Imagining a Post-COVID-19 World

It’s probably a bit premature to go there, but imagining what Scrum will look like post COVID-19 seems unlikely to do any harm. So here goes – a little glimpse into a very hazy crystal ball.

No Return to Normal

One thing seems certain – there will be no return to the 2019 version of “normal” regardless. COVID-19 has produced massive disruptions in business and patterns of work as well as virtually every other aspect of life. That disruption is almost certainly going to continue through 2021 and well into 2022. The first problem is stopping the spread of the virus through widespread vaccination. Here in the USA, achieving the necessary level of vaccination will be a major challenge, meaning here we could experience virus-induced disruption for several more years. The upshot is, following a prolonged period of disruption, new patterns of life and work will emerge that may bear little resemblance to the patterns of 2019.

The Office is History

Organizations have already begun to scale back their physical workspaces – offices – as the pandemic took on all the characteristics of a long-term issue. Organizations have also invested in infrastructure and software to enhance the effectiveness of the new virtual, dispersed workforce. Those trends are both almost certain to continue after the immediate effects of the pandemic have subsided. Office space emptied and leases lapsed or terminated are indicators of a long-term approach, not a short-term adaptation. So keep that Zoom shirt handy for the long run.

Business Travel Will Never be the Same

And that’s a good thing. So much of business travel under the old paradigm was both unnecessary and frivolous. I once sat on a plane next to a man who was returning to Denver from London where he had been for a one-hour meeting in the airport. Unbelievable. Communication technology has matured under the intense pressure of the pandemic and is now so ingrained in our collective thinking that business travel for anything other than absolutely necessary face-to-face in-person work is difficult to imagine.

What Else?

There will be other new patterns of life and work as a result of COVID-19. What exactly those new patterns will be and how they will affect us is a big unknown. In a few years, we may look back on 2019 with the same sense of nostalgia and bewilderment that previous generations looked back at the world of 1912 from the perspective of the Cold War. The main thing is to be aware, be adaptable, and give yourself and others a full measure of grace.