Overall, our survey of our tech leaders within our network has found a distinct consensus in approaches despite the varying circumstances that affect each business from country to country and different industries. In both the public and private sectors, every leader has prioritised the need to adapt – incorporating new information as it becomes available and altering their approaches as a result, whether these changes be incremental or radical.
In dealing with the current crisis, business leaders have had to address the immediate challenges presented by COVID-19 and how this has impacted their customers, technological requirements, business stakeholders and employees. They have been forced to find solutions to financial challenges as well as the resilience issues that have occurred as a result of quarantine-induced lockdowns and their economic repercussions.
As such, leaders across all countries and industries have, as a whole, increased the amount of communication and engagement with employees. These measures have navigated the fine balance between building the morale of employees, whilst setting realistic expectations and letting them know their well-being is a priority. Working norms drastically changed, with remote working policies instituted (and likely to stay in place for a long time to come), as well as prioritising and considering the necessity of work-related travel once restrictions ease.
Areas of focus have also shifted, with previously B2B companies moving towards a more direct-to-consumer approach. Hand in hand with this has come new ways of communicating and doing business with these audiences, including the incorporation of increased online engagement strategies and communication.
At the same time, business leaders must also monitor the leading indicators of how the pandemic is evolving, and develop scenario planning that considers economic, environmental, and epidemiological inputs. This is crucial, not only for the livelihood of the business but for the health and well-being of employees.
What will the new normal look like?
Customers and consumers
As part of their scenario planning and as companies begin to resume activity, the next question is, “What will the new normal look like?” In addition to creating detailed plans for the return to operations, processes will need to be implemented to account for the new customer and employee habits that have developed as a result of the pandemic. What we are seeing is literally a redefinition to the realities of work and consumption, with impacts across all areas of life and the propulsion of new technologies in commerce, operations and learning tools.
Having experienced a new reality that prioritises eCommerce and online orders of all kinds, consumers all over the world are recalibrating the way they shop and spend. Certainly, there are signifiers that suggest online services will now be adopted far more quickly than ever before. These new practices will likely become a permanent fixture of consumer habits in the foreseeable future.
Companies will also need to work hard to protect and support their employees in this new world. As a result of basic policies implemented to protect the health of their team, many leaders have discovered the benefits and ease of working-from-home policies and enhanced video conferencing in lieu of face-to-face meetings.
Of course, with these new practices come new challenges. The difficulty of mentally separating work from home life will place a greater focus on the mental health practices of employees. Meanwhile, employees might also find that they are lacking the skills needed to be successful in a digital-forward environment where self-motivation is key.
Discovering a brave, new world
In short, consumers, companies and employees all around the world will soon be finding that although operations may resume very soon, businesses will definitely not be operating as usual for the foreseeable future. Instead, a greater emphasis on technologies and flexible working arrangements look to be the new norm, as well as all the broad changes and implications to operations and financial management. But above all, all parties must learn to adapt quickly in a post-pandemic society.
Thank you to the following leaders for their invaluable contribution to this study:
MICHAEL BATKO – Chief Executive Officer of Startmate
AJAY BHATIA – Managing Director of CarSales Australia
BELINDA CHENG – Director of EY Foundry (Sydney and Singapore)
ELIZABETH COMPTON – Chief Executive Officer of LanguageLoop
RODD CUNICO – Group Chief Executive Officer of CIRRUS Holdco
NINA DEVOUGE – Talent Acquisition Senior Director, APAC of Essence
JON DOBELL – APAC Innovation Leader of EY
JULIAN ELLIOTT – Chief Executive Officer of Covidence
GABRIELE FAMOUS – Former Chief Marketing and Brand Officer of Trustpilot
DEBORAH MASON – SVP Global Talent of PageUp
DOUG MORRIS – Chief Executive Officer of Sharesight
BEN PALMER – Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder of Genos
BRETT SAVILL – Chief Executive Officer of Quantify Technology
ROB SCOTT – Chief Executive Officer of Cygilant
ELLIE SMITH – VP of People and Culture of Who Gives a Crap
JON TANNER – Global Chief Executive Officer and Founder of The MitchelLake Group
LEE THOMPSON – Managing Director, ANZ of Nutanix
PETER URMSON – Chief Executive Officer of Spotzer
MARK WELLS – Chief Executive Officer of Cogent
DAVID WEINBERG – Co-Founder of Vervoe
ERIC WILSON – Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Xinja
ADDIE WOOTTEN – Chief Executive Officer of Smiling Mind
LES WIGAN – Chief Operating Officer of Kayo Sports