The Journal The Authority on Global Business in Japan

Sometimes in life and business, we allow momentum to carry us forward without really assessing why we are doing something, or if we’re on the right path. There are so many demands on our time that finding opportunities to reflect can be difficult. Sometimes we just need to hit pause.

That’s what the coronavirus pandemic has allowed many people to do. One of the silver linings of this terrible outbreak is that Covid-19 has served as a sort of reset button. The forced pause in activity and disruption to routines has pulled the blinds open on how we live our lives and conduct our businesses. And it is likely to lead to positive change.

WORK
In terms of business, we’ve seen entrenched workflows upended and long-discussed-but-uncomfortable changes rapidly set into motion. Surprisingly to many, ripping the Band-Aid off wasn’t so painful after all.

While there is much to be said for estab­­lishing a routine and sticking to it, finding new ways of doing things can spur inno­vation. This is true not only on a company level, but on an individual one as well. I have my favorite tools that make my work easier, but I also enjoy trying out new ones to see if they might be even better.

This is not the case for everyone, and often people get so stuck in their old ways that they actually make things harder as they dismiss other approaches that could provide great benefit. In companies, this can trickle down from the top and impact everyone. Finding a way through the pandemic has made considering new ideas a must.

LIFE
Relationships have also been strained by Covid-19. Some will not survive the crisis. Others will be stronger. For families and partners who live under the same roof, the chance to spend more time together has allowed them to reconnect and rediscover the joys of the past. Often, amid the rat race of modern life, these connections get lost.

For those who live apart, the quarantines and stay-at-home requests have been chal­lenging. In some cases, we have not been able to see loved ones since March. And as each week passes, that distance can cause rifts and weaken the relationship. But that is, in itself, a form of reflection that may only be possible when you are forced to pause.

BALANCE
Ultimately, the chance to stop and look around at how and why we do things will lead to a better work–life balance—that elusive goal we so often talk about but rarely achieve. Through this period of reflection, we can find the best path. For some, the pandemic may represent a chance for a slight course correction. Others may find it to be a barrier sep­arating their pre- and post-Covid-19 lives. But the end result can be positive.

And from the business perspective, it’s as if an operating system update has been installed and we can now enjoy new fea­tures and improved tools.

What the future holds remains to be seen, but I have no doubt that we are better prepared for the years to come as a result of this crisis than we were before. Two decades into the 21st century, we’re finally letting go of entrenched 20th-century ideas about how companies must operate. It just took a tragic, global disruption to reveal the reset button.

Christopher Bryan Jones is Editor-in-Chief of The ACCJ Journal. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, he has lived in Japan since 1997.