Key actions for CHROs: Preparing for a new normal

By | 2 minute read | August 19, 2020

All around the globe, the COVID-19 pandemic has turned the unimaginable into the unavoidable. A return to “normal,” whenever it comes, will certainly be a different kind of normal. Though decision-making and acting with assurance has never been more challenging, what we do right now will define the future.

It’s time to prepare for the new normal. To help create a COVID-19 action guide for executives to build strategies and address new business challenges that come post-pandemic, the IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV) has published a framework of seven business imperatives in a new report: Beyond the great lockdown: Emerging stronger to a different normal.

The report outlines seven business imperatives to help your organization’s executive team prepare to address the new challenges that arise in the wake of COVID-19.

  1. Empower a remote workforce
  2. Engage customers virtually
  3. Enable remote access to everything
  4. Accelerate agility and efficiency
  5. Protect against new cybersecurity risks
  6. Reduce operational costs and enhance supply chain continuity
  7. Support health providers and government services

Today, I am focusing on imperative #1—helping talent leaders and Chief Human Resources Officers (CHROs) empower a remote workforce.

Empower an engaged and productive remote workforce

The work of the CHRO has never been more important—or more difficult. Sustaining communication, collaboration, capabilities and culture in a virtual operating model is now the work of HR leaders around the globe.

Empowering a healthy remote workforce goes beyond providing network-access tools and group-meeting software. Equipping employees to work productively outside a traditional office is also a cultural challenge. Leaders who focus on building trust, flexibility and resilience into an adaptable workforce culture are helping their employees be the best versions of themselves—both physically and mentally—whether they are working face-to-face or screen-to-screen.

One of the essential first steps must be addressing employee health and safety. New IBV research indicates that employees working from home are most concerned about their health and the health of their families.

The next step for companies is the move from crisis mode to a different normal, with the return to the workplace an inevitable hurdle to address on the way. An IBV survey of global executives currently in the field indicates that they expect to have two-and-a-half times more remote workers two years from now than they had prior to COVID-19. Talent leaders and CHROs must develop long-term plans that span re-entry and remote work while the world moves toward a different normal.

The framework outlined in the IBV report is practical and actionable, offering a set of activities that should be addressed immediately, if they haven’t been already. It also highlights longer-term consequences and persistent changes that COVID-19 has brought to industries, companies and individual habits. These fundamental changes require action now to ensure companies adapt to what will be a new, different kind of normal.