The pandemic created, in many respects, a technological reckoning in industries that had previously been slow to adopt advancements. A worldwide pandemic necessitates adaptation at a level previously unknown to most people and industries. While the wheels of innovation are constantly turning, forces of resistance are often at play as well. The resistance to change is nothing new – it is actually rather intrinsic to human nature.
As discussed in a Washington Post article, humans once abhorred coffee and refrigeration.
“We are hardwired to resist change. Part of the brain—the amygdala—interprets change as a threat and releases the hormones for fear, fight, or flight. Your body is actually protecting you from change,” explained consultant Chris Pennington.
It appears that humans most often need to be backed into a corner to fully accept change, as has been noted in organizational change research since the 1960s, Pennington pointed out.
In other words, we are willing to change when the pain of loss is greater than the power of gain.
Or, per the formula created by David Gleicher in the 1960s:
Dissatisfaction x Vision x First Concrete Steps > Resistance
To say that most people have been dissatisfied with the pandemic, the isolation, the economic upheaval, the loss of travel and the illnesses and deaths of friends and family members is likely an incredible understatement. There has been a prevailing loss of freedom and loss of the feeling of safety.
The psychological and emotional stress of this sweeping and instant shift of day-to-day life has been noted by the scientific community.
“Many of us are facing challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, are necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19, but they can make us feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety,” according to the Centers for Disease Control.
Digital transformation and digital acceleration are now being used to describe the lightning quick speed at which humans were essentially forced to accept new innovations. They were here before, tentatively lapping before making massive splashes when the pandemic created room.
This statement from Brenard Marr in Forbes applies to all sectors, including commercial real estate: “Those companies able to use technology well to keep going and rethink their business model for the future by fast-tracking digital transformation will be ones ahead of their competition.”
We must prepare to face a brave new world in which the new normal brings with it unseen risk on a global scale. Innovation will help humanity mitigate the threat of disease and come up with solutions so that we may stay connected while still remaining safe.