Over the past month of COVID-19 lockdowns and closures, millions of jobs have been lost and millions of lives have been put on hold. While we don't know what the future looks like for all these employees, one thing is certain: the way we work will never be quite the same. So as companies look to reassess, recalibrate, and eventually reboot, what have we learned? 

While a situation as unprecedented as the COVID-19 pandemic requires every company to learn quickly, some companies are in a stronger position to manage the crisis than others. They have the flexibility to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances, their services are designed to help other companies adapt as well, and they also exemplify principles that will be all the more important when things normalize.

Make flexibility a top priority

As COVID-19 spreads, every company has had to figure out how to stay afloat in a time of uncertainty and disconnection. But some have stepped up and used their unique resources and expertise to help limit the destruction caused by the pandemic. 

For example, cybersecurity awareness training company NINJIO is offering an emergency episode (starring former SNL star Jon Lovitz) at no charge to teach people how they can work from home safely. NINJIO is also making ten more episodes available to the public. With millions of employees working from home for the first time, hackers suddenly have more potential targets than ever. NINJIO immediately recognized how it could help and took action. 

COVID-19 has reminded companies that they have to be capable of adjusting to changes in the workforce, such as the move toward alternative work arrangements. Almost overnight, they've been forced to make radical changes that they never could have imagined a few months ago - a stark reminder that we can never predict what's coming. 

Hire for the real world

Despite the fact that the current workforce is the most educated and dynamic workforce in history, HR managers can't find the right people for jobs. According to a 2019 survey by the Society for Human Resource Management, companies are struggling to find candidates with essential soft skills like problem solving, creativity, communication, and the ability to handle ambiguity and complexity - exactly the skills a workforce needs to get through an unprecedented crisis like the one we face today. 

These are the skills that Criteria Corp. helps companies identify in candidates. Criteria's mission is to take the guesswork out of hiring by offering comprehensive assessments that provide insights on a candidate's aptitudes, skills, and even emotional intelligence. Despite the fact that companies are making more and more data-driven decisions every day, they're still relying on the same antiquated methods of hiring they've always used: a glance at a resume and an interview. But as many companies have learned over the past few weeks, they don't really know what employees are capable of until they're put to the test. 

Criteria wants to give hiring managers a better idea of how employees will perform as early as possible. COVID-19 is far from the last crisis your company will face - and day-to-day obstacles aren't exactly predictable, either - which is all the more reason why you should use the power of data to start hiring employees who have the skills and temperaments to handle whatever challenges come their way.

Help employees break out of their silos

The most immediate and dramatic effect of the pandemic on our working lives has been the severing of physical connections. This has made effective communication and collaboration indispensable - employees have to be able to work together in real time even if they're hundreds of miles apart.

Catch&Release is a leader in creative content licensing, and its new technology platform lets brands and agencies access content from anywhere on the Internet and license it at the click of a button. The platform also provides a collaborative digital workspace that allows creative teams to manage projects from anywhere they're working. Although employees are by necessity taking greater advantage of the collaborative tools at their disposal right now, they should continue to do so when they finally make it back into the office. Breaking down silos is one positive outcome that we can all be grateful to have experienced.

While it may feel like this crisis will never end, it will. When that happens, the companies that are flexible and adaptable, capable of hiring creative and talented people, and adept at facilitating open communication and cooperation at every level are the ones that will surge ahead.