business in their former form; the cost of workers’ mental health slows employee engagement.