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How OD practitioners can support businesses through COVID-19 driven changes: Thoughts from Nims Dhawan

With things constantly changing in regard to COVID-19 and how businesses and individuals are being asked to act and respond to the crisis, finding ways that OD practitioners can help support organisations through this intensely difficult time is rising in priority for many of us.

Many organisations are facing difficulties like never before, whether that’s in redundancies, manufacturing capacity, profit, and service delivery – not to mention implementing all kinds of new hygiene and distancing rules to keep people safe. 

Organisations are going through a huge amount of change in a very condensed period of time, and OD practitioners are ready to help out and support wherever we can. I spoke with my colleague Nims Dhawan to see how her experiences of supporting organisations through COVID-19 changes has been, and how she sees things going forward in the future. 

“I think we’re still within the grip of COVID-19 and it’s affects on the workplace. Many organisations are going through a lot of turmoil – they may have never dealt with disruption on this kind of scale before. They’re perhaps making a portion of redundancies, or changing structures to reduce costs. When we change the structure of an organisation, especially if it’s one where the structure perhaps wasn’t particularly effective in the first place, we see real issues of lack of direction, confusion – people become afraid for their jobs and their organisations. It causes tensions and in a time like this, if we can reduce tensions we should be working to make that happen.

I think going forwards, with all the change COVID is bringing about, we’ll start to see more people and organisations asking questions like ‘are we structured in the most effective way for people to deliver our services’. If organisations want to look at how they can restructure and reorganise themselves, maybe because of a switch to virtual or remote working, maybe because of a change in product capacity and output, there are so many factors and influences at play here. This is where an OD practitioner or consultant will really benefit your organisation and employees to provide clarity in these confusing times. 

I think we can all agree this is going to be an on-going piece and we’ll see a shift in terms of behaviours and cultures and attitudes in the workplace. Already we’re seeing people start to realise the scale of the impact COVID is having on every level of business, not just in immediate terms like profit or production. We’re going to have to work at a much more psychological level and find out the meaning behind some of the issues that have risen. Were they already here and COVID just made them worse? Or is it as a result of COVID that we can open the discussion and start making changes? It’s going to be very much an ongoing process for people and organisations and we need to look beyond what we’ve always just accepted on the surface and actually start looking for ways to improve organisations and the experiences of people in those spaces.”

To find out more about Nims Dhawan and her work with H3 consulting, you can visit her website.

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