Lasting Business Success Requires Smart Decisions in a Crisis

Remote Locations, Working with Flexibility in Work From Anywhere Solutions. Software Developer using a laptop computer to design computer applications and software quality assurance analysts and testers in the living room at home.

The situation around COVID-19 evolved so rapidly that few organizations were able to effectively plan for stay-in-place orders and other virus mitigation efforts. Early on, expedited and ad hoc decisions focused on ensuring employees simply had the access and support they needed.

But as we continue to support employees and move forward, we all need to be mindful of how our decisions today can benefit the organization as we return to normalcy. As organizational and technology leaders, we are tackling a variety of issues related to the recent global health crisis. Examples include:

  • How we can mitigate risk while making decisions in a time of crisis and uncertainty?
  • What should we consider when navigating the tension between long-term technical debt and short-term successes?
  • How can our business achieve speed and generate significant value by utilizing quick and cost-efficient tools?

Below are some of the ideas and insights that have come up during our recent virtual roundtable conversations about the challenges organizations are facing as a result of this coronavirus pandemic—and their solutions.

Communicate Regularly About Security

Communication is more essential than ever during a crisis. Strive for transparency and clarity in communications both internally and externally. A primary focus on internal communication, especially from an IT perspective, should be on security. Workers being at home, devices being on new networks, a rise in phishing threats related to the coronavirus pandemic and many other new challenges, regularly communicating with your teams about the importance of security is the right move.

In your communications, provide clear, actionable direction for employees. This is how you update your software. This is how you connect to the VPN. These are the types of emails to look out for. These are the tools we support (and who to talk to if you’re having trouble using them). These are some new threats we are seeing—and how to stay safe.

Always Seek Alignment

Another important facet of communication is to seek alignment on a method across teams to analyze risks and make decisions about new tools and processes that are being implemented in response to changing conditions. One effective way to achieve this is through daily huddles at the team level that can escalate up as needed. Many companies have also increased the frequency of leadership meetings, and some are even doing a daily leadership check-in.

Throughout our conversations, organizational leaders have expressed a feeling that they are bending rules, making faster decisions and being more creative about the new challenges they have been facing during the coronavirus pandemic. While it may feel uncomfortable, this is almost always the nature of innovation and progress. Keeping open lines of communication can maintain formal decision-making infrastructure without having to sacrifice speed.

Be Transparent and Candid, Especially in External Communication

With external communications, many brands are concerned about balancing the real value they can offer with the potential for seeming opportunistic during this crisis. Being clear and transparent about your intentions can go a long way toward finding the right message to your partners, customers, and prospects. If you have unique value to offer during this time, don’t be afraid to talk about it.

Rolling Out Brand New Tools and Solutions During a Crisis

When making large or long-term decisions during this time, stay future-minded. We all need to continue weighing the risks, costs, and long-term implications of any immediate shortcuts we are taking. But that doesn’t mean we don’t try anything new during a crisis. Consider utilizing free tools that could be used during this temporary disturbance. Encourage employees to get creative with ways to communicate and share information.

And if you’re investing in new tools or solutions, consider their long-term benefits over their temporary convenience. Try something new with a small test group before rolling it out to the entire organization. This can be an especially effective strategy if you can also create some onboarding documentation to share during the trial.

At the same time, organizations should be mindful that adopting a new tool at any time can be tricky and difficult. With current stress and anxiety levels, now may not be an ideal time to ask your entire workforce to adopt a new tool.

Managing IT Equipment for Remote Workers

Many organizations have tried to issue new equipment for employees to take home, while others have made compromises by sending employees home with their in-office desktop computers. For many organizations, this situation has revealed that they need to reconsider what types of equipment they issue for employees moving forward. For example, one organization mentioned issuing desktop equipment to employees who were highly unlikely to work remotely. As a result, they were unprepared for a large segment of their employees to make this necessary shift to working from home. They found a few temporary solutions (like leasing equipment) and are already considering how to think differently moving forward. They are evaluating a different investment strategy focused on laptops and mobile devices to mitigate potential future risks and increase their agility in the future.

Don’t Forget About Your People

Often, it’s easy to forget the human element in change management, whether it’s during a crisis or the regular course of business. We need each other right now, and business decisions will be stronger and more effective with buy-in, collaboration and clear communication.

Sometimes, a simple idea is a point around which the organization can rally during a time of crisis and uncertainty. What is at the heart of what you do? If you can answer that, it will guide decision-making across teams as they find ways to achieve that for themselves, the business, and consumers.

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