“To say that life is an adventure is an understatement,” Adam Johnston, country leader and managing director at Protiviti Hong Kong. “We need to turn our attention away from getting things back to normal, but instead embrace and adjust for the new reality and how it will impact the workforce and the way we work.”
As companies follow the direction of the authorities, apply pandemic protocols and put their response plans into action, Protiviti offers the following suggestions for Hong Kong leaders to consider:
Keep employees informed constantly
Employers should help to convey empathy to employees and be forward-looking to give everyone an idea as to what to expect in terms of the duration of the crisis and what’s happening around the company, said Johnston.
Companies should support employee social interactions and be comfortable expressing the needs of the company, he said, adding that any fear employees may be experiencing over the future state of the company and how it will impact their financial well-being can be devastating to morale.
Foster an environment for new leaders to emerge in these extraordinary times
As employees are battle-tested in this unique environment, some will flourish and provide leadership as everyone strives to adapt and support one another using the collaboration tools that companies have available, said Protiviti.
“Watch for the leaders who emerge in this environment as it demonstrates “improvisation in the field” at the highest level,” Johnston noted. “These individuals are the ones to keep an eye on when the sun finally rises.”
Take advantage of the opportunity to learn about working remotely
Whether deployed selectively or mandated outright, this is nonetheless an opportunity to learn how to make this model work effectively and efficiently, Protiviti observed.
Engage everyone, ask for feedback, learn as an organization and emphasize sufficient virtual facetime among colleagues and team leaders, the firm added.
Focus on and connect with customers
It is time to differentiate by demonstrating the kind of flexibility and agility with customers that they will appreciate and admire, Protiviti pointed out.
“The bottom line, there is a big opportunity here to build deeper relationships,” Johnston said. “Such alternatives might include changing priorities in real-time, leveraging technology and collaboration tools, and reworking delivery schedules and project plans.”
Make sure you have the right tools
For highly mobile organisations, this transition is relatively seamless as they already have in place proven platforms which can support communications, project management, document sharing and workflow, according to Protiviti.
However, for organisations that are more anchored to offices, shifting to remote working can be a big change and a lesson about overlooking the importance of digital transformation, the firm noted.
Companies should be revaluating now, because even when the situation simmers, the need for transformation will persist, Protiviti advised.
Make it a priority to regroup periodically
The importance of virtual touchpoints cannot be over-emphasised, according to the company.
“This is where collaboration tools and consistent catch-ups become key, enabling everyone to meet at least weekly to stay in touch and ensure everyone is on the same page for project deliverables and timelines,” said Johnston. “This is where collaboration tools and consistent touchpoints come in.”
The health crisis presents a test of leadership and resiliency, said Protiviti.
“Prioritising and reprioritising tasks and activities is going to be a necessary focus for most organisations over the coming weeks and months,” Johnston advised. “Keeping teams focused on the greatest issues and risks when so many things present an opportunity for distraction is the name of the game.”