Webinar Recap: The Impact of COVID-19 on the Board

Accelerating the future of work and greater speeds in innovating during a crisis were some of the perspectives from the board in Pulse’s most recent webinar with Diana McKenzie and Marina Levinson.

Though the US was generally slow in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, many organizations took note and were able to implement important steps towards securing their workforce.

“Boards were recognizing as early as February that COVID-19 posed a serious risk to the well-being of employees and the organization at large.” Former CIO of Workday McKenzie told Pulse in their most recent webinar, “It was being tracked and monitored, because there was a recognition that, while we weren’t quite sure how impactful it was going to be, it was something that we needed to watch.”

One of the earliest steps companies took was to have their staff work remotely. Marina Levinson, member of the Board of Directors at Personal Capital, noted how the crisis may make the move home more permanent than we currently imagine. “I’m actually convinced that work-from-home is not going to disappear.” Levinson said, “It might not be as pervasive as it is now, because we’re forced to work from home.”

Which is why initial steps for organizations was to ensure employee safety as a crucial metric for corporate health. “So much of what needs to be measured, tracked, and driven right now is around ensuring employees are safe and the employees feel like they have the resources they need to carry on in their work-from-home environments,” Levinson said at the webinar.

Corporations will also have to make the transition safe for their workers who may end up back in the office. “Now that we’re looking at how to open the country up safely, business boards really need to be involved in understanding how companies are going to provide that in a safe manner,” Levinson added.

What’s fortunate is that the crisis has provided crucial learnings: most of which is the strong collaborative spirit between companies. “There’s an incredible abundance of sharing both from a knowledge perspective, from an experience perspective as well as just overall support.” McKenzie said, “The tech companies were very readily sharing their experience where before I don’t know if that kind of information would have been as readily shared.”

Many may see this crisis as a shifting of priorities and even a tightening of the belt in some instances. “There will be support changes and there will be changes in multiple business processes,” Levinson confirmed at the webinar “This is where IT organizations really need to look at their current portfolio and potentially reprioritize efforts. There will be no nice-to-have initiatives in 2020 or even in 2021.”

However, as known in political circles, one shouldn’t let a good crisis go to waste. The same is true in business where organizations have the opportunity to innovate their way out of the crisis.

Board member McKenzie noted the example of Walmart onboarding new employees within a day to cope with the demand of new labor. “For all of you CIOs out there, how long have we been talking about streamlining the onboarding process for employees? The agility that comes from our crisis can create something pretty exciting.”

Unable to catch the webinar? Check out the full recorded session on our Pulse Channel on Youtube.

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