Coming Back to Work- What We Can Learn From Razors and Laptops.
When it comes to COVID-19, there is A LOT of negative. Jobless claims are historically through the roof, small businesses are struggling to adapt, and the mental health of millions of Americans is under fire. College graduates are missing out on job opportunities, political turmoil is running rampant, and hoarders have taken grocery stores by storm. There is so much uncertainty and stress that it seems like we’ll never again get to enjoy a patio beer or a summer baseball game.
Ok- take a deep breath. Take one more. Yes, it’s easy to dwell on negativity and to feel hopeless. These are normal human emotions and it’s important to work through any feelings of doubt. However, at some point we’ll have to right the ship and return to our normal lives. When that times comes, it is imperative that you’re prepared. Many companies will struggle, while a select few will emerge from this crisis stronger and better prepared to move forward. For those of us focused on the latter, I want to share a few amazing examples of innovation and creativity in times of hardship. This will hopefully serve as a reminder that good things do come out of times of turmoil, and there are reasons to hold out hope for a better tomorrow (and an August baseball game.)
Let’s jump into the Time Machine and set the date to the 1910s. Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Jacob Schick was staking mining claims in Alaska when he came up with the idea of a razor that would not require water or shaving cream. A few years later, in 1921, Colonel Schick invented a razor, modeled after the military repeating rifle, that would eventually transform into the popular Schick electric razors that can be found in millions of American homes. Let’s think about that date and time. World War 1 had just ended and the US was in the throes of a post-war recession. Americans were jobless, economic hardships were impacting families, and the global marketplace looked grim. Sound familiar? While times have certainly changed over the past century, the attitude of Colonel Schick should remain. Despite the uncertainties, he persevered with innovation and ingenuity and created the foundation for a present-day empire. Without a doubt, his preparedness allowed him to overcome the market and general outlook of that time to lay the foundation for his dream.
Buckle up, we’re back in the Machine. The year is 1939. America is at the tail end of the Great Depression, and things aren’t exactly sunshine and rainbows. The economy is contracting, jobless claims are coming off an all-time high, and strikes are impacting millions of workers. Are you sensing a theme yet? Look out the window of our Time Machine. We’re in Palo Alto, California, parked outside a one car garage. Inside, Bill Hewlett and David Packard (yeah, those guys) are working diligently designing electrical equipment. They had just won their first major contract with Walt Disney in 1938 and were at the forefront of creating the now well-known IT and computer titan: HP, Inc. Much like Colonel Schick, Bill and David were trailblazers while the rest of the country was stricken by fear. These men were confident in their mission and were not skewed by the uncertainty of the market. Above all, they were prepared to face any obstacles and were cautiously optimistic about their future.
I could go on and on with examples of similar individuals and companies. Motorola car radios were born in the 30’s. Smashburger and Groupon were started amid the Great Recession. While my point is not to inspire you to start the next great rideshare company during a nationwide shutdown, I do want to focus on the attitude and tangible strategy seen in all these situations. The leaders and innovators of these great companies have something in common- levelheadedness and preparation amidst turmoil and outright fear.
It’s important for organizations to partner together to prepare and plan for the nationwide reopening. Here’s a bit about what we’re up to at RepuCare these days: as an expert in the staffing industry, we are currently assisting State agencies in creating Emergency Staffing Plans that can be used in future disasters or unexpected events. The blueprint we’ve created through our expertise and experience can be replicated across any industry and we can guide your organization in creating a similar plan. We’re also helping large companies with hundreds to thousands of employees return to work by placing RepuCare medical professionals within their facilities to perform temperature checks. This will be a critical safety net as the economy reopens, and it also fosters employee piece of mind. Finally, our HR department is helping clients in a consultative role by guiding company leaders through the various impacts that new legislation has on company processes and employee benefits. These are all vital pieces that companies should implement as employees come back to work, and our team is primed and ready to help your organization flourish in the ‘new normal.’
Much like the post-war recession, the Great Depression, and the Great Recession, the Great Lockdown will too end. The workforce will return, the economy will recover, and we will live in a world of sports again. When that time does come, the best thing we can all do is be prepared, stay innovative, and come back to work clean shaven with an updated computer.