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An Opportunity for Organizational Change?

Building Resilience - An Opportunity for Organizational Change

Organizational change is necessary for companies to survive in modern economies. Nonetheless, there is a broad consensus that resistance to changing working norms and habits makes this a highly challenging task. Is now the time?

By Emmanouil Avgerinos, Assistant Professor of Decision Sciences in Operations and Technology at IE Business School.

 


 

Organizations are normally characterized by a high level of bureaucracy and therefore rigidity, making it very difficult to implement organizational change. However, the current pandemic and the need to fight the spread of the virus has resulted in a radical change in people’s mindset regarding how processes and interactions can take place within organizations. As white-collar workers have been forced to work remotely, they have realized that they can complete many of their office tasks successfully—and in some cases faster—from home. The usefulness of existing organizational practices has therefore been called into question.

In my own experience, for instance, academics have had to modify their practices and conduct all their teaching and supervision online. Universities have succeeded in adopting this approach, creating a very nice example of successful organizational response to a crisis.

Tasks to reconsider

In many other sectors, as previously mandatory personal meetings or business trips have become impossible, people have come to understand that some of these activities might not actually be necessary. Now that the vast majority of bureaucratic tasks can no longer be performed, people are reconsidering the value of these tasks for their organizations.

This realization presents a unique opportunity for organizational change. Companies can take advantage of this new situation to implement new policies while facing lower resistance from employees. To successfully adjust to current lockdown practices, they can also eliminate part of their bureaucracy, thereby minimizing their inevitable productivity losses.

An ongoing process

The pandemic crisis is expected to last for several months, since a vaccine is not expected until the end of this calendar year. This will have a major impact on business performance. Companies need to adjust to the current situation and learn to operate like this for a significant period of time.

Organizational change is more imperative than ever. The successful adoption of new approaches aligned with the new work regime could mean the difference between surviving and perishing during the upcoming global financial recession.