The arrival of COVID-19 has introduced social distancing and remote working as the new normal. Business as usual approaches are being disrupted, re-evaluated, and modified. Companies that have been resistant to a work from home policy have been forced to move to a virtual environment. Organisations that were once slow to market have mobilised themselves to expand their digital offerings and strategies.
Amidst the disruption it is critical for organisations to question the status quo and establish improved and sustainable ways of working. As we navigate this fast-paced transition period, organisations need to interrogate their existing decision-making structures, knowledge sharing capabilities and communication channels in order to identify potential inefficiencies and areas of improvements.
Re-evaluating decision-making structures
Organisations should question whether their current decision-making structures support informed and swift decision making. The pandemic has forced many companies to make difficult decisions relating to employee safety, business strategy and customer engagement, with the number and gravity of decisions increasing exponentially. It is important, therefore, to take a critical look at all current decision-making structures in order to identify those that need to be streamlined or changed.
Companies should identify which decisions are most critical and then categorise them in order to understand where in the organisation those decisions should be made. Previous approaches which limited decision-making authority only to the very top level of management no longer enable leaders at various levels to respond urgently to pressing issues during the crisis. Now is the time to empower more stakeholders in the decision-making process. To encourage new ways of problem solving, some companies have created a forum for rapid debate. It is an opportunity for individuals from across the business to participate and share their perspectives. In this way, more viewpoints can be considered before any decision is taken.
Coordinate knowledge sharing
While organisations respond and adapt to the challenges of the pandemic, consideration for how knowledge is coordinated within the business becomes pivotal. As companies that used to be co-located move towards virtual environments and teams, clarity on how knowledge is stored, shared, and leveraged must be established. Internal processes and procedures need to be documented, digitised and accessible to all employees. What information should be digitised is an important question to ask. If the decision is made without careful consideration, the information may be incomplete, incorrect, or irrelevant.
Companies should identify critical operational, product and customer service knowledge to be documented and digitised in order to support business continuity. Technology also becomes an important factor to consider. Organisations have started to leverage document sharing software like MS Teams, Google Docs and DropBox to share knowledge. Finding the right tool will depend on your specific needs, but the important thing to remember is that it should promote fast and easy knowledge sharing to support the ever-changing environment that the pandemic has created.
Effective and frequent communication
As the workforce has become distributed and remotely connected with little human interaction, effective and frequent communication is more important than ever before. Organisations have the responsibility to put their employees’ minds at ease, provide hope for the future and to bring clarity to the crisis. The level of information that is communicated during this crisis is therefore very important.
The change that the pandemic has brought has likely unsettled your employees and therefore these changes should be communicated with a level of empathy to minimise anxiety. Scheduling team huddles via videoconferencing tools such as Zoom, Google Meet and Skype enables management to deliver difficult messages with empathy and compassion. We’ve also seen how companies have shared important COVID-19 messages through FAQ guides, newsletters and internal systems such as the company intranet. Delivering the right information to the right people in a timely manner is key. Therefore, consider ramping up your business communications by providing weekly or even daily updates where possible.
The impact of COVID-19 across the world is unprecedented and may be felt for years to come. Tried and tested business approaches may be too slow to keep up with the current pace of change. There is no better time for organisations to reassess their current approaches to ensure maximum business value.