Soon we will be ‘back’ to our ‘new normal’. All businesses will be licking their wounds, learning lessons, re-connecting with employees and customers and making-good some of the rapidly implemented decisions and changes of the past few months. From adversity, emerges opportunity, and businesses will need to rapidly re-evaluate their strategies and competitive position. The next big decisions that businesses take will have a lasting impact on their success – balancing short-term needs, with longer term positioning and strategy, will be the C-suite’s challenge.
Right now, C-suites should be discussing:
- Optimising estates
- Securing IT
- Improving agility
- Employee behaviours
Globally, organisations have demonstrated a capability to move their operations online, connecting people remotely. With real estate one of the most substantial fixed costs for a business, C-suite will need to consider whether their vast and expensive real estate footprint is necessary given the success of – and the expected sustained future employee demand for – remote working. Any office space that is retained will likely need to be re-modelled to maintain the health and safety measures we expect to see enacted to protect employees. As remote working becomes the norm, the function of the office may also shift, resulting in workplaces being optimised for the likes of team collaboration, customer meetings, and employee touch down points only.
The overnight requirement for remote working resulted in businesses rapidly investing in IT infrastructure and connectivity. While productivity may have been preserved, the pace of change may have resulted in purchases that are expensive to maintain and not optimised for the business purpose. Now, that new infrastructure needs to be made secure from cyber vulnerabilities and tailored to the business’ needs to be cost effective for the future. Meanwhile, ageing legacy IT needs to be dealt with once and for all, so the business has a robust platform of IT infrastructure.
Covid-19 has forced businesses to examine their agility and adaptability in the face of rapidly changing market conditions. In turn, businesses will need to identify and target the systemic issues that have constrained their ability to adapt at pace to these unexpected challenges. True business agility is enabled or constrained by every function, system, process and person within the business – the ability of the business to adapt in the future will only be as good as the weakest part.
Employees have demonstrated themselves to be remarkably adaptive and resilient. Businesses have enabled mass remote working and placed a greater emphasis on the physical and mental wellbeing of employees. From offering improved mental health resources to encouraging more collaboration, businesses have put practices in place to support the change in employees’ ways of working. Now, businesses must decide on the new corporate culture they want to sustain. Are more flexible working hours acceptable? Is the daily commute an outdated model and not necessary for all staff? Or is the mindset of ‘going to work’ at the office healthy for the work-life balance? C-suite will need to find the answers that work best for both their business and employees.
For all C-suite, making these decisions won’t be quick and it won’t be easy – these isn’t a text book that explains how to shape a business strategy following an unprecedented global pandemic. If considered holistically, and planned robustly, decisions made now can result in financial savings, improve staff morale and create a culture within the workforce that ensures business and individuals can thrive in our ‘new normal’.