If you have not noticed the tectonic shifts now taking place in business and in our lives, you are probably living off the grid; and if you are at least you are insulated from the craziness and uncertainty that now is consuming every person on the planet.

We are shutting down America to save ourselves. I have always argued that as humans we are reluctant to change our ways until a crisis moves us to change. We refuse to take the necessary steps to prevent and plan for uncertainty unless the proverbial fire is lit under our backsides. Usually, when this finally does occur, it’s too late to react appropriately and with the necessary focus for it to have the immediate effects we are so desirous for it to have.

As an IT executive, I have fought the “remote worker” battle for years. Typically, the senior executives at the companies I worked with and for argued, successfully, that if you can’t lay your eyes on a person in a cube, you have no way of knowing if they are working or being productive.

For any of us that have worked since the invention of the internet know all too well, shopping, surfing, personal emails, mobile phones and hundreds of other productivity stealing activities happen in the office right under our noses, let alone the untold hours of water cooler chat and lost time driving in congested traffic.

IT and Business executives are scrambling to deploy the tools, processes, and capabilities to enable a remote workforce. The bigger challenge is culture and process. In addition to not changing until we face a crisis, humans are also notorious for giving less than stellar effort, when they think they are not being watched or being graded.

To steal from Proverbs: “Where there is no vision, the people perish”. It has always been about leadership. People left to their own devices will wander and revert to the minimum performance necessary. To navigate the change curve, decisive and clear leadership must be provided.

A vision needs to be established and a map created that defines the target culture, defined norms and behaviors and then a clear path to implementing and embedding that vision. People need to understand the new culture of how work gets done. People’s actions must exhibit that they can execute and perform in that new culture and their words and attitude need to be in keeping with the newly established norms and values.

Change is never easy, but crisis creates opportunity and this is the moment for leadership and dynamism. Driving a successful and robust remote work culture will reap multiple benefits. First and foremost the safety and well being of our most important assets, our people, but additionally cost savings, quality of life improvement, environment impacts, and many more.

The tools and technology exist, it is a matter of willingness to shift and the effort to implement. The current business climate provides a needed impetus to drive the change, but are you ready to lead?