Local CEO Insights & Reactions to the COVID-19 Crisis

Gilman Partners hosted a virtual CEO roundtable with regional leaders in a wide variety of industries to talk about their reactions to the COVID-19 crisis, what they’ve learned, and how they view the path forward. Many of the CEOs reported similar experiences, observations, challenges and hopes – just more evidence that we are truly “all in this together.” Here were some of the key takeaways from the discussion:

 

  • Despite the many changes to operations, work locations, budgets and staffing, the CEOs in our group haven’t lost sight of organizational culture. In addition to holding regular team meetings, many have found ways to infuse fun and humor into the workplace and one even noted that his team has organically created a new practice so popular he believes it will continue even after his team returns to the office.
  • The overall sentiment from the CEOs was that working from home has been an overall positive experience for their organizations. The leaders have been pleased with the productivity of their workers and some noted they will be more open to employees working from home in the coming months. One CEO mentioned that workers in more transactional roles have become even more productive without the normal workplace distractions.
  • Though some organizations plan a full return to the office after stay-at-home orders are lifted, others are going to let employee sentiment influence the timeline. One organization is implementing shifts of four ten-hour days for its manufacturing workers and allowing office staff to work from home through Memorial Day.
  • One CEO noted that even if his sales team is cleared to travel, customers will ultimately determine if their meetings will be conducted in person or remotely. He has invested in training all of his sales leaders to pitch and sell in a virtual environment as well as how to facilitate meetings using several of the most common online platforms (Zoom, Teams, etc.)
  • Several of the CEOs agreed that the drastic changes we’ve experienced in the past several weeks have shined a light on some of their organization’s leaders who have stepped up to meet the challenge. Their exceptional performance during these difficult times may result in new leadership and professional development opportunities in coming months.
  • The pandemic is changing how consumers spend their time and money. This is going to force many organizations to re-think their product and service offerings to meet the shifting demands.
  • Some of the organizations are still hiring workers, but are conducting their interviews virtually or by phone. There is still some uncertainty about whether to hire or onboard new employees without first meeting them in person, but those sentiments might start to shift.

Ultimately, the CEOs in our discussion were cautiously optimistic about the coming months. Many noted they’re looking forward to the social and creative benefits of getting their teams back to the office, but also want to be careful to protect the health and safety of employees and others.