The Three Phases of Response to Covid-19

May 22nd, 2020

For HR professionals, the global crisis we’re facing has been particularly complicated, and comes with a steep learning curve. We’re contending with layoffs, furloughs, and the possibilities and problems involved in long-term remote work.

In the Josh Bersin Academy, we’re tackling these topics head-on, with a ton of new learning content, including the Remote Work Bootcamp. The following is a sample from one of our latest Resources. According to Josh, the fallout of the pandemic has largely unfolded in three phases. Here are the three phases of response to the crisis that he lays out:

  1. React: We came to grips with the new reality. Organizations set up cross-disciplinary SWAT teams, started to conduct daily crisis meetings, and the functions of HR, IT, Facilities, and Finance were tied together. Companies transitioned people out of infected locations, shut down retail and other branch locations, and started sending people home. Call it the emergency response phase—in which organizations around the world need to react swiftly and decisively in the face of immediate crisis.
  2. Respond: Companies started adjusting business practices to the new reality. In this stage, companies started to offer funding for home office and family care, tremendous amounts of online learning, changes to leave and performance management policies, and a massive increase in communications, listening, and wellbeing programs. Here we see the pivot—organizations thinking through how they can keep their teams running when all normal routines are disrupted, and their relevance may be in question.
  3. Return: Companies are coming to grips with the fact that some employees have to go back to work. And this phase is also a time for serious business transformation. Whether you like it or not, things are changing for some time to come. In some cases, this may mean safely strategizing a literal return—to an office, plant, or job site. In many other cases, the return will be more of an existential reckoning: organizations are going to have to think deeply about the services they offer and about what role they fill in a covid-era world. We will need to think through questions of physical safety—Can we keep our open-plan office? Do we need to divide workers into shifts? And of enterprise resilience—What problem are we best suited to solve right now? What do our employees and customers need most from us?

Here are a few outcomes (among many) that Josh anticipates seeing as the “Return” phase takes shape:

  • A massive boom in the low-touch and touchless economy. From shipping to food delivery to retail, we’ll see interest in formats that minimize contact.
  • The explosion of virtual and augmented reality. Technologies that create virtual experiences at home will finally fulfill their promise, and will be adopted for home exercise and wellness, virtual travel, and entertainment.
  • Dramatic shifts in transportation as people travel shorter distances and with less frequency. Public transit and auto will shrink, and we’ll see resurging interest in car-free town centers where pedestrians and cyclists are prioritized.

In the Josh Bersin Academy, we’re creating tons of new, in-depth learning about how companies and HR teams are responding to the pandemic, managing remote work, and handling updated policies and practices. The next session of our Remote Work Bootcamp starts on May 27. To dive deeper into everything HR teams need, right now, join the Josh Bersin Academy today.