Companies are revisiting the notion that employees need to be present in the office as tens of millions of people in China and elsewhere switch to home working to stem the spread of the Coronavirus, says Egon Zehnder consultant Simone Stebler in an interview with CNN.
“What we’re facing right now is one of the biggest experiments in terms of working from home,” says the Zürich-based consultant. “It will certainly trigger a mindset shift.”
Employees are largely embracing the move. As millions switch to working from home, companies will boost their technology links, predicts Stebler. “We need to take this as a learning opportunity for companies to set in place the technologies that will enable more people to work remotely in a very efficient way.”
There are, admittedly, certain drawbacks to working remotely, such as fewer opportunities for face-to-face interactions with colleagues or customers. And if the Coronavirus crisis is prolonged it will further dent GDP.
However, crises such as these can also spell a leadership opportunity. Good leaders show their true colors in a catastrophe and emerge stronger thereafter. The most valuable lesson learned from the 2003 Sars crisis was “don’t put the bottom line before people’s health and safety”, says Stebler. Those top leaders who successfully navigated the crisis via effective communication with employees and those expats who chose to stay behind with their teams were able to strengthen workforce commitment, loyalty and productivity.
By putting people first and profit second, the Coronavirus can teach leaders how to lead better, as other crises have already illustrated, concludes Egon Zehnder.
Or as one leader of a global hotel chain summarized, “Focus on the most important asset that any business has – the physical safety of people first – and then worry about collateral damage and the P&L next.”
Virus leads to worldwide experiment in working from home, Ana Maria Montero interviewt Simone Stebler, Beraterin bei Egon Zehnder, für CNN Money Switzerland, 02. März 2019.
Das gesamte Interview im Video