COVID-19 – Opportunity for Innovation

by Deb GiL, CID, IIDA, WELL AP, LEED AP ID+C and Rochelle Maresh, CID, LEED AP

Regarding our ability to affect change, Steve Jobs said, “The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

While current events are causing significant challenges, they are also providing many opportunities for how we reimagine work and life. At this moment, we have the opportunity to rethink how we work and connect, to reevaluate work/life balance, to catch-up with tasks that have been pushed aside, and/or to spend more time getting closer to loved ones. For others, it is a time to discover what they are most passionate about. This could include identifying where there is a gap or need, revisiting a business strategy or creating a new startup business. By seeing a need during the last recession, these startups are now common household names: Uber, Airbnb, Slack, Pinterest, WhatsApp Inc, Square, and Venmo.

Times of crises are opportunities for innovation and the creation of value for our organizations, as we navigate these uncertain times. Innovation is derived by two approaches: through “push” where innovation is driven by research and new technology, or by “pull” where innovation is brought forward through market opportunities. In both approaches, knowledge sharing and the exchange of ideas is essential. Research has confirmed when two or three people share ideas, innovation is ignited. During this time of uncertainty, we must solve new challenges, rapidly iterate, and pilot new ideas together.

These current events will affect us, but we can also thoughtfully decide how we respond, adapt, and change. Challenges of remote work, social distancing, isolation, and family responsibilities are influencing us all differently. Soon, we will look back and be inspired by how we responded creatively and how innovation was unleashed by this time of uncertainty. We will also look back at this time and know that the actions we took and the changes we made enriched our lives and impacted those around us.

Imagine it. Iterate it. Refine it.

This is the beginning of “Inspired Design,” a thought leadership series that will explore how the rapid evolution of the workplace is changing through the lens of employee engagement and experience, and how innovation is inspired by organizations’ culture, brand, and strategy.