Crowd of people wearing medical masks banner. Preventive measures, human protection from pneumonia outbreak. Coronavirus epidemic concept. Respiratory disease, virus spread. Vector illustration

Contributed by AFFLINK

We are now one year into the COVID pandemic, making this an excellent time to reflect on an exceedingly difficult 12 months. What can be learned from this experience?

Michael Wilson, vice president of marketing for AFFLINK, a membership-based sales and marketing organization for the professional cleaning, packaging, office supply, and foodservice industries, said that "the past year has also been ‘a once-in-a-lifetime’ moment for manufacturers, distributors, and service providers to learn and better understand how their companies operate and what changes can be made so they operate more effectively.”

Wilson has identified the following four “lessons learned,” which have helped many AFFLINK members improve operating efficiencies that he believes could help many other organizations.

1. Team transparency 

No one initially knew how much the pandemic would impact businesses. 

“Those companies coming out stronger a year later had a higher level of transparency and information sharing. They were frank and direct about the organization, the impact of the pandemic, and decisions being made," said Wilson.

2. More personal communications

With more people working remotely, most company communication was initially handled entirely by email. However, a more personal touch was necessary.

“That’s when Zoom meetings took hold, and some companies have gone even further. They began using audio apps to send voice messages, often accompanied by links or images," said Wilson. "This allowed team synergies to blossom, rather than wither and die as some companies experienced."

3. Senior-level management

Senior-level managers played a much more active and direct role in communicating strategies and policies to all staffers, not going through middle managers. 

“This reflected the crisis management attitude felt by many organizations when the pandemic first began," said Wilson. "Many companies have also found that this reduced organizational bureaucracy, increasing collaboration and productivity.”

4. Evaluating staff performance

When it became clear that staffers would have to work remotely, many senior managers were concerned how they could evaluate the work of their staff. 

“In the past, managers were presence-driven," Wilson explained. "If workers were in the office, they were believed to be getting the work done. Now managers had to be results-driven, focusing on results such as how many sales calls were made, the number of sales made, hours logged in, etc.”

There were other benefits to being results-driven, added Wilson. 

“It helped many organizations establish new benchmarks and goals, something they may not have had before, benefiting the entire company now and when the pandemic is behind us," he said.