CEO Insights #2 During COVID-19

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On Tuesday, April 14th MassTLC held the second in a series of forums for CEOs to come together and share their different perspectives and experiences from the COVID-19 crisis to help generate a composite view and enable better decision-making. These CEOs represent a cross-section of the industry and their companies – from start-ups to global enterprises—have an array of different products, services, technologies, geographies served, and customer segments. They also varied in terms of the business impact of the current crisis on their businesses.

In our initial meeting we focused on setting context and understanding the impacts on each other’s businesses and customers. For our second meeting, we shared findings of MassTLC’s Tech Executive Pulse Survey and focused the discussion in two main areas: (1) Realigning business operations to this new norm, and (2) How to think about bringing employees back to the office in terms of timing, policies, density, screening/testing, and other measures.

Read the summary of our first CEO meeting here.

When tech CEOs considered realigning their companies for this new norm, two key questions arose: First, what elements of the business are vital and must be preserved in this new environment? Second, what should we disrupt and where are the opportunities to innovate?

The conversation centered how to adapt and position tech companies to come out strong in the recovery. As noted in the brief from our first call, tech CEOs who have product and service offerings that are benefitting in this time of social distancing are seeing less disruption. Many of the CEO’s are helping customers address their challenges in this new normal with modified product offerings. Some are using this time to strategize and innovate on new products or markets.

While there is no set date or even quarter that companies are targeting to get their workers back to their offices, there is one constant: it will be staggered when they begin. Companies will have in place policies to limit the number of employees, spacing of workstations, regulations of common areas, options for gloves and masks, and even temperature screening. Some leaders suggested that they will be even more cautious than state and local officials in terms of timing of returning to offices.

A couple themes emerged when considering the corporate policies about bringing people back to the office, including: (1) how and when to bring the workforce back; and (2) personal safety measures for employees and physical space.