As the world learns to ’live’ with COVID-19, it is interesting to see how people in the workplace are redefining their boundaries, leaning into their own personal leadership and perfecting the art of new skills, with a personal style which is noticeably different.
COVID-19 has redefined the travel ecosystems of the world as one of the industries hardest hit by the pandemic. Low traveller confidence resulted from the severe lockdowns followed by the (initially) slow re-start of travel, coupled with bizarre changes in regulations and requirements.
The recovery of travel since then has been exponential (bar a small bump in the road from Omicron). People at the heart of the industry moved on and reskilled themselves due to financial pressures and the need for alternative forms of livelihood. The result is a massive abrasion in travel ecosystems and a new path of industry recovery. What can we learn from this industry and how do we support people in our organisations in their own recovery?
- Redefining boundaries − People speak of the ‘great resignation’ as a metaphor for people redefining how they like to work and live. In reality, people are placing firm boundaries on how much they give of themselves to work and how they value and spend their non-work hours. People who reskilled during the pandemic are more inclined to hold those boundaries firmer and not compromise. In the travel industry, people are not coming back to ‘old’ roles, and the lack of skills is hurting recovery and, by implication, the recovery of the globalised world.
- Personal leadership − With people having been furloughed or working from home for prolonged periods, the very thought of being told where, when and how to work almost began to feel like a foreign concept. Instead, people have taken ownership and responsibility for themselves and their work in a way that demonstrates a clear leaning into personal power and leading self (as a positive unintended consequence). In the travel industry, the flexibility to reconnect with suppliers and customers has been more instantaneous, and as a result there has initially been a lower propensity to travel. The converse is also true, as people yearn for in-person connection, and hence the demand is exceeding the supply of all commodities related to travel.
- New skills − Considering how we used to do things and the complete inefficiencies, we have come along way during the pandemic to be smarter and operate in a better, digitised ecosystem. Our ability to learn skills when we are under pressure and have no choice is remarkable. We need to harness this ability and continue our trajectory. In the travel industry, digitisation and personalisation have become key to distinguishing the new client experience. This may have resulted in certain roles becoming redundant in the travel ecosystem.
These lessons from the travel industry allow us to reflect on how far we have come in our professional and personal lives during the pandemic. Harnessing these positive outcomes to keep the momentum of personal growth and learning alive enables us to get closer to our personal aspirations.