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COVID-19: Adapting in Times of Uncertainty

It’s been just over a month since the first case of COVID-19 arrived in Singapore. Since then, it’s been a flurry of daily updates on numbers of cases, panic reactions and implementation of business continuity plans (BCP).

As businesses scramble to adapt to the new normal, Paperspace Asia was also thrust into a position of uncertainty. A confidential client of ours had to navigate its developing internal processes over a couple of weeks before deciding to proceed with a 100-man Change Management Workshop with restrictions in place.

We found ourselves adapting to the evolving situation and here are some of our key takeaways from our experience:

Maintain a resilient attitude

With four days to event day, our challenge was to rework a face-to-face workshop that was to be held in one location to the institution’s BCPs in which staff were restricted to their floors within each of their three buildings. We had to keep to a fixed number of facilitators – 4.

Faced with this, our team consciously reframed our mindset to look at the situation positively. We reminded ourselves that in a climate where engagements were getting cancelled, proposals paused and events temporarily postponed, we still had an assignment to focus our efforts on.

The team had to dig deep to view each unexpected requirement with a solutioning mindset and not focus on the negatives. We found that only by taking deliberate steps to focus on resolutions, could we keep our minds clear for creativity and innovation.

Innovate, innovate, innovate!

We threw out all the traditional ways of organising a workshop, taking it online instead. Reworking a face-to-face workshop into a virtual one meant that interaction and engagement were at risk of being compromised. We settled on a mix of both worlds and invited no more than twenty staff members to join facilitators in four different rooms while the rest of the participants joined us virtually.

This also included a combination of tech solutions including dial in, Skype, video conferencing capabilities, online polls, and deliberate attempts from facilitators to elicit responses from participants online.

Our efforts did not go to waste as the results of our post workshop survey showed majority of respondents rated the overall format of the workshop positively. Some even commended the team for adapting well and ensuring staff were effectively engaged, given the circumstances.

Walk the talk

The workshop was targeted at increasing collaboration within the company, and we had the opportunity to do just. Working under pressure to deliver also meant working intimately with the client’s multiple teams to pull off this one-of-a-kind workshop – a first in the company’s change management journey.

In coming together, it was also clear the firm had a clear appetite and readiness for inter-team collaboration – exactly what the workshop was intended to deliver.

Decisive and proactive leadership from the client

The Paperspace Asia team was fortunate to experience strong leadership from across the client’s multiple teams involved in the project. They made decisions quickly and took active steps to help overcome any challenges we met.

For example, key decision makers recognised a delay in the workshop could endanger the effectiveness of the entire change management project. With a clear and unwavering stance, they lent their weight to suggestions that would overcome obstacles quickly, allowing us to focus on delivering the best outcome we could.

They also did not shy away from getting their hands dirty which included stepping in when an unpredicted 10-minute crash happened in the middle of the workshop. Leaders immediately took it upon themselves to update participants on the situation and allay their concerns while the team focused on troubleshooting.

Care for team

Caring for your colleagues is probably the most essential takeaway we learnt from the experience. Enforced breaks, well-timed encouragement and recognition, team meals and rotation in and out of client premises can do wonders for a team working in a crisis.

It is almost natural for invested team members to work day and night, and help each other out to ensure a good deliverable, but little rest and bad eating habits will hinder personal wellbeing.

All it took for us in this case was the pushing of a meeting back an hour, two days before the workshop. That extra hour of rest was all it took for the team to come back refreshed and energised to take on every challenge thrown our way.

It is said in every challenge, there is opportunity hidden within. This time, we were pushed hard to find it, and with 75% of survey respondents finding the workshop effective in terms of its objectives, we can confidently come away with good reminders to tide us through uncertain periods.

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