Michael Kearney, advisory managing partner for Deloitte & Touche LLP and host of the “Resilient Conversations” podcast, recently interviewed three Deloitte Consulting LLP principals about how business leaders can enable a resilient recovery through a successful reboot: Gopi Billa, who leads market sensing and scenario planning; Asif Dhar, who leads the overall strategic direction for the life sciences and health care practices; and Jonathan Pearce, who leads workforce strategies.
Kearney: What are the biggest priorities for organizations as they think about a reboot?
Dhar: Many business leaders are facing significant uncertainty and trying to determine the best course of action. Health and safety are top of mind for all executives, no matter what type of business they are in. An outbreak of the virus in either a community or a company can jeopardize business continuity, so organizations are prioritizing resiliency.
An effective reboot often requires various stakeholders—including business leaders, employees, customers, government, and public health agencies—to be in sync with one another. The nature of the contagion may change as pharmacological interventions and potential vaccines are developed, so companies need to work dynamically with each stakeholder. Additionally, there are increases in confirmed COVID-19 infections in multiple regions across the United States. This highly dynamic environment requires businesses to implement systems that help employees manage through a range of situations. These are not simply nice-to-have priorities—they are critical to the continuity of the business.
What are the strategic questions leaders should ask themselves as they plan to reboot?
Pearce: The first question—When can the organization reboot?—depends on several factors, including the outbreak status of the surrounding state or municipality, the mandates from a legal and industry perspective, and customer sentiment. The second big question—Is the organization ready to reboot?—dives into micro conditions around the company’s financial resiliency, supplier risk, supply chain, and worker sentiment. The third question—How does the company reboot?—can involve dividing the workforce into cohorts and determining when those groups can return to work. It also can require developing and implementing protocols around testing and monitoring employees as well as managing the physical work environment for cleanliness and space density, among other factors. The final question—How can the organization use the reboot to support a long-term recovery?—addresses the need for leaders to determine how the organization will monitor success and enable workers to be productive and comfortable.
How can organizations govern the reboot process?
Billa: Governance is important but also challenging, because the reboot process is multidimensional and affects the entire organization, including the workforce, operations, brand, and IT. Cross-functional collaboration led by the C-suite is critical. Many companies also have significant customer and supplier relationships to consider. An effective reboot often requires leaders to examine supply chain and distribution impacts, both upstream and downstream.
‘An effective reboot often requires various stakeholders, including business leaders, employees, customers, government, and public health agencies, to be in sync with one another.’
—Asif Dhar, principal, Deloitte Consulting LLP
What are specific steps leaders can take as they plan to reopen their workplaces?
Billa: The first step is for companies to really understand their employees, including their location and the nature of their work. How do these employees view their own risk in going back to a physical workplace? The second step is tactical. Every state has different reopening mandates and guidelines, and business leaders may need to understand what that means for their company and employees. The third step addresses facilities and infrastructure. Executives can consider, for example, what changes are necessary to common areas such as elevators and restrooms. Finally, a successful reboot demands trust and transparency. Employees should understand how the reboot plan benefits them and the organization overall.
Dhar: It’s important for employers to create a journey that accounts for different employee cohorts or personas and makes sense for each employee. They can consider the nature of community and organizational transmission, the jobs employees perform, the risks of physical proximity, the steps that could limit exposure, and the unforeseen consequences of mitigation. Organizations can take steps to have conversations with employees, understand their needs, and offer information so the employees feel empowered throughout the reboot.
What tools can business leaders use to reduce safety risks for workers?
Pearce: The needs of a frontline customer worker are very different from those of a supply chain or manufacturing worker, an office worker, or a call center worker. Business leaders can develop a plan based on workforce segments. It’s critical to prioritize the work that is most disrupted at the moment—whether a return to a physical workplace or a different approach to remote work is required. Workforce analytics tools can accelerate the decision-making process during strategic plan development. They can provide rapid insights into workers’ perspectives on safety risks and customer impacts.
Dhar: Employers may have ERP, CRM, human capital, badging, security, space allocation, and scheduling solutions. The problem is, none of those really connect the employee and their experience along the entire workplace health journey. Many employers are starting to consider how to deliver mobile or home-based enhanced screening support so employees can understand if their symptoms are consistent or inconsistent with COVID-19. Employee engagement and case management tools that provide contact center support, recommendations, and health education are becoming increasingly necessary. Employees should understand how their work environment has changed, feel empowered to get their jobs done efficiently, and be healthy and safe while doing them. Employers, meanwhile, should think about enabling that environment with a unified and cohesive employee experience.
Any last thoughts for leaders who are overseeing a reboot?
Pearce: It’s critical to start by listening. Mandating a return can create safety risks as well as liability risks. An ideal model is one in which employees can opt to return to the workplace, confident that protocols, services, and support will keep them as safe as possible.
—by Sharon Goldman, writer, Deloitte Insights in The Wall Street Journal
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Carlos Castan | DataWorks LLC
For companies that are beginning to reopen while the COVID-19 pandemic continues, small or incremental changes may not be sufficient for operating in a changed landscape. Indeed, as confirmed infection rates rise in some U.S. communities, it is clear that corporations are facing a highly dynamic situation. Many organizations may decide that an overarching reboot is in order, focused on how to manage physical facilities, respond to changing infection rates, innovate with digital solutions, and meet the needs of employees who are continuing to work remotely.
Please see rest of article from Deloitte Insights/Wall Street Journal for more information.