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For about the last decade, business leaders have been told to be disruptive. To innovate or be gone. Change was coming and those that didn’t adapt would be left in the dust. This was particularly true for leaders working in the world of content. First publishing, then TV and film, and now of course all types of content channels. And this sentiment, or requirement, is more true today than it’s ever been. Entire industries have changed. Just ask any journalist.

Today, we face a new type of disruption due to the global health pandemic. COVID-19 has forced change that is not technological-based but sudden, large, and in many ways irreversible.  For those working in media, it means that teams are now fully virtual and that both workflow management and platform adoption are no longer nice-to-haves but vital for business continuity.

While content producers and their creatives have been somewhat grudging adopters of collaborative tools, the new reality of “we all work together or we don’t work at all” gives operational leaders a chance to drive tool adoption and workflow optimization that can provide significant and lasting business benefit down the road.  New workflows might have been considered top-down initiatives in the past. In our current situation, adoption metrics are no longer a bullet on an annual performance review, instead, it’s the only way to get the work done in the time allocated at the quality required. Just as core collaborative platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Zoom Communications have seen usage soar, the same phenomenon is also happening among collaboration-focused media technologies.

The truth is, this too shall pass (hopefully sooner rather than later). Which begs the question, how will this current circumstance change the future of how we work and how marketing and content teams collaborate?

History suggests that sudden and impactful changes like we’re experiencing today, rarely regress back to their original state. Work will forever be different going forward. Instead an ongoing cycle of related innovation accelerates and, in many cases, surpasses the original motivation for the change. For example, look at how the need to coordinate train schedules in the late 1830s pulled the telegraph quickly forward from a novel curiosity to an indispensable tool of transportation. In a few short years, the telegraph became even more powerful and essential as a carrier of news and information. The same thing is happening today, just on a greater scale and with a lot more technology.

Companies (and their external partners and marketing agencies) that have been forced to go virtual are discovering new operational efficiencies that cut overhead and improve outcomes. And honestly, many companies were already moving this way simply because this is the way the world is moving. No borders. No boundaries. No timezones. And limitless opportunities to move your content marketing strategy forward. For these businesses, the new reality simply increases the urgency (and shortened the time frame from decades to days).

So, how can you be sure that your organization is set up to successfully emerge from this new normal while retaining some of the newly discovered operational and technological efficiencies you’ve adopted? It’s actually not that hard. The first step is keeping your team (internal and external) engaged, connected, and motivated. The second step is being flexible and open to innovation and disruption that forces uncomfortable (but often necessary) change. Make disruption a part of your culture and empower your content teams to push the barriers of creativity. And when the next big, unwelcome change comes, you’ll be ready to start all over again.