The COVID-19 organisation

21 April 2020 Posted by: Patrick Woods Posted In: Crisis management

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Organisations, regardless of the industry they are in, are currently facing headwinds they have not previously experienced. The individuals within them will be shaken by this and human nature, being what it is, dictates that we will all want things to return to normal as soon as possible. But the likely duration of this crisis means that the behavioural changes we are experiencing are likely to be with us for a long time. That makes it likely they will become embedded in our organisations. It can be observed that two broad behavioural scenarios are already emerging.

1. The new, more flexible organisational mindset. This is best exemplified by growing familiarity with and acceptance of homeworking as a positive for both organisational efficiency and mental health. But we can see other benefits such as shorter meetings, facilitated virtually and signs of more attention being devoted to the personal well-being of individuals within teams. It appears we are being nicer to each other.

2. A renewed focus on efficiency. Employers are having to make stark decisions right now about resources, cutting costs in order to survive, so many may learn they can do the same with less people. The financial pain for both business and individuals is currently being absorbed by government, but the longer this crisis continues the more likely it is that some organisations will opt for a leaner future structure.

Both scenarios are likely to become embedded behaviours in businesses so they will be part of the change we will observe as we emerge from this crisis. Organisations will be faced with the challenge of institutionalising and embedding them in business plans, and in understanding the impact on operational risk.

Well managed, resilient businesses are likely to navigate this crisis best. But for all organisations, retaining a focus on customer requirements remains the best route to survival and afterwards to a resumption of growth.

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