Pandemic Forces Reimagination of Business Models, Magnifying 4 Key Areas of Focus

Learn to what extent Covid-19 catalyzed a workplace redesign that will endure long after the pandemic and give rise to a new world of work.

By Keith Ferrazzi, founder of Go Forward to Work

Has the global pandemic paved the way for a new way to work? Based on current trends, the answer is yes. To survive the COVID-19 pandemic, companies the world over have had to redesign operations.

According to the 2020 Dell Technologies Digital Transformation Index, 79 percent of the 4,300 senior directors and C-suite executives interviewed reported that they reinvented their business model as a result of the disruption caused by the pandemic.

Of course, dealing with vicissitudes isn’t new—whether they be social, technological, political. But how companies respond moving forward will define a new era in business. Evidence suggests that the black swan of our time has provided the impetus organizations need to embark upon an audacious upgrade. Indeed, 89 percent of business executives believe that if their companies survive the upheaval, they’ll emerge a stronger digital business.

Through our global research effort Go Forward to Work, we are tracking a trend towards a different way of working altogether. The business model redesign has led to a workforce redesign, with virtual work sculpting the rebuild. The organizations that are doing it right aren’t just trying to translate in-person work to a virtual avatar. They’re capitalizing on next-gen opportunities, envisioning a new paradigm—more rooted in the virtual world—and reinventing how work is done.

Since the launch of Go Forward to Work in April 2020, our research efforts have shown four primary focus areas for global business leaders. These areas have come to the forefront during the pandemic, but will have lasting implications for businesses.

1. Inclusion and Collaboration

Moving to virtual systems has expanded many companies’ opportunities to communicate faster and more effectively, source talent, and widen their reach.

Enterprises like Unilever crowdsourced financial plans for 2021. In the past, that process would have been held very tightly by less than 20 people. The new landscape is discarding old fiefdoms and inviting leaders across the world to participate.

Similarly, in traditional collocated work, people tend to stay within their core team. But, in a world where all team members have access to more information, partnership opportunities can expand, too.

We’ve seen that the way to collaborate and recover most effectively is to co-elevate. In other words, all parties are interested in “going higher together.” They support one another to accomplish personal goals through value exchange, so they can achieve outcomes faster inside one shared mission.

We’re seeing this in organizations like LyondellBasell Industries, which have significantly altered how they nurture vendor relationships. They’re focused on bringing outside partners more deeply into their community and redefining vendor relationships. This type of “teaming out” collaboration with external partners creates a robust support ecosystem and generates new growth opportunities fast.

2. Agility

Speed has always been a business imperative. Even more so in the wake of the pandemic. Many teams have moved to an agile sprint model for project management, which has allowed them to function more effectively in crisis mode.

Agile sprints break down large projects down into smaller work targets that teams focus on and tackle in short spurts of time, such as one-week spans. At the end of each short timeframe, the team reviews its progress and bottlenecks. Then, they iterate further, so the next week of work is more efficient.

At Go Forward to Work, we’ve seen agile sprints enable businesses to transform quickly and minimize risk.

3. Foresight

Despite early warning signs, COVID-19 caught many companies flat-footed. Chinese subsidiaries shut down weeks before the pandemic hit in the West. These early insights could have helped many companies put contingencies in place. After all, we live in a global economy. Viruses don’t halt at country borders—nor do the implications of our business decisions. Thankfully now, more business leaders are thinking globally and making foresight a prominent focus.

For instance, we’re seeing companies set up listening posts to detect and assess risk continually and assign responsibility to each member of their executive team for specific elements of risk, whether they be competitive or geopolitical. These types of plans will help executive teams decide which elements warrant scenario planning.

4. Resilience

Today’s organizations work with employee engagement metrics. Similar measurements will no doubt emerge with regards to resilience. There is much ground to cover on the topic, and companies are just beginning to crack that code.

As our work at Go Forward to Work has shown, the capacity to learn and adapt is fast becoming the most enduring skill for all workers to hone. We’ve moved into an era where the resilient worker will no longer be a rarity. Resilience as an employee will become the foremost requirement.

Winning Companies Post-Pandemic

These four factors aren’t new, but they’ve taken on new dimensions in the post-pandemic landscape. Business leaders have always been hungry for better approaches to running their business and delivering value. But that hunger hasn’t always translated into a new diet, until now.

In this new epoch, a growing cohort of executives and entrepreneurs across the world is committing their organization to change and accelerating the pace of their digital transformation because they know, firsthand, how their world can shift in an instant.

About Keith Ferrazzi
Keith Ferrazzi is an American entrepreneur and recognized global thought leader in collaborative sciences and the future of work. As chairman of Ferrazzi Greenlight and its Research Institute, he is an executive team coach to some of the most prominent organizations in the world.
Dell Technologies is a sponsor of Go Forward to Work, a think tank of business leaders convened by Ferrazzi, that is committed to revolutionizing work and sharing best practices beyond this critical inflection point of 2020.