These days, more than ever, contact with customers takes place via screen. The virtual meetings of T&S Brussels brought together top financial peers from the food sector, the legal profession, the facilities services sector (catering, meeting rooms, etc.) and industry (construction, car, train, tram). A very diverse panel whose members have a wide range of challenges.
An international law firm with two hundred employees is very different from a large industrial company that builds trains. And it makes a big difference whether you deliver food products to restaurants and hotels or to shops: the first CFO has a lot of worries and the business of the second flourishes. Or even: one participant was struggling more with his cashflow than the other and the use of technical unemployment differed between the companies. Those who work a lot with contractors or the self-employed obviously do so less.
In order to be able to continue functioning in the actual and unprecedented environment, the debaters have understandably set up new consultative bodies in their organisation, which meet virtually on a regular basis. Most striking in the discussion was that more than one changed his/her view about telework, which for some companies was completely unknown territory. Their distrust and resistance about working remotely has given way to the realization that it can be effective and that this way of working offers opportunities for improvement.
The international law firm, for example, can limit its use of paper. They are enthusiastic about working with PDFs and are thinking about adapting their processes. The organization of lawyers had the advantage that it had already decided to buy PCs before the Corona crisis. This was not the case for one of the food companies, who still had to buy portable computers. A third participant stated that he would adjust its teleworking policy. In short, the general feeling of the conversation was: telework is here to stay.
We must not turn people into robots. You have to frame telework well. Otherwise you never stop working.
It is also worth mentioning that several debaters emphasized the need to structure the telework properly. They stressed that you can’t be constantly at work. "We must not turn people into robots. You have to frame telework well. Otherwise you never stop working," said the builder of trains and trams. The facility services provider pointed out that telework brings a kind of rest because you can work undisturbed over a longer period of time. He came to realize that teleworking is perfect in an administrative position. In unison with the car builder and provider of car loans, he highlighted that not having to commute increases productivity.
As interesting facts of the debate, we also take into account that investment programmes have been put on the back burner everywhere and that participants expect to have to play the role of a banker for their good customers when they restart. And for those who are about to buy a new car, it's good to know that the car builder has super promotions in mind.
Some financial top executives fear that there is a risk of difficulties with the holidays. Many coworkers asked to be allowed to postpone already planned holidays until after the Corona crisis. Companies responded positively, but asked employees not to postpone all the days they had planned. Other organisations made it possible to transfer days off to next year. In this way, they hope to avoid too many people taking leave at the same time.
The corona crisis has changed many things. Some of these changes, such as teleworking, are permanent in nature. People and organizations are forced to adapt. Fortunately, their ability to adapt is great.