A general assessment of the crisis year 2020 is certainly not possible yet and also not across all sectors. The effects of the pandemic on entire industries and individual companies are too varied and will probably continue well into 2021. As always, there are winners and losers, and those in the middle: For some, it is the industry that largely determines the success or even the scope of the actions possible.
For better or for worse. In some places, projects that had been prepared for years, such as a group-wide digitalisation in the HR area, had to be stopped on the home straight. No one can say today whether this will have medium- and long-term disadvantages or whether the spontaneous cost reduction will also create room for a comprehensive “reinvention” of the company.
Others have managed to develop positively in a difficult environment. In the process, some of our clients have dealt with the changed market situation and adapted their product or service strategy. For many, adjustments were made in purchasing and supply chain with the aim of increasing security of supply. We also found change programmes to be continued or even intensified due to freed-up capacities. At the end of the day, it is the courageous ones who have developed further within the scope of their possibilities with a high probability of emerging stronger from the complications.
For all of them, however, the ways of working has changed massively. The change from the company office to the home office, partly imposed, partly voluntary, affected almost every organisation. The reactions to the corona threat have been very different, so are the views on the post-corona working environment.
We have experienced companies that had to realise how little they knew about their employees as a result of the first, surprising lockdown. They had to establish communication channels beyond the company office very quickly with all the conceivable friction losses in terms of sensitivities and performance. Others, independent of corona, already had plans for mobile working in the drawer and were able to implement them quite spontaneously – initially without the prepared, corresponding trainings. And finally, we experienced the “top class performers”: a company e.g. that within a few weeks equipped the entire staff with laptops and mobile phones and at the same time upgraded the internal systems for complete remote working. In this example, the technical basis was implemented in the crisis year to allow for future way of colaboration exclusively oriented on the task and the needs of the employees. Here, challenges were seen as opportunities and solutions for the future were implemented courageously, consistently and quickly. Exemplary.
However, not everything is won with technical connection. The changes required with the relocation of the workplace have often only been introduced provisionally and will certainly require an honest and profound review in 2021. The main topics will be leadership at a distance and collaboration within the organisation. Regular virtual breakfasts with the team are an innovative and necessary method, as is the onine after-work beer, which brings the working day to a recognisable close for everyone.
All instruments for successful mobile working are available.
As the Corona threat subsides, more focus will also be placed on home office working conditions. Situations where partners work for different companies but have to fit 2 home offices into a 2 ½ rooms flat are not uncommon today; it is certainly not a sustainable solution.
The ways in which companies deal with flexible workplaces in the long term will be very different. There are still CEOs today who are very sceptical about working away from the production site or company location. In doing so, they may be blocking the way for a cultural development of the company that takes the new social reality into account: The desire of employees to do their work with purpose and in harmony with personal interests – flexibility and trust included. If this desire is fulfilled, they repay with enthusiasm and willingness to perform.
Apparently, those who continue to prefer on-site direction of their employees above state of the art leadership, may lack tools that reconcile the interests of employees and the company. Solutions for modern performance measurement exist (e.g. OKR, Balanced Scorecard, Transformational Leadership). They only have to be adapted to the respective situation with clear rules and attractive incentive systems. And they have to be introduced sensitively and sustainably.
Visual: A. Mauer
proINject – Interim Network
We stand for successful transformations through forward-thinking process design and organisational development. We foster open, honest and well-balanced communication with all stakeholders.
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