Open Assembly hosts a regular virtual meetup for members of our Collective — a group of global business and thought leaders in the future of work space. This week we pivoted our program and asked our community to share their insights and takeaways on what they’re experiencing due to the COVID-19 virus. We thought their answers would be relevant and useful to share with everyone, since we’re all in this together. Here are highlights from our conversation:
We are in a halo period. There’s been a brief uptick in productivity, with travel and events cancelled, so in general the market hasn’t come to terms with how severe the potential downturn is, says Seth Levine, Partner, Foundry Group. Terry Sydoryk, CEO, Chaordix agrees, noting that people have hunkered down at home and focused on the projects that are often hard to get to, creating a halo effect that has delayed the reality of what the long-term impact could be for business. Following this brief bump, business is predicted to drop off from there, in which companies will address spend.
Health-related economic downturns may rebound faster. Levine predicts that, despite the disruption that will happen during the next couple of weeks, many companies will emerge from this stronger than before. He is advising people to be cautious and concerned about cash over growth this year. Balaji Bondili, Head of Deloitte Pixel, mentioned the possibility that there may be a swifter economic rebound from the COVID-19-related economic crash, when compared to past recessions. A public-health driven event could rebound in as quickly as three to four months.
Old systems are maxed – new ways and tools will emerge. Dean Bosche, Head of Partnerships, Toptal, says there have been no operational changes for companies like his that were already working 100 percent remote. Companies not used to a remote work environment, but homebound now, are struggling with corporate servers and tools that don’t have the capacity for efficient group sharing. Workers are creating workarounds by using new systems. Steve Rader, Deputy Director, CoECI, NASA, predicts lasting change from the shifts we’ve experienced over the last couple of weeks as people adapt new protocols, for example, telemedicine. Even nimble companies, used to the latest tools, are exploring using them in new ways. Ty Montague, CEO, Co: Collective, share that they’ve had success running full workshops through video conferencing.
Lean in with integrity. Though you may have the infrastructure, expertise and talent resources to help companies that are struggling right now, it’s important to be sensitive with outreach. Adam Sandlin, Head of Strategy and Go-to-Market, Topcoder, talked about really focusing on what support customers need right now. Sure, they may need to expand the work they’re doing with us but they may just need advice on the logistics and cultural aspects of working remotely.
Creative thinking leads to new opportunities for workers. It’s important during this time to find contingency opportunities for the workers who’ve suddenly found themselves out of a job, due to government closures, businesses shutting down, cancelled events, and travel bans. John Healy, Vice President and Managing Director, Kelly shared how he is finding new ways to deploy workers, for example, redeploying substitute teachers as online tutors for students and families suddenly needing to homeschool.
Personalized environments are strengthening work culture. In the midst of the chaos, a gentler business tone is emerging. Christian Cotichini, Cofounder, CEO, HeroX is finding that people are more organically accessible now than when physically in the office, and this is creating the right infrastructure to build a high-performance culture.
The best innovation happens when we are vulnerable. Even though this is a difficult time, there is also opportunity. Ryan Gill, CEO, Communo, is noticing that people often become more innovative when we are vulnerable. I talked about how to help companies learn from this time and create new organizational structures moving forward. What does a post-virus organization look like?
Time to be there for your clients and employees. Now, more than ever, the people you work with every day need you. Gill is using this time to make real connections with his employees, checking in with each person, not necessarily about work. Jin Paik, General Manager, Senior Researcher, the Laboratory of Innovation Science at Harvard (LISH) is noticing the need to create new avenues for community, given how norms for connecting have radically shifted. Dyan Finkousen, CEO Shoshin Works, Partner and COO The Platform Strategy Institute, agrees. “Now is the time for innovators and problem solvers and collaborators to shine,” she says, “This is a difficult economic time but a great opportunity for us to step up and help our enterprise partners come out the other side with a stronger foundation of open talent networks and problem-solving methodologies. We’ll put them in a position of greater strength going forward.”