The Shape of Organizations Post-COVID-19

The world is witnessing dramatic transformations as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic. This applies to organizations that weren’t isolated from responding to these changes. An organization works to serve its customers, who will be more cautious, more aware, and more conscious and demanding. In return, the organization will have to make strenuous efforts to provide its products and services in innovative ways. Therefore, the Coronavirus crisis will teach organizations an important lesson in identifying and addressing challenges and weaknesses and ensure a good preparation for the future.
Many people, including leaders of several institutions, believe that the way of doing business and the shape of organizations will be different after the pandemic than it was before and here are the most important differences:

1. The Shift towards Automation and Remote-Work

Many organizations will adopt remote-work strategies instead of traditional office work, even partially and will remove barriers and expand the use of Internet applications in their businesses. Further, the demand for e-services will increase and organizations of the future will be more digital and carry out many of their internal work through digital platforms and applications and will provide many of their services to customers in the same way. This will assist in the boost of some sectors, such as distance learning, consulting, training and others, which could open new horizons for numerous organizations working in these sectors.

2. Physical Shape of the Organization

Organizations will use smaller office buildings, in specific locations separated geographically if needed, and this will strengthen remote management. Consequently, organizations will reduce their fixed assets, such as traditional offices and buildings, and will also achieve cost reduction for human resources. Organizations will depend on more flat structures, with direct communication channels. As for its meetings, it will be mainly virtual, perhaps travel will be of the highest necessities while maintaining a low cost of communication with high efficiency.

3. New Policies and Work Systems

Organizations will break bureaucratic restrictions and will become more resilient in formulating work policies. It will focus more on the level of productivity and quality of deliverables and will give employees more flexibility in working conditions and this will positively reflect on the balance between life and work. This will, of course, force organizations to reformulate the wage structure, recruitment and selection process and criteria and monitoring and evaluation policies.
4. Strategic Thinking and Agility

Thinking beyond the COVID-19 pandemic won’t be the same as it was before. Organizations will shift to a new pattern of strategic thinking and will be more cautious and sensitive to crises. There will be more ability to generate alternatives, build alliances and focus on scenario planning. Perhaps adopting a strategic agility approach will make organizations realize the importance of foresight in the future deeply, develop innovative strategies, besides adopt rapid and direct investment of the generated opportunities, such as, opening markets that didn’t exist before. Organizations will be more able to predict surprises. Experts attribute 96% of organizations’ failure during a crisis for the reason of not adopting strategic agility, as organizations cannot stop the waves, but they can learn to tame and even enjoy them.

5. Investing in Data, Research and Development

Organizations will be more interested in information systems, developing them on a daily basis, as well as relying on big data mining and analysis, because of their fundamental role in effective decision-making and predicting the future. It’ll also move towards relying on supercomputing, enhancing machine learning and the use of remote-control systems. Organizations will increase spending on research and development activities and may increase their use of consultants and experts.

6. Less Human Resource but More Efficient:

Organizations will tend to restructure their workforce in terms of headcounts because of increased reliance on technology. In return, it will depend on a more creative and talented workforce. Organizations will increase the incentives for organizational learning and reformulate career roles. These organizations will have a unique and qualified human resource with an awareness of crisis management and opportunities exploiting. Those organizations that had allowed the remote work and e-learning to ensure physical distancing will have to be highly qualified and have loyal human resources during and after the crisis is over. Individuals will feel closer to employers with the absence of multiple managerial layers due to direct communication.

Can it be known which organization will be better able to transform than others? Undoubtedly, there are several factors influenced this transformation, but it can generally be foretold by looking at how these organizations responded to the pandemic, which is mainly confined to the following three forms:

First: Slow or No Response: Reflects the organizations’ slow and confused response, or those that have failed to manage their resources intelligently, haven’t kept pace with large-scale transformations, haven’t responded to the expectations of their clients, and haven’t had leadership capable of change. Without a doubt, if these organizations do not fail, they will significantly suffer a lot and will need a long time to recover. Management failure isn’t necessarily the cause, but rather the complete discontinuation of its activities and the failure of its business model. For example, supply chains are disrupted and the activities of travel and tourism companies, which will take a while to get up again, are suspended. These institutions will be a long way to transition to a new shape and will need to make a great effort to rebuild their business model and develop their ability to respond quickly, adapt, and change and many of them may end up with the longevity of the crisis outside of competition and outside the market.

Second: The Keeping-Up Response: Those are organizations that were a little late in responding to this pandemic, but after a great effort, they managed to deal with the crisis flexibly and achieve self-preservation. These organizations will be able to adapt to the new reality in the near term and will make their best efforts to survive. Most of these organizations will maintain their business with affordable losses, realizing that bending to the storm helps them to weather it, and certainly, the shape of their business will witness a significant form of change.

Third: The Immediate Response: Describes the institutions that managed in the early response to the crisis, with high flexibility, smart reactions, and planned crisis preparations. They are organizations that have been able to deal with high responsibility, to read between the lines, and to turn the crisis into an opportunity. These organizations had begun to take this new form that we described previously and will have better opportunities and an advanced level of competition as the crisis recedes.

Inevitably, the future post the Coronavirus will be different than it used to be before. Organizations have learned a lot of lessons, despite the bitterness of the losses incurred and gained lots of experience that would enable them to overcome upcoming crises. Organizations will become more willing to work in a changing world, will play a bigger role with fewer resources, will reach to new opportunities, and their interests will always be renewed. Successful organizations will not put all the eggs in one basket, they will be more mutually supportive and cooperative and focus on the pivotal competencies required as a condition for their success. Organizations will build wide alliances with new internal and external partners, will think globally and act locally, they will inevitably adopt an open organizational culture, with new values and standards that didn’t exist before, and will be more capable and ready to overcome the next crisis.

Deloitte, (2020), COVID-19: Orchestrating the recovery of organizations and supply chains.
Boland, Brodie; De Smet, Aaron ; Palter ,Rob ; and Sanghvi, Aditya (June, 2020) Reimagining the office and work life after COVID-19, , McKinsye & Company.
Keshek, Ashraf (April, 2020) Corona Crisis: The implications and mechanisms adopted by countries to manage the crisis, DERASAT, Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies.
Al-Subaie, Fatima (April, 2020) Overview: Use of technology in the emerging Corona Virus crisis, DERASAT, Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies.
Federal Authority for Government Human Resource, (May, 2020) People Priorities in Response to COVID-19, HRECHO Specialized Biannual Magazine, No. 12.
Keshek, Ashraf (May, 2020) Corona Crisis: International Relations After the Corona Crisis: Strategic Options for the Gulf States, DERASAT, Bahrain Center for Strategic, International and Energy Studies.
Craven, Matt; Mysore, Mihir and Wilson, Matthew (May 13, 2020) Risk Practice: COVID-19 briefing Note, McKinsye & Company.
Taha, Salah (May 27, 2020) Strategic agility: How do organizations overcome the Corona crisis with minimal losses? Aljazeera.
McKinsye & Company (June 1, 2020) Global health and crisis response, COVID-19 briefing Note.