2020 was like no other in recent history. COVID-19 took everyone off-guard, affecting the world’s population in all aspects of daily life. Readjusting to meet the challenges in operations, management, and workforce leadership during this pandemic requires new strategies for business leaders.
As we move forward in 2021 and the not-so-distant future in a post-pandemic world, it’s clear that everything won’t instantly be returning to the way it was before the COVID-19 outbreak. There appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel with existing vaccines and new ones in the works. But does this mean that offices and conference rooms will soon be full? It’s unlikely that everything will be as it once was anytime soon.
These perilous times have only made it more clear how business leadership is more critical than ever. With extra strains on employees, business leadership is about to undergo a major transformation.
Working From Home Isn’t Just Becoming More Accepted: It’s the New Normal
Prior to the pandemic, working from home was starting to become more acceptable, but it was still considered taboo in some companies. Many employers and leaders did not believe that their employees could be as productive at home as they were in the office. However, when the initial pandemic lockdowns went into effect, most non-essential workers throughout the country were ordered to work from home.
After working from home for such an extended period, however, an incredible thing happened — many companies realized that their businesses not only continued to run smoothly, but their employees were even more productive and motivated working from the comfort of home. The freedom and flexibility that telecommuting provides is a huge advantage, but there are disadvantages as well. For some employees, working from home has resulted in isolation, socialization challenges, and decreased productivity.
Once companies receive the green light to return to business as usual, they will be faced with a decision — should they stay remote? Should they make their employees return to the office, even if telecommuting has proven to be effective? In this new environment, creating programs that promote engagement and productivity and combining the best of both worlds by offering options to work on-site and at home is going to be a key initiative for business leaders. Transparency and communication are two important components to keep your employees engaged, productive, and motivated.
Health and safety concerns are also key factors to consider when deciding whether to resume in-person operations. Keeping a remote working environment in place is one way to eliminate unnecessary health and safety risks when it comes to contracting or spreading COVID-19. Business leaders will have to balance the potential stresses on the workforce of returning to the workplace against the potential stresses of isolation and remote management for work from home. For companies that do ultimately decide to resume working onsite again, even if it’s just temporarily, they should implement several safety measures to protect workers. For instance, businesses with rigid sick leave policies will need to be more relaxed and insist that anyone who feels ill remain at home. In addition, implementing mask mandates, staggering schedules, and creating social distancing guidelines can help workers feel more comfortable about coming to an office again.
A Major Shift in Business Leadership and Business Leadership Style
This new working environment isn’t just affecting how employees work — it is also affecting how managers and others in leadership roles are guiding the employees within their organizations. Management By Walking Around, or MBWO, is a popular leadership technique that many prefer to use as their primary management style. Now that this is no longer possible for many individuals in leadership roles, they will need to adopt a new style of business leadership. While this can be overwhelming for those set in their ways and aren’t used to other forms of leading a team, enrolling in the right business training program can help them prepare for success.
As a leader, you may also be responsible for implementing new and innovative approaches to grow your business, but there are pros and cons to doing this just as things start to return to normal. In 2021, business leaders need to be clear about how much risk they are willing to take when considering innovation in their business models and operations. Is 2021 a year to regroup and consolidate the changes of 2020? Is it a year to remain reactive to the external pressures on the business? Is it the right time to take risks when it comes to reimagining the business around innovation, creating new adaptations to the business environment? Embarking on an innovation program but refusing to commit to it because of risk aversion is a formula for disaster, but so is refusing to innovate if the external business environment has made your existing ways of doing business obsolete.
Learning to Embrace Change
As you adapt your approach to business leadership in a post-pandemic era, the new skills you acquire can also help you make critical decisions. These new workplace changes mean that as a leader, you’ll need to promote ways for people in the organization to continue to see each other as people, rather than images and voices on a video call, or names on an email distribution list.
Embracing change management processes is part of managing the balance between risk and innovation. Whether change is part of your strategic plan or is forced on you from the outside, navigating that change successfully requires understanding and implementing an effective change management process. An important part of that process is communicating the need for change to the team members and managing their anxiety over how the change will affect them.
While these changes are happening, it is also important to remember that strong leaders create confident and hard-working employees, and that they should do what they can to ensure they’re also adapting well to these modifications. By helping them cope with the stress and anxiety that they may be experiencing and offering help and support where possible, managers can ensure that they are still leading a productive team.
The Best Time to Reskill or Learn Something New Entirely
With all of the changes that have taken place over the past year, it is the perfect time for business leaders to review their goals, and put a plan into place that can enable them to reach these goals. With remote working being so commonplace now, learning from home has also never been easier, and there are endless virtual training programs designed to meet any organization’s specific goals. From web design to development to digital marketing and project management, there are online training programs available that can help your team become stronger, better, motivated, and more efficient. As a business leader, there are also training programs that can help you adapt to the new changes in business leadership.
Embracing Digital Transformation
Although it is important to humanize the interaction between employees and colleagues, it is also crucial to recognize that digital transformation will remain a driving force. Businesses have been forced to adopt digital business models that they may have been unfamiliar with in the past. In many cases, companies have discovered that the new digital processes give them greater flexibility, efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and responsiveness to customers than their traditional business models did. Business leaders need to examine the parts of their businesses that have not yet undergone a digital transformation and consider whether and how to move them to digital models.
Talent Acquisition No Longer a Top Priority
Talent acquisition was a crucial component for most organizations, but since the COVID-19 outbreak, it has taken a backseat. Instead, business leaders throughout the country are focusing on workplace safety for those who have returned to the office. They must comply with government-enforced regulations while ensuring employees, customers, and stakeholders that they are taking health and safety very seriously.
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Embrace Online Training Today and Keep up With the Latest Trends Coming up in 2021
Because talent acquisition is no longer a top priority for most companies and learning new skills from home is easier than ever, now is a great time for business leaders to get training and provide upskilling to employees in online training programs. With all the choices available, employers can have their workers learn entirely new skills to fulfill much-needed roles within the organization. In turn, employees can learn new skills and grow in their careers, so it is a win-win for everyone.
At Simplilearn, we offer a wide variety of programs to help your team succeed in the digital economy for learners at any career level. Simplilearn designed these programs around industry roles, the skill sets each role requires, and the learning path to impart the required skill sets to learners. Whether you are looking to upskill, reskill, learn about business leadership, or provide the perfect training tools for your employees, we are confident that we’ll have the program to meet your organization’s specific needs.
Get ready to take 2021 by storm and make this year your company’s strongest year yet!