No Looking Back: How to Deal with Rapid Workplace Change

Written by Michael Riall

March 25, 2020

It’s March and this has already been an unpredictable year. The global crisis we’re experiencing has rapidly changed the way we live and work, and some of those changes are bound to be permanent. At the very least they will have a long-lasting effect on the way things are done in the future.

Success for organizations, at least for the time being, is now defined as adaptability and the ability to survive.

There are so many organizations out there having to scramble to cope. While for years now there have been articles and studies about how industry and business are changing, current circumstances have rapidly sped up that timeline. How do organizations deal with this amount of change quickly and effectively, while supporting the people that make up our businesses?

Back to Basics

Remote work, a complete change in operations for many organizations, increased personal risk for some employees; all of us managing massive change in both our work and home lives simultaneously. When things are more complex it’s important to go back to basics: focus on your people.

What is your organization’s culture like? Has it changed with current events?

The people that make up your business, your employees, shareholders, leadership, etc., need to be supported by that culture right now. We’ve written about building change resilience into organizational culture before, and that’s doubly important at the moment.

• Your organization must embrace the changes happening.
• Address emotion, acknowledge fear and develop sensitivity in leadership.
• Involve employees through communication and crowdsourcing ideas
• Take the time—even when things are urgent—to delineate the future state in terms that employees can easily visualize.
• Redefine your culture as one that adapts and overcomes.


There are a lot of unknowns right now, but best practice when it comes to managing change can still help.

Think back to when you either started your organization or started working for your organization. For you to become successful as a leader, connections and trust had to be formed. Right now those bonds need to be strengthened.

This requires cultivating a workplace that focuses more on humanity. While this isn’t a new concept, organizations will further need to develop these given current circumstances. Factors outside of our control will mean additional stress while coping with the rapid changes occurring, and better connections are needed to manage that.

In the past, we’ve discussed how when going into the unknown one aspect that helps, and one that’s particularly important when establishing and reestablishing connection, is engagement. We’ve discussed this in relation to stakeholders, which is still important, but it’s also imperative enterprise-wide:

• Communicate clearly and often.
• Set up leadership to give their teams and individual employees frequent and meaningful feedback, and make sure that feedback goes both ways.
• Focus on the impact of change on people and how you can help.
• Involve those being impacted when it comes to evolving processes.

You’ve Got This

Support your people, work on embracing change as it comes, and building resilience when and where you can.

• Increase the frequency of addressing and readdressing the bullet points in the previous sections.
• Ask yourself and those in your organization:
• Do processes need to be changed?
• How has your organization been adapting?
• Do we need help to manage this change?
• What do these changes mean going forward?

Remember that you’re not going through this alone. Your people are your greatest asset, and by managing them through this change, you’ll grow as an organization.


How WCI is Adapting

Like many of you, we’ve made the shift to virtual meetups only. We will continue to provide only the best support, advice, and services that our clients have come to expect.


WCI will also continue to deliver thought leadership to help drive your business, and if you have any particular concerns or topics on your mind right now, please reach out to us. It’s our goal to help you any way we can.


We’re still here, and we’re here not only to provide business as usual, but to help you manage this unprecedented amount of change together, contact us.