In the first of our series of interviews with HR executives discussing the COVID-19 crises, we sat down (virtually…) with Adam Levy to discuss this topic from his perspective. As a key leader in a global market research company, Levy was able to provide insights on a macro level, as Nielsen is continuously tracking the impact of COVID-19.
Q: Can you describe how you realigned your TA operations in light of COVID 19?
A: We have refocused the team to focus on 1) ramping up workforce planning efforts, 2) focusing on understanding future needs and difficult to fill roles, and 3) building pipelines for those roles.
As the team is working on new policies ahead of an eventual return to work and reopening of offices, we came to realize that companies cannot rush to get back to normal, because “normal” as we know it will no longer exist. We really need to be thoughtful in terms of what the new normal looks like”. That means being clear on essential vs. non-essential work, managing effective virtual orientation for new associates, and effectively recruiting in virtual format if you’re unable to have face-to-face contact.
In summary, it is getting to quickly understand what the new normal looks like, and how to get there as efficiently as possible.
Q: How have new work from home practices impacted your operation? Moving forward, do you plan to keep or expand work from home options for employees?
A: Working from home has worked extremely well, in part due to the company’s already flexible work arrangements. I’ve seen the level of innovation and ingenuity really increase since COVID, we have learned that we are able to do things that we never thought that we could, smarter and faster.
Q: What new technologies have you adopted due to Corona?
A: Having an already virtual environment in place prior to the COVID-19 lockdown meant that we were already adept at conference technologies, such as Google Hangouts. In times like these, being innovative ahead of a crisis has enabled a seamless transition for a remote workforce.
Q: Do you think your industry will be impacted positively or negatively from the crisis?
A: I think that every industry will be impacted by COVID, certainly from a financial perspective, and I believe that the long term impacts of COVID from an economic perspective are going to be significant. However, I tend to look at the glass as being half-full, and I do think that items like speed to innovation, ability to re-assess real estate strategies and footprints, and looking closely at essential vs. non-essential work is going to benefit industries across the board. I think that despite the obvious tragedies that come from a pandemic like this – there are going to be silver linings that come out of COVID-19 that are a bit more long-term.
Recovering from this crisis will not be easy. But smart leaders at top companies are focusing on how they can make their teams more efficient, and preparing to accommodate more flexible, virtual work environments. Innovation, along with the right technologies, will be key factors in adjusting to the “new normal” after COVID-19.