The Next Normal


business leaders have a responsibility to respond to the COVID-19 crisis but they also need to consider how their company will recover and prosper in the post crisis world.


While there is no playbook for the COVID-19 crisis, a typical crisis plays out over three time frames:

  • Respond – Where a company deals with the present situation and manages continuity.
  • Recover –  How a company learns, plans to emerge stronger.
  • Thrive – When the company prepares for the “next normal”.


The priority of leaders at the beginning of a crisis is to focus almost exclusively on response. However, leaders must consider all three timeframes immediately and concurrently in order to effectively and efficiently allocate resources.

The recovery phase for COVID-19 will require unprecedented levels of planning, teamwork and coordination during what promises to be a challenging and protracted recovery period. Planning for this recovery now–even with uncertainty as the crisis continues will be repaid in more precise, considered actions, and a stronger bounce back.  The actions taken during this pre-recovery period can set the foundation for you to thrive and achieve sustained growth and performance as the crisis is managed and is eventually over.


moving From respond to recover: pivot from central command to planning and execution.

Most companies established a crisis management center during the response phase to assess the immediate impacts and provide direction and information to people, customers, suppliers, and other partners about immediate actions to mitigate risks. However, resilient organizations go further and begin contemplating how decisions will affect recovery.  They establish flexible plans for the recovery period.

As a result, in anticipation of recovery, the role of leadership will evolve, from a directive-oriented crisis mindset to enablement-focused orchestration. To anticipate and plan for this pivot to a recovery oriented posture, organizations should ask these questions:

• How do we know when to start pulling back from the containment measures put in place to ensure     the health and safety of our people?

• What are the leading indicators of the rebound to help us best time the launch of our recovery efforts?

• How have customers and markets changed due to COVID-19?  Will this be a lasting change or a transitionary change?  Are our products and services still relevant in a post-COVID-19 market, or must they adapt to new realities?

• How do we restart manufacturing and broader supply chain operations, considering the abrupt and uncoordinated nature in which supply chains were slowed or shut down?

• How do we manage working capital as operations restart and inventory and material orders build in an uncertain market? How can we maintain operational flexibility to serve customers while maintaining adequate liquidity during an extended ramp up period?

• How can technology be leveraged to better orchestrate cross-functional efforts within the company, as well as efforts across our extended supply chain partners, to synchronize supply to updated forecasts and demand signals?


not a new normal – a next normal

There will be unique opportunities  to develop innovations and transformations to define the “next normal.” The COVID-19 crisis is likely to accelerate fundamental teaming and structural changes that were inevitable in any circumstance.

Consider the “virtualization” of work—undertaken from home or elsewhere, with remote collaboration and reduced travel for physical co-location—has been evolving steadily. Today, all around the world, businesses and their talent are learning to communicate, collaborate, and coordinate on virtual platforms, and are understanding the increased efficacy and efficiency such modalities of work can provide.

Virtual work and collaboration tools are likely to create a booming new market space. The necessity to expand virtual work may even lead some companies to consider whether these changes should become more commonplace going forward.

In a major crisis leaders have a tendency to cut and wait.  Winners out of the recovery will be continually working on the plans they had before the crisis hit.  They may shift resources here and there but there is no waiting when you want to thrive and win.




Hokkaido Re-quarantines

Hokkaido prefecture in Japan (population: 5 million) declared a state of emergency February 28th, saw no new cases on March 17th, then relaxed restrictions on March 18th. On April 12th they re-instituted the state of emergency due to a leap in cases. 

This is probably going to be the story around the world. Sadly, like seemingly everything, it is becoming a hyper-political argument in America on when to reopen. It’s true that we cannot hide from this disease forever. A vaccine is a long way off and society cannot function like this long term. When we reopen parts of the economy, we have to understand that we can only do that if precautions are taken. Want a haircut? Sanitize your hands and wear a mask. Want groceries? Sanitize/Mask. Want to go to the movies? You get it.
When infections inevitably flare up locally, 3-week shutdown. Repeat until herd immunity and/or vaccine is (hopefully) available in late 2021 or early 2022. That’s the answer, folks. If your leaders take a different course, good luck to you.



We all want to get back to the places we used to work pre-COVID-19 as soon as we can.  Face to face collaboration and stop and chats seem far away.  

I hope you are your family are doing well. You already know that Robert Half has the largest pool of top talent in the world. In this environment we are uniquely positioned to assist remotely on any level.


To help support our clients during this time, we have rolled out a few new initiatives to allow our consultants and temp workers to work from home efficiently, so I wanted to share them with you. If there are any other projects that you need help with, please feel free to reach out.
  • We have laptops available for any of our contractors to use. They can be shipped directly to their home address within 48 hours.
  • We also have AMAZON WORKSPACES available now as well.
    • Amazon WorkSpaces is deployed within an Amazon Virtual Private Network (VPC), provide each user with access to persistent, encrypted storage volumes in the AWS Cloud, and integrate with AWS Key Management Service (KMS). No user data is stored on the local device. This helps improve the security of user data and reduces your overall risk surface area.
    • We also have a support team available on standby to assist you with this setup, although it should be pretty seamless.
Our goal is to respond quickly with top talent and remote resources when you have immediate needs. Please let me know if I can help.  



Blended workforces, also called on-demand or variable staffing models, are shaking up traditional org charts. They use independent workers or contractors to fill in skills gaps for companies of all sizes, providing the expertise and manpower just when it’s needed. If you need a short course on the power of a blended workforce and think its time for your company to join in, read on.

But What is the Blended Workforce?

Org charts are no longer a compilation of linear boxes filled with full-time employees (FTEs) or W2s. Instead, hiring managers are employing a core group of traditional full-time employees, with a blend of skilled independent contractors, contingent staff, and variable workers.

One common driver of a blended workforce is the short-term need for special skillsets. For example, a service company will hire a temporary worker when a client’s project requires a skill outside of their full-time staff’s knowledge base. Instead of losing the contract, they’ll hire a contractor who is highly recommended and skilled to take on the task. 

Another perk of the blended workforce model is the need to align expenses with billings. Imagine a field services company operating at full capacity with their full-time workforce when a client approaches them about work needed in another state. The service company doesn’t want to add travel expenses to its current operating expenses. Instead, they engage an on-demand workforce in the needed location to expand their geographic reach and satisfy the customer.

How is a Blended Workforce Structured?

A blended workforce includes a mix of permanent and temporary staff including:

  • Full-time employees/FTEs. These staff members are permanent workers whose skills fill an ongoing business need that requires an onsite presence and guaranteed availability during business hours. Examples are senior management, product designers/developers, human resources, and sales.
  • Long-term contractors. Certain skills such as IT networking, graphic design, accounting, and public relations, are not needed for a single project but ongoing company activities. Because the need for these positions varies, companies are opting to form long-term engagements with contractors to fill in these gaps without the expense of an FTE.
  • On-demand workers.  Often called a variable or contingent workforce, these skilled freelancers are often required during a change event at an organization such as the need to service a customer outside of your current region, an upgrade to systems or infrastructure, or to support a national rollout. Enterprises hire short-term staff to fill specific needs and/or cover for employees on family leave or extended absences.

In 2017, Intuit’s CEO estimated that more than 34 percent of today’s workforce was made up of flexible or free agent employees with this number increasing to 43 percent by 2020.

Why are Blended Workforces Taking Over Traditional Full-time Roles?

The primary reason is the power of the digital era. Everyone is connected and teams no longer need to be in the same location to work together. Hiring managers can quickly locate talent with specific skillsets in any geographic location, and individuals like the flexibility and work-life balance this on-demand lifestyle provides.

Benefits of a Blended Workforce

One of the questions you are likely asking is who benefits from a blended workforce? The answer is simply that both companies and individual providers are choosing this model. It makes financial sense for all sides and provides the flexibility both desires.


  • Core employees provide continuity, product strategy, customer relations, and market insight.
  • Flexible staffing reduces overall costs – travel, healthcare, tools – as individuals are hired as independent contractors.
  • Talent is accessible through digital platforms that connect companies and free agent employees.


  • Flexible work is ideal for individuals who enjoy making their own schedules and being in control of their own career.
  • Demand for the unique skills provided by an on-demand workforce results in well-paid gigs or contracts. Hourly rates are often higher than full-time rates.
  • Variety is the spice of life and temporary work provides experience across many industries, company cultures, and regions.

How Contractors Created the Blended Workforce

The role of a contractor or temporary worker has changed dramatically over the past decade. Companies realize that to attract top talent, they need to treat their employees AND their temporary workforce well. Thus, contract, on-demand professionals are embraced as part of the team, offering fresh ideas, proven skills, and extra manpower just when needed. If you walk into today’s enterprises, it is often impossible to differentiate a W2 worker from a short-term contractor.

It’s Time to Start Blending

Managers are already using online marketplaces, including Field Nation, to fill their short-term and long-term needs with skilled and capable workers. As you look at your staffing for 2018, ask yourself how a blended workforce can give it the extra skills you need. Learn about Field Nation ONE, which allows you to manage your W2 employees, vendors, and Field Nation service providers from one simple platform.