By Andrea Harwood Palmer
Brian Rollo, a leadership coach and cultural business strategist, is re-examining his business model in response to the business climate caused by COVID-19 and challenges employers will face.
“I’m always thinking, ‘What is three steps from now? How is this going to change business for me, and for the people I help?’ There are three key things businesses will need to think about as we move into a new normal,” said Rollo, who does business as Brian Rollo Consulting.
“First, in what way do we bring people back into the office now that we’ve built the infrastructure for them to work remotely. How many and who? Or is it more efficient to allow people to work from home? Do we build a hybrid workforce?” said Rollo.
“Second, there’s going to be real conversations going forward on social distancing and wearing masks. If everyone is back at work, how do we navigate some staff feeling comfortable attending closely-packed meetings when others don’t? What does that look like? What if some people are more comfortable wearing a mask while others are not, and will that become its own source of unintentional bias?”
“Third, businesses will need to think about sick day policies. In the past, most companies had a set amount of sick days or PTO. If you used up those days, you better be at work whether you’re healthy or not. And if you use PTO, you’re giving up a vacation day. So the unconscious prompt is to come to work sick, even contagious. There’s going to be real liability ahead if your policies encourage employees to come to work sick and it causes someone else to catch COVID-19.”
Rollo spent many years in corporate senior management and HR, managing employees both in-person and remotely.
“From my time on the front lines, in HR and in senior management, I’m trained to see both sides—the employee and the employer. I understand how leadership needs to reduce liability while also keeping people coming to work so they can do what they’re supposed to do. There are two sides to the issue, and companies will need to balance them both. It’s helpful to have a consultant who thinks about these things all the time,” said Rollo.
Rollo said he started to transition his professional services implementation in March, when businesses began closing both voluntarily and by mandate.
“I had to pivot, like many of us. I had in-person engagements that were suddenly canceled. I had business that evaporated overnight. I’ve had to think about what companies need now that they didn’t need before, and about what they don’t need now that they needed previously,” said Rollo.
During the shutdown, Rollo has presented customizable, interactive live webinars on managing remote employees and virtual teams. One of his popular webinars, “Advancing Your Workplace Culture In Challenging Times”, focuses on how businesses can move forward and keep employees engaged during a crisis.
“Webinars implemented for a company are highly customizable to the business. I meet with the leadership team ahead of time to see exactly what they want to get out of it and do my best to make it collaborative so we all arrive at the intended results,” said Rollo.
“If I have 40 people in a virtual room, I can put them out into breakout groups of three or four people for small group discussion. It’s almost easier than if they were sitting in the same room physically,” said Rollo.
Though interactive webinars have been the most tactically relevant transition for Rollo during the shutdown, his main business focus is organizational development consulting, executive coaching and leadership development. Rollo is working on a new leadership coaching program.
“The focus is on helping leaders adapt to this new normal, and adapt to what people need from them. Oftentimes that is different than what they needed before,” said Rollo.
“Going forward, I want them to know I am there to help them tackle these problems head on. There is a lot of uncertainty businesses have right now. Many feel like they’re in a bubble because they’re trying to solve problems on their own … An advantage I have is that I talk to so many different people every single day. I’m able to see what’s working and what’s not working,” said Rollo.
Rollo’s website is www.brianrollo.com and his phone is 518-832-9857.
By Andrea Harwood Palmer