Coronavirus – challenging us to think differently

Sarah Henchoz

Ever the optimist and in an attempt to distract myself from the constant stream of worrying press reports on the Coronavirus, I have found myself finding a possible silver-lining to the current situation.

This week, I am part of the team assessing our new partner candidates. This is one of the most important things we do as a business each year and, if anything is business critical, it is this. Usually, we all decamp to one of our global offices, which means a number of assessors and candidates travelling so that we can fully focus on the task in hand. However, with the current restriction on travel, a decision was quite rightly taken to conduct all the assessments by VC. This was of course difficult for all involved (and huge credit must go to the global support teams who have worked so hard to set this up and ensure that the candidate experience is not affected), but it has shown that it is entirely possible to work flexibly even in the most challenging of circumstances.

I have been on video calls this week with candidates and fellow assessors from multiple jurisdictions at a time (a particular challenge for those based in time zones that mean very early mornings and very late nights), discussing matters which go to the very heart of our business. Yes, being face to face with a candidate does make it easier to build rapport, but actually in all of the assessments I have been part of, this has not been an issue at all. Good technology is of course critical to making this work, but so is the need to truly embrace flexibility and, for any naysayers out there who think being face to face is the only way to conduct business, ensure team morale or properly get the best out of people, think again. With more people likely to be working remotely as the current situation continues, with schools possibly closing and transport networks being suspended, hopefully we will have plenty more positive examples of how flexible working practices really can work for all of us in every circumstance, and this difficult situation may actually be the catalyst for real change. There might even be environmental benefits too.