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Did we really need COVID-19 to prove that we are capable of adopting what we already knew

Goran Kalanj, CEO

History teaches us that major breakthroughs always come during crises, and often in situations when things are not going according to plan. It rings true both in personal and in business aspects of life, as well as in society in general.

Three catastrophes at the same time

Last year, the pandemic surprised us all, hitting different parts of the world with strong intensity. While the world was dealing with one catastrophe, Croatia was dealing with three, all in the same year. We were hit by a strong earthquake during the height of the pandemic in March, and in December we were hit by another, even stronger than the first one. That’s too much in such a short time for such a small country – you might think – but while we count the losses, it brought out the best in us, showing that people have unbreakable spirit. It also proved that in times of terrible suffering, the greatest accomplishments are achieved.

Opportunity for accomplishments

Similarly, while the world is wishing that we could just have skipped 2020 somehow because we’re now counting losses in human lives and analysing the economic impact that this pandemic has brought to us, what can be seen is that the world is moving in a direction of great benefit, a direction that was unimaginable in pre-Corona times. It used to be inconceivable that multiple vaccines that are both reliable and 95 per cent efficient be discovered in a period of less than one year.Techniques that were used in making this vaccine were completely new and they can now be used to discover new treatments for other diseases, rapidly bringing care and prevention to the next level.

Furthermore, digital transformation is finally underway in full speed, and even the most technology agnostic companies and individuals are adopting it at a rapid pace. The whole dot-com boom in the nineties was living on the promise that technology will fundamentally change how we live. It was said that we will buy stuff online, socialize online, communicate, and collaborate online, basically, do most things online. It is now twenty years after the dot-com boom not living up to its promise and twenty years after its crash, and we are still mostly living offline. Companies do business face-to-face, business travels are clogging airplane traffic, people can often only work for a company if they live in the same city, cities are full of traffic jams, everyone is moving to big cities because they are not allowed to work remotely, brick-and-mortar shops and shopping centres are the place to buy stuff and spend time. Offices are crowded, even the open space movement aimed at putting as many people as possible in limited and expensive office space.

And then COVID happened, and in only one year we have changed our habits more than we could have changed in twenty years without it, although we already had all the technology needed to do it. Suddenly, we are surprised at how much easier and more convenient it is to buy shoes online or to have a business meeting or an education online. Just imagine the potential it has in changing our lives for the better after the pandemic ends. Less business travel means more high-quality time, better life quality, less pollution, more opportunities for people living in small cities, less traffic in big cities, more efficiency, more opportunity.

It was not only the rapid development of a vaccine aided by technology that impressed us, but also the fact that many technology companies did unimaginable things, like Zoom. At the beginning of all this, Zoom was not a company with huge resources, but they were able to scale at such a high pace that they not only managed to keep up with the rapid growth in the number of users, but it also needs to be said that their quality of service is at a top level.

Time for new habits and opportunities

The time that we spent in lockdown showed us to focus on and enjoy what is important, and that is the people we are close with. Although the time spent inside our four walls was exhausting over a longer run, we still realized that many things we did before were merely a part of our everyday habit and that we could easily do without them. Quantity was replaced with quality.

With the vaccine in hand and more confidence and belief in a brighter future, we can look back to the COVID year and conclude that it catapulted us into a new and much better world that we were unable to reach in the last twenty years and maybe wouldn’t reach in the next twenty, either, just because we enjoy staying in our comfort zone. It’s clear that people don’t like getting out of their comfort zones, as it leads to unplanned events and a loss of control, but we oftentimes achieve our full potential by going through really tough time and, ultimately changing things for the better.

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