What lessons have businesses learned from this pandemic?

12 May 2020

We asked our partners around the world...




Peter Strandberg




The situation has forced all organisations to rethink policies, for example travel and from where one can work effectively. Working from different locations means of course that the infrastructure must be in place, but how it is structured, organised and managed might need to change too. In terms of the efficacy of the leaders and the way their performance will now be measured means that some managers will adapt but some will not and may need to be replaced.

What we took for granted all over the world before the pandemic, such as face to face meetings, have mostly been replaced with virtual calls. Companies have amended the way they go to market using all sorts of new technology and have to be organised accordingly. People are learning quickly because right now they have to – they are learning by ‘doing’ and not from ‘education’ this will inevitably elicit a much better uptake and sustain these behaviours better than any training that might have been forced upon them! To our surprise we have discovered that looking again at the way we conduct our own business might just make our own impact and contributions even better.




Nevena Nikolova




The COVID 19 pandemic has catalysed the digital transformation trends across all sectors. Even the most conservative ones are changing their business models and ways of working as the technologies have suddenly been repositioned from potential opportunity to their only salvation.

Due to the forced rise of the contact-free economy various online sales channels have been established or quickly developed. HR impacts are mainly related to the increased trend of automation as well as the expansion of remote working practices. The pandemic related restrictions allowed a massive “hot test” of the work-from-home concept and the major finding was that it worked significantly better than expected. There are clear indications that some of our client companies are planning to keep remote working as an unlimited option for their employees in the post-pandemic world while others have already started shedding offices.

The crisis has boosted an intense learning process both at an organisational and individual level. Business managers have experienced an unparalleled stretch and many of them reported the feeling of enormous personal and professional growth over just a couple of months.

Last but not least, the pandemic has stimulated organisations to reconsider who they are and to reinvent their offerings in a bold and innovative way.




Dorota Serwinska




The full impact of the pandemic is not known yet, but we have noticed that some larger global firms have not had to react drastically so far. After a few weeks of chaos they established a new modus operandi and tried to maintain business.  The bigger impact is expected in the 3rd or even 4th quarter of the year when effects might be more painful.

Some necessary changes and adaptions to the new circumstances, such as working remotely, have been implemented by most of our clients. It is becoming a common phenomenon and creates new managerial needs. The big issues are now to maintain efficiency, to build up morale and employee motivation.

Many of our clients underlined that the engagement and determination of their teams to get things done is really high. People are working on changing the whole operational model, changing/adapting processes and procedures, etc. This requires new competences, such as openness for a change, agile approach, innovation and creativity.

Designing effective channels of communication is also vitally important to ensure that everybody is on the same page because they do not spend informal time together now.

People are in fact working more, starting their days earlier, but working long-hours means they begin to experience screen time fatigue. They are “at work” all day and some now desperately want a return to well-defined office/home boundaries.

It seems clear that the changes introduced now will change the working environment for good. The pandemic is accelerating social trends and will inevitably influence working attitudes and habits. Every employers’ focus is currently on providing safe environments for their employees – this is their priority.




Julien Wilhelm




In France businesses must prepare for more major material shocks and most will listen to the scientists and base their decisions on their insights.

In the short term consequences are perhaps more easily observed and achieved:

  • A shorter and more reliable supply chain system
  • Development of remote working
  • Development of online sales

In the long term there will probably be a more sustainable economic model.


The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted nearly every corner of the world and disrupted daily life; every day there are more changes determining how we live and work.

Friisberg & Partners International is a long established, geographically distributed equity partnership with highly skilled partners, consultants and research teams in 40 of the world’s major cities offering executive search and leadership consultancy, in context, around the globe. We are highly effective in combining local knowledge with genuinely global capability.

We draw on the benefits of our diversity, bringing together people from many cultures with varied market experiences and different perspectives for strategic and organisational challenges. Never before have we faced a crisis of this magnitude, but our commitment to each other and to our clients remains constant.

If you have a question about business leadership you would like to put to Friisberg’s Partners, then please email Lorri Lowe, Partner, Friisberg UK: l.lowe@friisberg.com


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