The arrival of the Coronavirus to Europe has prompted public authorities and companies to establish precautionary measures to limit the spread of the respiratory disease. Commission President Ursula Von der Leyen has also announced travel restrictions on non-essential travel to the EU. In this unprecedented situation, managers have the duty to lead by example, to follow and share health instructions of public authorities and to protect the health of collaborators.
“The current situation requires managers to keep a cool head. We have to prevent taking certain avoidable risks, be conscious about the humanly difficult situation and take decisions based on available evidence” says CEC Secretary General Maxime Legrand. “To help managers monitor and understand the current developments while initialising emergency plans, we will soon publish a Special Edition of our Managers’ Trends Report – available publicly.” Managers in the public and private sectors have a great responsibility in managing the current situation: risk management, establishment of alternative and secure working patterns, training collaborators to enable them in their response to the challenges and actively listening to their needs.
Looking beyond companies themselves, EU decision-makers should take into account the impact of the Coronavirus on the public health system, which has been under pressure in recent years in many EU member states. A preventive, inclusive and cost-effective health system that provides quality care for everyone is one of the backbones of the EU social model.
The Coronavirus crisis showcases the EU’s interdependency with the world. The EU is dependent on many critical supply chains, including medical equipment and pharmaceutical goods. The new EU Industrial Strategy therefore has to ensure that the EU economy is autonomous in such strategic areas. Furthermore, it is an occasion for companies to set up plans to become more resilient, to public health, but also other risks, as identified in the Global Risks Report 2019. In many sectors, remote work arrangements have been set up to reduce infection risks.
Within that context, managers have all interest to take time, first alone and then together with colleagues (via telework) to reflect upon ways to transition towards a healthier and more sustainable workplace culture and a more resilient work organization. In many ways, a stressful working environment has spill-over effects on other domains of life and on society at larger scale. Within the current circumstances, the need to focus on main business functions is also an opportunity to synchronise own personal needs with the purposes of the managerial profession and ultimately societal needs. For the business, it can be a time to repurpose the business model and make it more resilient to shocks and global challenges.