The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a majority of companies throughout the world to enter into reactive – if not panic mode. These companies have been forced to change or adapt their plans and projects, as well as processes and production. While this pandemic won’t last forever, it will most likely change our way of working and collaborating in the long run. This leads to a very important question, how will this COVID-19 crisis accelerate the speed of corporate cultural transformation?
At BOLDT, we anticipate COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on corporate leadership, organisation structures, and most of all, effective workplace management. According to a 2018 Eurostat survey, working from home in Europe was not well established. For example, in Italy, only 3.6 percent of the workforce stated they regularly worked from home. And in Switzerland and Germany, only 4.1 and 5.0 percent of employees, respectively, worked regularly in their home offices. The Netherlands (14.0 percent) and Finland (13.3 percent) had the highest percentages of people who worked from home. Within a very short period of time, COVID-19 has already drastically changed these numbers and employers have been forced to rethink remote work completely and re-organise their business processes.
Identify the turning point
In times of crisis, usual routines fall to the wayside and uncertainty often prevails. This is why management needs to be prepared in advance for crisis situations. After all, crises require different means and methods than usual. And as unfortunate as things might appear for your company; this could be an opportunity for effective and long-term business transformation. Managing a crisis is a matter of mindset. Leaders should approach a crisis by asking themselves, “How do I want my business to be positioned when this is over, and how will people perceive my organisation long-term?”
Make the right decisions during times of crisis
Business leaders are tasked with making highly strategic and responsible decisions on a daily basis to enact long-lasting and effective change. In the best of circumstances, this can be difficult to do, but in the midst of a crisis such as COVID-19, the stakes are much higher. For example, the management of Adidas and H&M have faced public backlash for their announcements to suspend rent payments for local stores while they remain closed due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, most small shops throughout Europe continue to pay rent. Both Adidas and H&M are now confronted with consumer-initiated brand boycotts. After public pressure became too strong, Adidas publicly apologised and announced that April rents will be paid. Nevertheless, the reputational damage has been done. Meanwhile, other companies such as LVMH made more altruistic decisions when they decided to use production lines of its perfume brands to produce large quantities of hand sanitizer to supply hospitals free of charge to combat COVID-19 in France.
Take on a new role
When companies lose financial value, corporate values become more important. At BOLDT, we believe that purpose-driven organisations are able to move away from purely economic aspects and recognise the unique challenges that have been presented to them. Companies such as this are more likely to meet the expectations of society and therefore also their customers. As Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock once said, “Every company must not only deliver financial performance, but also show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”
Focus on the post-Corona environment
The paths organisations are currently taking will determine to a large extent how they are perceived after the crisis. Think of the current situation as a crossroad that has unexpectedly opened up before you. Several courses of action are suddenly possible. In crisis mode employees need responsible leaders and well-managed organisational change more than ever before. This is why leaders should immediately start focusing on the post-COVID-19 environment and shift from reaction to action mode. What kind of daily business do we want to return to? What should this look like and how can we as an organisation actively participate in shaping it? If your organisation is committed to this type of change, now is the time to connect with BOLDT. We have a proven track record leading companies through crisis and transformation processes so reach out if you are interested in learning more.
BOLDT is a senior-led consultancy focused on delivering business strategy, communications and stakeholder engagement. BOLDT has offices in Amsterdam, Berlin, Brussels, Cologne, Dusseldorf, Oslo and Zurich. BOLDT has a network of international partners which enables us to give clients support across Europe and around the world. Please visit BOLDTPartners.com to learn more.