The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly accelerated digitisation in all areas of life. Whether in private life, with a rapidly increasing acceptance of contactless card payments, or in the professional environment, with the abrupt change to remote work. What was previously considered a sign of modern work culture has suddenly become reality for many companies. The digitalisation of companies, intensified by the crisis, presents a range of opportunities for the future – but managers need to take action if they want to make the most of it.
The crisis has pushed companies into a phase of digital transformation, whether they were prepared for it or not. Those who have dealt with remote work, technical infrastructure or digital services at an early stage will now benefit, while stragglers are doing their best to catch up. However, it is not enough to simply provide your employees with tools such as Microsoft Teams or Slack. The work culture must also change. Employees need both empowerment and training to effectively adjust to decentralised work.
The digitalisation of many business areas is working unexpectedly well, which will likely see virtual solutions continue to play an important role in the future – in customer meetings, influencer events or press conferences, for example. Decision-makers looking to use the momentum of current changes to successfully drive the digital transformation of their company should implement the following measures.
1. Adapt management style to promote employee independence
The first experiences from the crisis have shown that employees are increasingly involved in driving and shaping the implementation of digital changes in their companies. Proactive suggestions for improving internal work and communication processes, the corporate culture or even for introducing new digital services are not uncommon. To make the most of this initiative, managers and executives should gear their leadership style towards giving employees the freedom they need and specifically promoting their new independence – through virtual working groups with experts from different locations, as an example. This provides a great opportunity for knowledge sharing across locations and countries.
2. Use digital tools for sales and internal collaboration
Social distancing is a huge challenge for everyone, especially the sales department. To continue to be successful in the current situation, companies should look to provide their employees with digital sales tools, such as digital assistants or sales hubs that provide easy access to all materials in an up-to-date and digitally friendly form. These tools allow for more effective conversations with partners and customers. To enable a quick changeover, companies should immediately start compiling all necessary materials, such as brochures or information graphics, and converting them to digital assets.
In times of COVID-19, successful, decentralised cooperation within companies requires both functioning digital infrastructure and training and guidance on how employees can use these tools effectively. Managers can use practical examples and best practices from other areas and countries to specifically point the way forward.
3. Ensure the resilience of the organisation
In the current situation, honest and transparent communication is rewarded with growing employee loyalty, strengthening the bond between employee and company. For example, 70 per cent of those surveyed in the special report "Trust and the Corona Virus" from the Edelman Trust Barometer 2020 expected their own employer to provide regular communications and updated information on the crisis. Managers must be prepared for this need for information to continue.
In the "new normality" of decentralised working, managers must also pay attention to the wellbeing of their employees if they want to maintain productivity, loyalty and motivation. To this end, proximity to employees in the home office is essential, which can be established and maintained in various ways – whether through new communication formats, adapted meeting routines or offers adapted to the crisis.
If you have any questions, please contact Felix Müller, Director Digital Transformation: