The suddenness of the last crisis has meant that many organisations have had to respond quickly and adapt to new ways of working at a pace never seen before. Operating models have been transformed, protracted decision-making processes have been replaced by focused teams making clear and rapid choices. As we are slowly emerging from the COVID-19 crisis many companies will start planning how to take their activity forward. The way in which management teams rethink their organisation and lay down new standards instead of reverting back to old ways of doing business could greatly influence your company’s long-term competitive advantage. How can you sustain the level of agility and the fast pace your business has had to adopt over the last few months? The demand for your products or services has probably been impacted by the crisis so you need to ask yourself where the organisation should be when the crisis passes and what is likely to change in your customers’ behaviour. What can be carried out to make sure your business recovers and benefits from the crisis?
From an operational point of view, it may mean rethinking your supply chain, relocating part of your production locally, identifying new products and innovations to stay competitive and fill a newly created need. It may also mean reimagining your operating model to ensure your company is anticipating future disruptions and is nimble enough to respond in a better way next time the company is under stress. A flatter organisation with empowered teams has been more effective when fast decision making was required; making sure you have the right structure and the right people in place could make the difference moving forward.
The cornerstone of your success is your employees. During the crisis, your employees have been completing their tasks remotely by embracing new ways of working and using new technologies such as collaboration tools and digital communication applications. This shift will mean businesses will have to make a significant investment in their employees’ skillset. A personalised approach to learning and development will increase employee engagement and retention and will foster the adaptability that could enhance your business’s competitive advantage.
Many organisations were already giving their employees the flexibility to work from home a couple of days a week before the crisis hit. COVID-19 has forced many other businesses into remote working by acting as an accelerator for a technological and mindset change. This has helped to build trust and champion new ways of working. Promoting a better and more flexible workplace will help companies gain a more engaged, contented, and more productive workforce that will contribute to their success.
Building resilience starts with a committed workforce, creating a safe environment where people feel they can give their opinion and contributing to the generation of new ideas will promote high performance thinking within your business. Companies have started to match the right talent to the problems they face without worrying about traditional reporting structures. With a lot of pressure on costs, management teams may need to carry on simplifying their organisational structure to put into place new and faster decision-making processes. Identifying existing talent in the business that can be redeployed and developed further will be a key challenge. Instead of focusing on experience and knowledge, the emphasis will have to be placed on potential and character to ensure your company is spotting future leaders and work at retaining them in the organisation. Losing talent is always costly, it might become even more so when your business is trying to rebuild itself. However, this approach will only work if the talent is already there. Creating a unique work environment and culture, offering flexibility, investing in development and e-learning will be the key to hiring and keeping top talent.
Over the past few months, we have all had to learn from the crisis; now comes the time to apply those lessons. Companies will have to rethink how they grow in this new business context. Leveraging technology further, empowering your staff and offering an attractive culture that fosters trust and value creation will be the key to future success.