Change Management In A Post COVID-19 World
We are going through a global health crisis of unprecedented dimensions. Although the force of the pandemic has abated in many parts of the world, the threat of the next wave is always looming. That’s why there is a cautious approach at every level. Organizations are keen to get going again but the impact of COVID-19 has ensured that things will never be the same again for them.
Change management is a tool that organizations must embrace to adapt to changed circumstances.
Preparation for a new kind of approach must precede office reopening. A human-centric work environment and hybrid teams will be part of the new normal. Organizations must be ready to accept this and also empower employees by allowing them to choose where and how they work.
The biggest impact of COVID-19 is on the people. That’s why it becomes vital for organizations to focus on the well-being of employees and their safety.
The Changing Response to Business Management
The response of business leaders to the developing situation has been changing steadily.
Business agility and digital transformation were high on the to-do list before the pandemic struck us. Later, the focus dramatically shifted to employee safety and regulatory compliance in the immediate aftermath of the first wave of COVID-19.
As we saw vaccinations developed and governments gradually finding effective ways of controlling the spread of the pandemic, businesses responded by looking for ways and means of continuing and sustaining operations. They also ensured compliance with the changing regulatory norms. Remote working became the norm, and virtual collaborations replaced office meetings.
What a Future Organization Will Look Like
The COVID-19 situation offers both opportunities and challenges for business leaders. Progressive organizations are aiming to transform their working and even their business models instead of merely reacting to the situation.
The pandemic will also force multiple transformations in the working of an organization. They need to differentiate a change management strategy. Businesses must incorporate elements such as clear and consistent communication and training to make employees understand and sync with the new norm. They must learn to accept and adopt new working methods they never envisaged earlier.
A change management strategy must include the following vital initiatives:
Remodel Work Practices
The unexpected success of remote working has proven that activities and processes that were never in the realm of virtual working can be not only executed remotely but with stunning success. Many crucial business decisions happen over video conferencing with teams. This is something that no one ever thought was possible during normal times.
The pandemic has shown organizations how to recast processes and demarcate those areas of business that require the physical presence of team members and those that can be managed remotely.
Organizations must look at the roles of employees from a value delivery viewpoint. They can segment these responsibilities as completely remote, hybrid remote, and onsite. These tasks can then be allocated to the appropriate staff.
These are new areas for the decision makers and require an effective change management strategy. It can help to understand the impact on employees in terms of motivation and productivity.
Revamp the Work Setup
For the present generation that has not seen or experienced any pandemic, the COVID-19 situation has had an everlasting impact. They were in denial initially, believing it would affect everyone else but not them and their families. Then came acceptance, where they understood that this was a genuine threat that we all have to live with.
It has become imperative for businesses and more importantly business leaders to support employees through such critical and confusing times. Organizations must employ a change management strategy to provide them the right tools to deal with the uncertainties and motivate them to perform better in the new normal. Employees need training and encouragement to adapt to remote working, and to sync with the culture. They must also align with the goals of the organization even if they are working in a virtual mode.
Redesign the Workplace
As one of the key COVID-19 protocols entails social distancing, there has to be a change in the office structure to comply with the norms. The office layout may need a revamp to ensure proper social distancing and safety norms are followed. This will also significantly influence the way people collaborate and interact within the office and with those working remotely. Organizations must develop a work culture wherein no employee may feel targeted or unimportant, regardless of where they are working – onsite or remotely.
The best practices must be introduced and implemented for better collaboration, greater flexibility, and accountability. When executed perfectly, this can lead to progressive work culture and even better productivity.
Change Management – How to Manage It in the Best Way
The history of how we dealt with pandemics and other similar health-related challenges leaves no scope for doubt that we will overcome and defeat this one too. There will be major transformations in everything we do at the workplace, and this can create major challenges.
Change management must be introduced carefully by following the best practices. Some steps that need attention are the following:
- Setting up a change management department to oversee the smooth implementation and execution
- Bringing in and taking support of influencers and developing a team of change agents
- Adopting the best digital tools and platforms for smooth collaboration
- Using efficient communication systems
- Creating easy ways for connecting and collaborating during remote meetings
- Monitoring the progress of the plans and adjusting regularly to achieve success consistently
The pandemic has put a roadblock of sorts in the path of the smooth progress of most organizations. Survival and progress in such times can be achieved only by effective change management strategies. Leaders must find ways of breaking from the inertia and adapting to the new normal, regardless of the challenges they encounter along the way.
Each organization and its leaders will have to adopt different strategies to introduce changes in the way its teams/employees work and also in the manner in which its processes are implemented.
The organizational DNA needs reinvention and that must be powered by an effective change management program. The aim must be to create a safer work environment and encouraging use of seamless collaboration techniques that can take them closer to organizational goals.