Pandemic and Telework – reflections of an entrepreneur
The pandemic forced us all to review our priorities and, by the same token, how to go about things like work structure, management style, production chain, supply logistics, etc… oh yes, and our Human Resources Management!
In short, while everything was going well in the best of worlds, we all discovered how fragile our happiness and our businesses were!
We will soon complete a 2nd year of distancing and exceptional hygiene measures to stop the pandemic and we all hope that all this will be behind us for good in the fall of 2022, although some prognoses suggest otherwise.
So, we thought it would be a good idea to take stock of how far we’ve come since then and to share some of our personal thoughts on the subject.
Organisational Challenges in Times of Pandemic
HOW TO MOTIVATE EMPLOYEES?
It was not easy, because for many people, the initial shock of the pandemic created apathy followed by uncertainty, uncertainty about their future on many levels; personal, health, family, job, income, etc. These emotions were further exacerbated by the isolation and curfew imposed.
Despite this, many managers were able to react quickly and compensate for this initial effect with one-on-one and ZOOM meetings (Teams, Google Meet, etc.) to stay on course… and focused.
Many managers then discovered that managing the troops remotely is no easy task and goes far beyond the management of assigned tasks, because connecting with an employee at home also means connecting with his or her personal universe… which often had to be dealt with!
And we also found that many employees were not properly set up at home to perform at their best.
HOW TO KEEP PRODUCTION GOING?
The problem gradually became apparent as many companies closed down because they simply could not get supplies. For many, this was due to the lack of personnel at the suppliers due to COVID-19 outbreaks and government subsidies, but for many others, this pandemic highlighted their unhealthy dependence on a few suppliers or even on Asian suppliers… on the other side of the world!
Out of sight, out of mind; they say!
Miracle recipes had to be found and quickly. And then came the notion of essential services and products that essentially covered the food, energy and health sectors, of course.
Was it a warning shot or a stroke of genius? It depends…
Some took advantage of the opportunity to reorient their production chain or add a new one, others found local or closer suppliers and are still happy about it today.
But for the vast majority of us, this shock was an opportunity to become aware of the need to drastically reduce our socio-economic dependence, mainly in terms of health and food. In terms of energy, we are already among the best in the world thanks to our hydroelectricity and our transition to renewable energies should ensure our security for the distant future.
As for the service sector, it was definitely the “lucky one” of the lot, as it is the one where teleworking is most applicable. And this episode is sure to be a turning point in the future of how things will be done. “Hybrid”, you say!!!
HOW TO MAINTAIN SALES IN TIMES OF PANDEMIC?
For the Services sector, in addition to the slowdown in business due to the… slowdown in business, the return to a new normal followed the gradual control of outbreaks.
For the Goods sector, it was a different story. For the smart ones, it was the return of the good old days as soon as supply resumed and thanks to online trade; for the others, it was an emergency turn to online trade. This period also saw a proliferation of new delivery services!
For many other companies in the Hotel & Restaurant, Culture & Entertainment and of course Tourism sectors, it was a disaster.
On the services side, here again, another realization for many entrepreneurs who were hit hard by their digital lag; some would say that they had to pay their “technological debt“!
Lessons of entrepreneurship in times of pandemic
This pandemic has changed us all, inexorably, and most likely permanently!
These upheavals have brought to light fundamental traits of human nature, the social fabric and the importance of quality of life for both.
The fact is that there is no going back; therefore, we must already plan for the return to normal and face this new normal.
And what will this “new normal” be made of?
First of all, there is the work environment to consider, because the vast majority of workers do not want to go back to the office full time. And even though one’s head is in the company, when one’s body is at home, it can be difficult to concentrate if one does not recreate a minimum of isolation similar to the company. The home does not offer the supervision or structure of an office. It will be necessary to accompany the employees in the creation of effective work bubbles.
There is also the human dimension to consider more than before, especially in a situation of labour shortage. We will have to learn to deal with different personalities at a distance, in telecommuting mode, some people need discipline to function and perform, others need comfort and warmth, still others simply need a directive and a clear objective, etc. Clearly, performance objectives will need to be redefined and incentives and bonuses will need to be creative.
Critical decisions are on the horizon: what actions and investments should you prioritize to optimize both human comfort and maintain performance in this new hybrid work environment.
In short, the company will have to adapt to employees.
Update applications and software’s… it’s urgent!
Zoom/Teams will never replace the conference room.
It’s hard to read body language from a distance.
The home is not the office.
And of course, this pandemic has also allowed us to test the effectiveness of our processes and collaboration tools in terms of security, connectivity, real-time collaboration, project management, quality control, etc.
With more or less happy results depending on…
And this will be the subject of our next post.