Three Ways to Tackle COVID-19’s Long-Term Implications on The Nature of Work

By Khadim Batti, CEO and co-founder, Whatfix

Moderna CEO’s recent warning that the COVID-19 virus will be around “forever” has left the entire world wondering how much further the pandemic will affect our lives. As business leaders, we’re also left contemplating how to future proof our organizations. Notably, the ongoing pandemic may play a huge role in changing the design of the workplace as businesses continue to grapple with unprecedented change. Some of the changes include shaping organizational culture to cater to a remote workforce, as well as implementing new software to help employees adopt new technologies, work more efficiently, measure success, and collaborate with one another. 

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While the remote workforce and dispersed teams have become the norm since the start of the pandemic, many organizations and employees still wonder how they can best adjust to the ever-changing landscape that characterizes our new normal as long-term implications from the pandemic continue to evolve. 

As the CEO of my company, I have personally experienced this shift within my organization. I’ve learned a few key lessons along the way that have helped me achieve success in running a business from afar, while adapting to a radically different way of working. Here are my top three tips when planning for the unexpected and the inevitable: 

Plan for the Worst Case Scenarios

Every organization, of course, enters the market with a business plan that outlines how that company plans to conduct business quarter-to-quarter. While you may already have an everyday plan in play, creating a contingency plan that you can reference any time disaster hits can play a huge role in how you run your company amidst challenging and often unprecedented circumstances. Planning ahead for challenging times and learning how to be nimble is not only vital to the success of your business, but also helps to prepare each employee and stakeholder involved. Having a contingency plan can help you prepare for the worst while concurrently helping you and your employees be nimble and adjust to any changes quicker. It’s also important to keep company culture in mind when developing this plan. Although company culture may come as an afterthought for many, it is the responsibility of the CEO to ensure that employees feel supported and safe during difficult times. Maintaining a transparent and positive culture is the differentatior of companies who can weather tough times. 

Pay Attention to Employee Feedback

Communication is key when building company culture, especially when working with dispersed teams in a remote workforce. While existing employees may already understand and have a feel for the company culture, conveying it to new employees can be a challenge because of the lack of face-to-face interaction. Oftentimes, communicating through email or collaborative platforms such as Slack lacks the interpersonal gravity to bring people together in a meaningful way, especially if people have never met in person or interacted with each other before. I’ve learned that one of the best ways to shape a remote company culture is simply by picking up the phone and calling my employees to check in on how they’re doing and directly soliciting  feedback. Traditionally, many employees expect the leader of their organization to be too busy to talk to them on a personal level. I believe that company culture starts from the top; showing that you care about your employees on a personal level can set an example. Intensive investment in listening to employee feedback through multiple channels is paramount to building trust throughout the organization. Additionally, having weekly virtual happy hours or group meetings are also great ways to introduce new employees and give everyone the opportunity to build a comfortable work environment as they get to know each other. 

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Leverage Technology to Work for You

In the last year alone, we saw the pandemic drive rapid acceleration of digital transformation and adoption from enterprises across a wide range of industries. Many organizations had to quickly adapt their business models and shift gears to support a suddenly remote, distributed workforce. We saw businesses implement various kinds of new software technology in an effort to help onboard and train new and existing employees, manage employee workflow, collaborate with one another, and increase efficiency and productivity. IDC predicts that “over 50% of IT spending will be directly for digital transformation and innovation” by 2024. However, it’s important to note that implementing the right technology is crucial to successfully helping everyone adjust to the new normal. Quality versus quantity rings true in this case. Determining the right tools that you need for every category – whether it’s Slack for messaging, Salesforce for CRM, or Workday for HR functions – is crucial to the efficiency of your employees and organization. Another challenge that businesses face is getting their employees to adopt this kind of new enterprise software. Implementing technology such as Digital Adoption Solutions can help employees adjust and adopt these new digital tools.

Business leaders will always encounter a variety of unexpected challenges. Having a backup plan in place, being receptive to employee feedback and communication, and implementing the right enterprise technologies are surefire ways to help ease employees to adopt new technologies, shape a positive company culture, and adjust to changes in the midst of hard times.

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