The world’s largest economy has been staggered by the outbreak of a tiny virus but, step by step, China is mobilizing its workforce to return to work and business in face of the pervasive spread of COVID-19.
Cornerstone International Group, with six offices in mainland China and Taiwan, conducted a short online survey this week of 17-21 February among our business partners and friends, to gauge the current status of Back to Business in China.
The data is based on 126 responses to the questionnaire, from Shanghai, Beijing, Hong Kong and other locations such as Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Guangdong. All of the cities have been affected by the outbreak and many are bearing the brunt of the disruption.
Here is what we learned:
Current Status of Work in China
98.4% of companies returned to some form of work this week but only 4.8 % are truly back to normal and fully operational. Most employees are either working from home or a mixture of some office and home.
The Status of Work Anticipated This Week (Feb. 24-28)
Starting the week of Feb. 24, the government is promoting policies and guidelines on both the prevention and control of the Covid-19 outbreak and on best efforts to resume business and production.
As a result, the survey shows a majority of respondent (73.6%) expect to be back to normal or semi-normal operation during the coming week. (19.2 % fully normal and 54.4% semi-normal). By March 2, a majority of companies will be returning to normal from semi-normal office mode..
Chinese HR Needs Anticipated In 2020
An ability to doing more with smaller staffs, to expand performance and to engage young leaders are key in the months ahead. The Cornerstone Survey shows highest response on the need for Performance Improvement Training (40.8%) & Workforce Restructuring Consulting (40.0%).
China Business Survey Conclusions
In addition to home office and flexible working hours, CEOs will need to empower employees to manage and plan their daily work with freedom to undertake family responsibilities. Companies already proud of a flexible culture must be even more flexible entering the year of 2020.
Build Up Closer Connections
Provide IT support and solutions to ensure efficient and reliable remote working. Internally, adopt more timely and transparent communication methods such as WeChat groups, Zoom calls, Go to meetings, etc. Externally, keep in touch with clients and business partners actively and regularly.
Leaders must actively support any initiatives that could help employees and customers to steer through this crisis together as a partner and friend.
Focus on Human Capital Effectiveness
Many companies in 2020 are focusing on Performance Improvement. Other popular initiatives include Digital and Online training for Crisis Management, Stress Management, Continuous Improvement and Leadership Coaching.
Stay Calm and Reduce the Panic
Set up a CMT (Crisis Management Team) if you do not have one already, to ensure urgent action will be taken when needed. Encourage staff to share their own stories during the outbreak. Psychological assistance may also be needed for special cases.
Mature Leadership is needed during the crisis to show real caring and encouragement to people and help rebuild their confidence. Remind colleagues of the old saying “No winter is insurmountable, no spring will not come”
Search Out New Business Opportunity
Times of change are times of opportunity. Conservatively managed businesses are now forced to make changes and incorporate business activities in new ways and new directions.
Enhance Company Safety System
During this critical period of recovery of production and business in the coming 3-6 months it is important to provide safety training in the plant or office, especially on COVID-19 protection and prevention.
This is also a good time to re-ensure every employee understands the company’s medical insurance policy, fire prevention & control and Employee Assistance Program.