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“Keeping It Together” during COVID

COVID-19 Lessons Learns - Communications, Leadership, Health & Well-being

As we are weathering this difficult, persistent pandemic, of unknown duration, we are learning.

We have stumbled, and we have struggled, particularly on the people side, and specifically with our students, our essential workers, itinerant employees and visible minorities - many of them keeping our families, our institutions and our places of work running.

For those of us still in business, (that have not yet packed-it-in or had no choice but to pack it in) we may fall into a couple of broad categories. The first group are organizations caught in the sweaty exercise of survival, having business models closely tied to in-person group activity, and mass gatherings (such as hospitality, travel, leisure, spectator sports). For them, waiting it out is the primary strategy, while tweaking, here and there, to keep afloat.

Organizations at the other end of the spectrum seem to be relatively OK, and continue to operate, if not thrive, by leveraging and exploiting their business models (on-line sellers, couriers, construction, telecommunications, health care). They have likely made some adjustments to suit the personal safety requirements of their staff, but mostly continue in some advanced form of “business-as-usual” operation, sometimes even finding ways to expand.

However, the majority of businesses are in the middle. They are significantly affected, and are either obligated to carry-on, or are compelled to carry-on, flexing, and adapting business models or operations, while grappling with one or more of these continuing challenges:

  1. How to continue to attract customers, and serve them, in a convincingly safe & comfortably social-distanced manner?

  2. How to accommodate the availability and safety of employees?

  • The ones that need to work together and collaborate with other employees

  • The ones that produce work in an inside environment

  • The ones that work face-to-face and serve clients in-person

  • The ones that work on-site in accordance with the nature of their operations.

It is extremely important to renew our commitment to our work environment and focus on key areas will help our businesses and employees through these strange times.

  • Health & Safety – Improving vigilance & crisis management processes. For example, how would a facility handle an add-on event, such as a sustained power outage differently, or alternatively, adjust access to a sudden lift of restrictions?

  • Communication – Keeping connected with colleagues and maintaining group connections. When our organizations are not playing the role of honest broker of COVID-19 advice, where does one turn to for up-to-the minute interpretations of government directives, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter…?

  • Leadership – Creating sponsorship - the secret sauce for helping staff through this! Doesn’t a fully-engaged, consistently communicative, and walk-the-talk (mask-wearing) executive fare better as a role model for everyone?

During this coronavirus outbreak (“the incident with no defined endpoint”), we have acquired new habits and have had to learn to build new ones, strive for new levels of equity and inclusion, expand support for employees in all aspects of both personal and team resilience that includes both the physical environment and the mental health of the team.

Written by: Steve Tower

Principal Consultant at Prompta Consulting Group

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