Preparing your business for a return to a “new normal”

9 months into the pandemic we are slowly adapting and learning to live with the virus. New ways of working – WFH and WFA are now integrated into our processes. However, even with the success of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine, doctors opine that it will take at least 2 years for it to be available to the public. So we have to prepare our business process to navigate this extended period of social distancing and wave after wave of infections.

As we look ahead to the changing business context we need to steer our organizations to business recovery and then growth. Each business has to re-evaluate its strategy and the path to recovery will need to factor in our greatest capital – human capital. Companies need to prioritize training and reskilling their teams to address the competency gaps that will emerge for a low-touch digital future.

Future of work

The 2020 World Economic Forum’s report on the ‘Future of Jobs’ [1] revealed that 84% of employers are set to rapidly digitalize working processes, including a significant expansion of remote work.

Many companies in India have declared that they will move towards work from home to maintain social distancing and business continuity. TCS[2] has a Vision 25*25, wherein it aims to have only 25% of its employees work from its facilities by 2025.

Healthcare and pharmaceutical companies that traditionally operate in brick and mortar models have seen a huge transition to digital from telemedicine to e-pharmacies.

The Future of Jobs Report published by the WEF has identified the skills[3], which will effectively make the digital and remote work transition. Some of them include:

  • Analytical thinking and innovation
  • Leadership and social influence
  • Creativity, originality, and initiative
  • Complex problem-solving
  • Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility
  • Quality control and safety awareness
  • Active learning and learning strategies
  • Technology design and programming
  • Technology use, monitoring, and control

Of course, we will also have to factor in industry-specific skills that need to be developed.

Sales management challenges

While remote working for desk jobs may be a boon, it’s the business development, customer interfacing, and sales management functions that are really challenged. We need to understand these challenges and support our teams to ride them so that the targeted sales are brought in.

I often get asked as to what are some of the key areas organizations should focus on as they begin the skilling of their sales and marketing teams. Here are some of my suggestions:

1.  Sales managers have a particularly difficult job with remote supervision of their teams as they also have to lead, motivate, support and train their people- all remotely. Both Front Line managers and Second-line managers need revised role definitions and processes to help them to enable their teams to perform.

2. Sales teams or MR’s also need to make the transition to digital selling. Their role has to change to that of a relationship manager and has to move away from the transaction-based approach to a science-based relationship. A key aspect has to be supporting the physician on digital skills and helping him make the transition to e-medicine.

3. To my mind the following key competencies need to be developed: 

  • Remote Leadership and influencing skills
  • Mindset Change – agility and versatility
  • New communication strategies
  • Data-driven decision making
  • Critical thinking, and problem-solving
  • Creativity, originality, and initiative
  • Resilience, stress tolerance, and flexibility

4. Learning interventions need to be designed for an impactful and outcome-driven approach. For this one would need to identify specific competencies and needs for the new context. Workshops should be designed to bring about transformation yet considering the constraints of online learning. Together with impactful delivery and tracking of results, one should have a winning learning intervention.

Every business has to build the confidence of its customers and internal team to navigate the post-pandemic era. The good news is that a vaccine is coming. Now remains the part of prioritizing initiatives to build our human capital and refocusing on business productivity and topline results. At InteGreat People[4] we can help you make the transition. Write to us at with your comments.