A few weeks ago, Nicholas LePan published “Visualizing the History of Pandemics”; the article unpacked the history of disease and outbreaks and draws our attention to the direct relation between globalisation, through trade and the birth of civilisations, with larger cities, “more exotic trade routes, and increased contact with different populations of people, animals, and ecosystems” to the spread of pandemics.

​As a global population, we have never been immune to mass-scale change. As a global workforce, many intellectuals and academics, scientists and economists, mathematicians and strategists alike, have been warning of our unpreparedness to manage mass-scale change whilst the tools of digitalisation exist and the research and developments in understanding the importance of culture and its impact on profits has never been more defined.

According to Dina Gerdeman, writing for Harvard Business School, there are ways that leaders can support employees who are working remotely and during an unprecedented and uncertain time; we have highlighted some of our favourites.


Communicate Clearly and be Decisive

Leaders should communicate how employees’ work priorities should change as a result of business disruptions. These communications serve as a foundation to the workforce who understand that the situation is recognised by the business and that leaders are responsive to the changes which are occurring.


Be Extra Flexible

What Harvard professors are calling a ‘new frontier of flexibility’, with employers needing to understand the additional challenges faced by employees whom now are sharing their spaces with their families, pets and a menagerie of individual situational disruptions, it’s important for leaders to have the conversation with employees and understand their individual challenges.


Adjust Work Expectations

Evaluation and trust become the main components in understanding how to adjust expectations, communication solidifies that adjustment and consistency paired with flexibility allows for the on-going management of those expectations. Employers need to evaluate the ability of employees to manage their tasks and workload and adjust expectations where necessary. Adjusting expectations could also positively impact employees work identity.


Rethink Meetings 

Meetings should be used to get things done and alternatives to long and formal meeting structures need to be considered. Whilst sticking to an agenda does truly impact the overall efficiency, and it cannot be denied that we should not throw all formalities to the wind, employers and managers should consider alternatives such as short and sweet huddles or water-cooler conversations provided by various digital platforms.


Focus on Outcomes Rather than Monitoring Activities

Establishing work goals and monitoring individual performance against these outputs will allow for more congruent efforts, not necessarily affected at the same time, which is where the flexibility and individualisation process, albeit for a collective goal, comes in.

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Additional Reading

The New Rules for Remote Work: Pandemic Edition, Dina Gerdeman (30 March 2020) – https://hbswk.hbs.edu/item/the-new-rules-for-remote-work-pandemic-edition


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