What business leaders should embrace in the ‘new normal’
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What business leaders should embrace in the ‘new normal’

What business leaders should embrace in the ‘new normal’

Composition of post-pandemic business realities will be very different to what was before

As the ongoing pandemic continues to make global news headlines, business leaders who want to stay ahead and remain successful are looking for stable footholds in this time of uncertainty.

Some concentrate on forecasts regarding the shape of the curve of the economic recovery we will witness after the pandemic is over. Will it be a V, W, L, Nike swoosh, or something else?

However, discussions around such predictions miss an essential point – no matter what shape the recovery curve will be, the composition of post-pandemic business realities will be very different to what we’ve seen before.

Below are four considerations that, in my opinion, will have an important impact on the future of business. I believe that every manager should keep them in mind to ensure their business thrives.

Adaptability remains key to success
The necessity of remote working and management has shown that those teams who proved to be the most successful during the pandemic, were the ones who quickly adapted to the so-called ‘new normal’ and responded to constant changes.

Like everyone else, team leaders had to adjust their digital capabilities, grasp new instruments and ways of communication, collaborate virtually, reshape business processes and achieve results when uncertainty lay in their path. For many, remote management is an obvious challenge in terms of tracking tasks, communication gaps, security concerns and other issues which have to be addressed daily.

Nevertheless, as many working environments evolve to use hybrid models and keep facing new challenges, adaptability will be an increasingly necessary skill for teams and their leaders who aim to succeed. This includes the need to quickly react to outside changes and fine-tune processes, increase the speed of decision-making processes, mobilise resources to respond to both a threat or an opportunity, be proactive and address uncertainties.

It is widely believed that Darwin once said – “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is most adaptable to change”. While the scientist’s biographers baffle by the viral spread of this misquotation, its meaning is as relevant for businesses as ever.

Kanaan: Those who lead change must plant and harness trust between employees.
The importance of the human factor will continue to grow
Successfully managing an international team is closely tied to emotional connections built on empathy, the ability to listen, appreciate and provide the necessary help. Building trust was difficult and time-consuming even before the pandemic, but amid the current lack of offline communication, the price of this commodity has skyrocketed.

Managers who don’t pay enough attention to establishing a caring, family-like atmosphere in their teams may find it difficult to create additional emotional values to people’s daily routine, or inspire, motivate and persuade their employees.

At the end of the day, corporate structures and processes rely on real people. Those who lead change must plant and harness trust between employees. Managing the strong connections and building teams remotely will require more time and effort, but the result will be worth it.

The ‘new normal’ may be more welcoming and inclusive for female professionals
Working women were hit hard by the pandemic. They are historically overrepresented in many of the heavily affected industries, such as hospitality, retail and entertainment. Moreover, during the lockdown, many had to leave jobs to take care of their children and unpaid domestic duties.

Even those representing the most adaptable sectors, like hi-tech, faced career struggles. Kaspersky’s new report Where are we now? Understanding the evolution of women in technology found that almost half (47 per cent) of female workers in tech believe the effects of Covid-19 have delayed their career progression. At the same time, the study found a similar number of women thinking that much-needed gender equality is more likely to be achieved through remote working structures.

Indeed, remote and flexible working, as well as a shift in recruiters’ focus from titles and degrees to transferable skills needed for the job, have the potential to benefit female professionals with competitive know-how.

Moreover, the construct of working from home has lowered the entry barrier for women aiming to join companies based in other cities and even countries. And for businesses, it’s more important than ever to hire and promote skilful people who benefit the company, with prejudices and biases diminishing.

On top of that, forward-looking businesses will pay more attention to building gender-balanced teams, as more and more research and life practices indicate that gender diversity has an overall positive impact on financial success.

For example, a McKinsey report found that ‘companies in the top quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 25 per cent more likely to have above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile’.

Cybersecurity will become even more vital
2020 has shown that digitalisation is an integral part of any successful business, as we’ve all had to adapt to remote working and moving processes online. But more importantly – we’ve got used to it. It has also proved that those companies that do not digitally transform in the ‘new normal’ can be left behind and may cease to exist. This will lead to companies continuing to digitise whatever they can, to make work more efficient and lockdown resistant.

However, as businesses become more and more digitised, they expose themselves to more threats. During the pandemic, cybercriminals used the newfound time to master their skills and test out new methods. We saw a sharp rise in cybercrime of all kinds, from malware to advanced persistent threats (APT). Also, new hacking groups came on the scene, and with them, new kinds of attacks. And cybercriminals will hardly ease their efforts once the pandemic is over.

With this in mind, the more companies and organisations digitalise, the more they will have to pay attention to cybersecurity to be able to fully use and enjoy what the technology brings. This includes not only investing in cybersecurity solutions but also organising regular IT training for employees, as human errors are among the main reasons behind successful cyberattacks.

Amir Kanaan is the managing director for the Middle East and Africa region at Kaspersky

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