How are business leaders planning for the ‘new normal’?

04 May 2020

We asked our partners around the world...



Alexander Matthies



  • Business Leaders must have maximum flexibility, agility and resilience to navigate through this pandemic.
  • Some Industries like Aircraft or Automotive face a decrease of 40 to 60%. For the next few years they expect difficult times. Automotive OEMs are slowly resuming production and as sales numbers in China are getting better there is more positivity.
  • FMCG / Luxury / Retail: The impact on Consumer Goods is quite different. The ‘new normal’ means tougher hygiene standards in all Malls, Stores and Boutiques with different rules and regulations in each Federal State.
  • Food, eCommerce and basic goods are booming, while non-food and textile retail are facing tough times. In the Fashion Industry even the big players with plenty of stores are fighting to survive, but sadly some will not.



Mary Keane



  • Clients we’ve spoken to all agree that lessons are still being learned from this ever-evolving situation.
  • The depth of social and economic impact of this pandemic is still very difficult to assess, leaving business leaders here in the Czech Republic with too many unknowns to make feasible plans and reliable forecasts.
  • We still do not know the actual pace of easing restrictions, the parameters of various government programs to help businesses recover and the developments in countries which are key trading partners.
  • To succeed in the ‘new normal’, leaders and their teams need to be able to sense and quickly respond to changes. The crisis has highlighted that plans are necessary but not sufficient in this turbulent and uncertain environment. Key to ensure success is to identify strong, resilient and adaptive leaders who can bring teams together towards a common purpose.




Zoltan Petho



  • Most firms are operating in a very different way due to COVID-19 and these new operations seem to be stable.
  • This crisis has obviously provided an opportunity to experiment with new formats, digital forums, new ways of communication, measures etc. and these are already becoming normal business practices.
    • For those firms where cost reduction is not the main focus, they are designing and developing new services, products and workflows to secure a market advantage.
    • New collaboration and communication patterns are emerging and all businesses must adapt accordingly. Flexi-time, working from home and online meetings show us that existing processes, tasks, projects can be delivered in a very different (new) ways with same effectiveness if not better, whilst costs and spent resources (travelling, office space, time spent on meetings) are dramatically reduced. It will be interesting to see which become the ‘ new normal’.
    • Customer habits are always changing anyway, by definition, so those firms who can steer, manage or follow these transformations could be the winners – especially if they can generate and lead these changes and innovations.
    • Managerial roles and functions have changed. Some roles have actually became (unofficially) very important and leaders must recognize these employees to draw new organisation charts as needed.
  • Leaders of the new normal must increasingly rely on digital technology and data driven analytics to be successful, while of course being mindful of the human factor.



Floriana Enescu



  • The Coronavirus crisis has accelerated societal and company technological connectivity.
  • In a study by, Bucharest was revealed as the best city for remote working worldwide and most Romanian leaders are adapting their businesses as much as possible to the ‘new normal’.
    • Increasing numbers of remote workers (30-40%), which actually translates into reduced costs and better productivity;
    • Flexible working schedules combined with the hybrid remote/on-site working system;
    • Increased distance between desks to cope with the social distancing – helped by the increased number of remote employees;
    • Flexible office space (used in the past by a small number of companies), used by employees which are working both on-site and remote;
    • Increasing the use of remote collaboration tools;
    • Redirecting marketing and trade-marketing budgets towards online communication;
      Remote engagement programs to maintain the motivation of employees.


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:


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