It has been said that the only thing worse than being forced to endure a crisis, is wasting one.
In light of this wisdom, here are five things that COVID-19 has re-shaped and revealed about the new world of work – and which organizations should embrace to get ahead, or ignore and fall behind:
- Remote working is no longer an organizational perk. It is now a bi-lateral arrangement between employers and employees that materially benefits both parties; not just the latter. Naturally, this doesn’t mean that everyone can or should work remotely. However, it does mean that organizations need to pivot and reframe their perspective, so that instead of asking “who should we allow to work from home?” the question is now “who must come into work, and does this need to be every day?” Indeed, we are already seeing this adjustment take root. A recent Gartner survey of CFOs found that 74 percent intend to allocate some employees to remote work on a permanent basis after the crisis ends.
- The shift towards remote working has highlighted another important truth: what employees achieve is more important than how, when, or where they achieve it (provided of course that fundamental standards are maintained and teams don’t disintegrate). The implication is that micromanaging employees is no longer merely counter-productive to organizational success: it’s a fundamental threat to organizational survival. Micromanagers — and those who install and enable them — have (finally) reached their expiry date. Trust is the currency in the new world of work, not control.
- Adaptable businesses that use a collaborative work management (CWM) solution like Clarizen One to effectively and rapidly reconfigure workflows based on changing needs — some positive, some negative, and some to be determined — will thrive and elevate to the top of their respective marketplace. Businesses that cannot pivot due to an inflexible technological infrastructure (i.e. software, apps and systems built for command-and-control instead of sense-and-respond) will struggle to keep pace, and eventually will be forced to re-invent themselves or disappear. Yes, we will eventually move past the coronavirus pandemic. But no, we have not seen the last public health crisis or sustained state of emergency. The ability to intelligently adapt on-the-fly is now the most vital and valuable competitive advantage.
- As noted by Ipsos, the coronavirus pandemic has forced brands to re-think how they stay relevant to customers in an increasingly unstable world. A fundamental piece of this puzzle is to shift from passively providing customer service, to actively enabling customer success. The former is concerned about dealing with escalated issues and problems (“no news is good news.”) The latter focuses leaning forward to ensure that every customer maximizes value — including those who don’t complain. To that end, every decision must be filtered through the paradigm of customer success. Research by McKinsey has found that 70 percent of the buyer’s journey is based on how a customer feels about how they are being treated. In the post-coronavirus world, this proportion is going to be even higher.
- The impressive, and in some cases heroic efforts of engaged workers who have gone the extra mile during the coronavirus pandemic has confirmed that employee engagement is not something that organizations can switch on and off in a tactical, opportunistic manner. Rather, engagement must be an integral, authentic and established part of the organization’s vision, which is demonstrated through a range of programs, policies, protocols, and support systems — both formal and informal. As concluded by Gallup researchers: “concentrating on employee engagement can help companies withstand, and possibly even thrive, in tough economic times.”
The Bottom Line
The coronavirus pandemic has been devastating, and it will take years before the full impact can be calculated and comprehended. However, it is already clear that the world of work has dramatically changed. Organizations that embrace the above-noted shifts will enjoy a future characterized by profitable opportunities and dynamic growth. Conversely, organizations that resist the need for change and consequently “waste the crisis” will find the future unwelcome and unfriendly, to say the least.