I Stock 1218578849

Enhancing Corporate Resilience During (and After) COVID-19

Articles & Insights May 28 2020

Our COVID-19 blog series offers a series of interviews with crisis management, business continuity and crisis communications experts who share information about their current pandemic efforts, state of mind and corporate path forward.


We invited Bob Sibik, Senior Vice President & Co-Founder of Fusion Risk Management, to provide insights and ideas for companies that are interested in furthering their corporate resilience efforts during this unprecedented time. This blog entry highlights our interview with him on the podcast series entitled PandemicBuzz launched by Witt O’Brien’s Devin Sirmenis, Managing Director, Corporate Resilience.

Frequent communications and virtual social activities
During this pandemic, companies that offer frequent communications and enable social activities for their employees have performed better than their peers. Through frequent communications with shareholders, stakeholders and employees, companies will gather more information from both internal and external parties. Enabling virtual social activities can foster a positive culture and create support groups for employees who aren’t accustomed to working remotely. Working from home may result in an uptick in productivity initially, however working remotely isn’t healthy for staff long-term. Providing some form of social interaction will offer help to those employees that are dealing with feelings of isolation or depression caused by the quarantine mandate.

Site readiness and densification
While many states are considering lifting their shelter-in-place orders, significant changes must be made to the workplace before companies can welcome back employees. Companies are obligated to ensure their employees are coming back to a safe, healthy environment and protective equipment should be installed when physical distancing isn’t easily achieved. In the past, densification was the trend to further enable collaboration and working together in the workplace. Given the social distancing rule, this densification approach will now have to be reversed.

Working from home and capacity planning
This pandemic is seen broadly as a crisis as it exceeds any of the assumptions when doing traditional business continuity planning. SARS, HiN1 and MERS didn’t prepare us well because none of these continuity plans were maintained over the years. Unlike these previous crises, COVID-19 will create a new norm for the modern business world.

One of the aspects of the new norm is that many people will continue to work from home even after the pandemic is over. Because of this, companies must provide more robust technology to enable closer, consistent communication and interaction. In addition, new productivity metrics should be implemented to measure employee efficiency.

Companies will have to reevaluate how many employees are required at their offices on a regular basis and work will likely be defined as a “process” instead of a “place”. Capacity planning will become the biggest challenge for companies moving forward and there aren’t many tools available to help manage and plan office occupancy.

The importance of delivering the outcome to your clients
Instead of wanting to “recover the process”, companies should focus on the outcome of the process. Organizations must concentrate on delivering the outcome to both internal and external clients and find new ways to enrich the client experience. Your workforce should not only be trained on the process and how to reconstitute that process from a different location, but also possess the knowledge regarding why the outcome matters; which enables them to be more creative while achieving that outcome. This shift in approach will make your workforce more agile and resilient when facing a similar situation in the future.

Consequence-oriented planning
So how can we become more prepared for an event like this in the future? First, companies should contemplate what it means to be prepared. They should shift their focus from not only planning to become more resilient throughout their organization, but also the ecosystem they operate within.

Since this crisis demands much more integration with external parties, companies must have a better understanding of their ecosystem and know how to use data to create immediate actions when something unexpected happens. With that being said, consequence-oriented plans will replace scenario-based plans in the future because it is impossible to predict every single possibility of any particular scenario. Unlike scenario-based plans, consequence-oriented plans are not highly prescriptive but will establish detailed guidelines for decision-making.

Support the human spirit
Over the years, one of the forgotten practices for many leaders is the importance of caring for the human spirit. This pandemic has brought to light that management should provide more than just overall direction to its staff. Leaders must offer employees emotional support and inspiration as well. Management is not simply about imparting knowledge on how to get the work done but about showing your team “we can get it done together”.


Please listen to all of our PandemicBuzz episodes on one of your favorite platforms:

Apple Podcasts



Contact us
We look forward to the opportunity to guide our clients. Please email covidhelp@wittobriens.com for information or to schedule a step-by-step webinar for details on how to navigate through the COVID-19 crisis.

Devin Sirmenis
Devin Sirmenis

Devin Sirmenis, Managing Director, Corporate Resilience

Devin is a risk and crisis specialist focused on corporate resilience and has served clients for 20 years as a trusted advisor. Devin works with executive leadership at Fortune 500 firms to assess and develop their crisis management programs, train crisis leaders, and stress test the ability to manage an enterprise threatening crisis through simulations.

Prior to joining Witt O'Brien's he led consultant programs at Deloitte, Booz Allen Hamilton and Perot Systems Government Services. Devin pairs his years of client experience with continuing education and has completed Harvard Kennedy School's Crisis Leadership Program, and holds a Change Management Advanced Practitioner certification from Georgetown University McDonough School of Business.