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Four critical ways business has been changed by COVID-19

Four critical ways business has been changed by COVID-19


Not only are we seeing opportunities for emerging economies to become more prevalent, but on the workforce front, there is an accelerated focus on sustainability.

The CEMS Guide to Leadership in a Post-COVID-19 World outlines a series of recommendations to help leadership development professionals meet post-pandemic challenges, developed after research among 1,711 CEMS Alumni and corporate partners from 71 countries. This included 93 respondents from Asia, 16 from ANZ region, and 1,425 from Europe.

Overall, it found that for 87% of respondents, COVID-19 has profoundly affected their business and teams. Close to a quarter (23%) believe these changes will be permanent. A majority of respondents were concerned about the negative impact of COVID-19 on revenue and employment, the loss of business prospects in the short term, exporting and pricing falling because of the drop in demand and even the collapse of certain industries along with an upswing in mergers and acquisitions.

When they were asked about the principal changes that would occur as a result of the pandemic, four central themes emerged: new markets, new ways of communicating, new ways of working and new attitudes to work. These are explained in more detail below:

New markets: From global to local

  • Supply chains will shift, with more of a focus on local and loyal clients.
  • There will be a rebalancing of global and local, as there will be less chances to trade and travel globally, with a renewed focus on local production.
  • The crisis will present the opportunity for emerging economies to become more prevalent.
  • There will be an accelerated focus on sustainability within business, particularly reducing carbon footprint due to wide travel restrictions.

New ways of communicating: From face-to-face to digital

  • Companies will have to employ new, different methods of business development globally if they are to be successful.
  • Networking, and relationship building with colleagues and clients in other countries will mainly be conducted through digital platforms.
  • Leaders will be required to manage relationships remotely and virtually.
  • There will be less opportunities for face-to-face contact with clients and colleagues based in other countries.

Broadly speaking, respondents believed they would continue to communicate with international colleagues as regularly as they did before the crisis or more frequently.

  • 46% believed they would communicate as regularly as before.
  • Interestingly, 35% believed they would communicate even more regularly. 
  • 44% believed the quality of relationships would be the same.
  • 33% believed the quality of relationships would suffer.
  • 23% believed the quality of relationships would actually improve.

New ways of working: From fixed to flexible, office to anywhere

  • There will be more chances for remote working and for some this change will be permanent.
  • Workplace cultures will need to change, with more emphasis on openness and empathy.
  • Work will have to be ‘smarter’ with more focus on flexible working, work/life balance and purpose.

New attitudes towards work: From tried-and-tested to agile and resilient

  • Companies will be presented with the chance to help customers develop new solutions through innovative digital methods.
  • More creativity and agility will be required from employees to seize growth opportunities.
  • There will be a need for faster decision-making and greater resilience from leaders.

Photo / Shutterstock

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