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Covid-19: The Experts at GEM foresee major changes

Published on
24 March 2020

In just a few days, coronavirus has affected the lives of people all over the world. Its health impact is catastrophic and its economic backlash is going to be a challenge to manage. As an establishment of Higher Education, Grenoble Ecole de Management supports all stakeholders in the education sector, and namely its academic partners. Paradoxically, the Covid-19 crisis also brings to light opportunities, here are 12 of them:

1/Working from home & education in the same space is possible!

“In working from home anyone (male or female, parent and mostly parents) need to learn to redefine their time based on their individual needs, their professional needs, their children’s needs and not just the employer’s needs and timeframe. There is no good or bad practice. Each individual has their own lifestyle: juggling all needs simultaneously or allocating time slots for each need. At the end of the day, none of these issues is particularly serious and on the contrary can only help in getting to know oneself and one’s time management needs better. The challenge for employers is to redefine their trust of their employees that they are now only in contact with through email or a videoconference.
Séverine Le Loarne, Expert in Female Entrepreneurship at Grenoble Ecole de Management

2/ Striking the ideal balance between managerial control and total freedom of the employee…and keeping it when we go back to the office.

Remote worker management is often done “blindly” as a remote worker can generally do what he or she wants. There are two ways to reduce this lack of visibility: control or trust. Control could for example consist in setting up notifications that would automatically trigger if the remote worker remains inactive on his or her keyboard for more than 10 minutes. These notifications would impose order and continuing to work with the keyboard; while in actual fact the employee may simply be reflecting on the solution to a problem with a pen and paper. Trust would consist in giving a framework of freedom to the remote worker. Once the challenges of working from home defined, a framework with criteria and indicators would be set up and leveraged by all employees per their requirements. Leadership practices (feedback on activities, team meetings etc) and timelines (objectives and deadlines) would also be included in this framework. Within this framework, the employee would be free, mobile and productive, so if control is painful, trust is worth it.
Why not keep this culture of freedom when we go back to work in the office?”
Karim Benameur, Expert in HR at Grenoble Ecole de Management

3/ New ways of interacting with each other, at a distance

"Social interaction is a basic human need that is currently being undermined by confinement. However, rather than giving rise to a new surge of individualism, people have developed new ways of interacting, either virtually (for e.g. aperitifs amongst friends) or in a real way (for e.g. through solidarity demonstrations for the health personnel on balconies and between windows of apartments in town). The feeling of being in contact with others or of being in unison with others makes it possible to reduce the effect of social withdrawal and the stress created by this situation of social distancing."
Caroline Cuny, Expert in Cognitive Behavior at Grenoble Ecole de Management

4/ The Micro Adventure: the next emerging trend in our leisure and tourism practices?

"If home sometimes seems boring to us, we are now trying to appreciate it and turn it into a "Domestic Odyssey" as Mona Chollet refers to it. We are going to rediscover this space that we thought we already knew every corner of. On social networks, best practices and challenges of all types are being shared, putting these square meters back into play and giving them a whole new flavor. This is the whole principle of the micro adventure, as revealed by Alastair Humphreys. For this English adventurer, author and motivational speaker; this short, close-to-home adventure in our everyday life. It refers to the tourist trend - staycation – in which holidays are spent at home. In which ways will this confinement impact our lifestyles and our leisure activities? Which new activities will emerge? How will tourism stakeholders reinvent themselves?
Helene Michel, Expert in innovation and serious games at Grenoble Ecole de Management

5/ Learn to decipher fake news during a health crisis

"A fake piece of news has a number of characteristics; the main ones that make you suspicious are: the headline, the credibility of the message sender and the adequacy of both the text and images used. Fact verification is now a possibility for all individuals, for example, with the decodex tool created by the Daily French Newspaper, "Le Monde".
Yannick Chatelain, expert du digital à Grenoble Ecole de Management.

6/ The Internet will not collapse! However digital hygiene is becoming a must.

"The internet will certainly not saturate, some services definitely will. However, it is unlikely that they will all saturate at once. For instance, YouTube lowered resolution on March 20th 2020 to relive networks, a change that is not indispensable but that will alleviate and improve the current situation for the world. Every company offering an online service could think about putting in place this kind of initiative. It is also everyone’s responsibility, for those who know how to, to be reasonable in their use of internet connection, to not stream HD, to work offline when possible, to use audio rather than video exchanges where possible etc. In addition to adopting responsible digital behaviors, those who are fortunate enough to be able to work from home, should pay even more attention maintaining healthy digital practices.”
Pierre Dal Zotto, Co-coordinator of the Digital Organization and Society (DOS) Chair, at Grenoble Ecole de Management

7/ Mass training for online teaching

"We have set up a mass training all of our teachers on the key principles of distance teaching and our pedagogical engineers are accompanying them one to one custom needs. The overall atmosphere at GEM, and between education institutions, is highly collaborative. Best practices, tips, and free online tutorials, are being shared by education establishments, teachers, online education platforms, etc. This life-size emergency experience will provide substantial insight for after the crisis. We will be able to propose more distance learning programs while improving the quality of our onsite programs."
Armelle Godener, Director of Academics at Grenoble Ecole de Management

8/ A remarkable drop in pollution.

"For this first time in three decades – and without facing a pandemic such as the one we are currently experiencing – the world experienced a record CO2 drop in 2019 to produce its electricity (-2%). Will the coronavirus reinforce this downward trend in 2020? Certainly…Since the beginning of the year, the coronavirus health crisis has forced companies around the world – and primarily those in China – to operate at a slower pace, leading to a significant drop in CO2 emissions, in addition to the spectacular drop in pollution visible even from space! Once the crisis is over, it is true that a rebound effect is possible and it would cancel out this good news for the planet. However, there is good hope that this pandemic will allow us to learn lessons about our production and consumption patterns and it will confirm this positive trend inversion, even if minor".
Carine Sebi, Coordinator of the Energy for Society Chair at Grenoble Ecole de Management

9/ Relocation of companies to countries closer to large consumption hubs.

"The epidemic is going to accelerate an already initiated change in the organization of the economy. For several years, some multinationals have been trying to reduce the dependence between their production chains and the economy of Asia and China. The goal being to reacquire control of the most strategic sectors. Covid-19 will probably cause an acceleration of the phenomenon known as "nearshoring" (a gradual return of part of the final assembly capacities, to areas closer to large consumption hubs)."
Jovana Stanisljevic, Expert in Economics at Grenoble Ecole de Management

10/ Rebuilding Trust in our Health systems

"Individual and collective trust are a requirement for any effective health system. However, trust requires accepting that you cannot control everything, in other words, that you are vulnerable. In relation to the overall erosion of confidence that has marked our societies for several years; I am convinced that the current crisis will allow us to establish new forms of trust based on skills, integrity and kindness between the public and all health stakeholders."
Charles-Clemens Rüling, Coordinator of the Chair Public Trust in Health and Director of Research at Grenoble Ecole de Management

11/ A step towards economic peace?

"WHAT IF…confinement through obligation is an opportunity to reconnect with lost relationships?

  • An opportunity to put us back into contact with our bodies, to rest, to take the time to relax,
  • to go inside, as incoherence obliges us to think differently,
  • with our weaknesses, vulnerabilities, because that is what makes us human,
  • when we slow down, emergencies no longer need be,
  • detail and beauty reappear in the space of slowing down,
  • we wish those we are separated from to be good health, to be close to them, and this is the time to tell them we love them,
  • with nature, we finally rediscover the joy of a breath of fresh air,
  • with work, we are forced to manage it otherwise, and our beliefs on ""what we need to do" are wiped away by the virus,
  • with profit, there is now only continuity, support and care for others,
  • with love, in all its forms, simply because we need it.

What if this situation obliged us to question the purpose of life? What it means to be a human? What our roles in society and in business are? When I discover all the momentum and relationships revealed by this situation, I am full of joy."
Dominique Steiler - Director of the Economic Peace, Mindfulness and Well-Being at Work Chair at Grenoble Ecole de Management

12/ Business strategy: Beyond lessons, 3 lessons Already

"The first one, is that we must, as of tomorrow, within our organizations, be the promoters of a human ecology. If we do not understand that, we can no longer live the sole aim of our own and immediate interests, if we do not understand that to be passive about the general interest is to be active in the destruction of society, it is that we have understood nothing! We must make the world able to speak. Better still, we have to be able to hear it. The second lesson: as Gaspard Koenig says, is that it will be necessary to redefine economic models to integrate resilience. The third: it will be necessary to invent radically new organizational models; no longer guided by a single imperative, to do everything to prevent anything serious from happening again."
Loïck Roche, Dean and Director of Grenoble Ecole de Management and Expert in Organizational Strategy.

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