The rapid spread of COVID-19 has upended countless norms and disrupted the day-to-day flow of virtually every company on the planet. Two weeks ago, a huge portion of the workforce was hard at work in their offices. Now, as world leaders encourage social distancing, many people are working remotely from their homes.
While almost half of Americans work from their homes on occasion, the shift to such a huge swath of the workforce conducting business from their homes—as opposed to the office—presents technological and organizational challenges for companies around the world, regardless of their culture.
Adjusting to Remote Business Practices
Together, many companies are adjusting to these new conditions in real time and figuring out how to run their businesses in such a fluid situation. To help its members navigate this complicated time, ASUG has begun hosting daily Think Tanks, platforms where members can openly share their experiences and hear how their peers and colleagues are dealing with a certain issue. ASUG Think Thanks are online discussion-based opportunities for users to connect, network, and discuss challenges they are facing. Hosted on Zoom, each Think Tank covers a specific topic related to SAP, ranging from finance to supply chain.
“The Think Tanks offer customers a chance to connect and share when face-to-face channels just aren’t an option,” said Danny Pancratz, director of product development at ASUG. “This is particularly helpful with the disruption to the status quo, increased system demands, and shifting priorities we are seeing in the work environment.”
SAP Customers Sharing Expertise and Advice
The Think Tanks typically follow the same model. After hearing from an attendee who presents a problem or situation they are currently facing, the rest of the participants offer their own expertise and advice. The conversation then opens to other relevant topics the group wants to discuss.
“The great thing about the Think Tanks is that there’s both a social element but also an ASUG/SAP-focused element that brings people together with their peers from similar functional areas to discuss how our businesses are reacting and adapting in the wake of COVID-19,” said Pancratz. “These are opportunities to make connections during this time of social distancing.”
The daily regimen of Think Tanks started and will continue through the foreseeable future, as employees continue working from home. So far, they have offered a fascinating picture of how several companies are dealing with the realities of conducting business right now.
How HR Is Coping with COVID-19
In the second daily Think Tank ASUG hosted—which was focused on HR—several attendees discussed their company’s workforce situations, where exactly employees are working, and how they are attending to HR matters. Ed Hagar, manager of compensation, benefits, and HRIS at Ingalls Shipbuilding, spoke about how many of the company’s employees cannot work from home because they are welders, carpenters, and pipefitters who are needed on-site.
“All week, we’ve quickly been coming out with a pay policy, rules on the use of sick and liberal leave,” he said. “It has been a hectic week in HR.”
Ingalls Shipbuilding has been running lists of their employees, categorizing them in groups such as which counties they live in, which employees are requesting leave, their age, and their work department. Each day, the company keeps close track of which employees are working remotely, which are on-site, and which are on leave. Ingalls Shipbuilding has also developed guidelines for employees who recently traveled or might need to go into quarantine, and it has devised a special policy to pay sick employees for up to five days.
“We don’t want people coming in if they are feeling sick,” Hagar said.
The State of the Supply Chain Today
In a Think Tank focused on supply chains, the attendees discussed how their companies are getting important information out to large workforces scattered among different locations.
“Our manufacturing areas are working. We have repeated in daily safety meetings the importance of hygiene and keeping their distance,” said Michele Ohlson, manager of ERP solutions at Olin Corporation. “It’s hard, because some people are working from home, while some people aren’t able to.”
Think Tanks as Peer-to-Peer Connections
As ASUG members grapple with their response to COVID-19, these Think Tanks will continue to provide a great avenue for attendees to understand in real time how their colleagues are approaching the business challenges that have been changing week to week.
“These are outlets for connection, with opportunities to discuss the SAP-specific impacts this disease has on business,” Pancratz said. “Ultimately, the Think Tanks will act as a new peer-to-peer connection that provides value well beyond the timeline of COVID-19.”
Visit the ASUG events page to see a calendar of upcoming Think Tanks and register for the next one that matches your interests.