HR Leadership Discussion Forum, Americas – Covid-19 | Thursday 16th April

  • Thought Leadership

FWB Park Brown and Employer Flexible joined together to host the second Americas HR Leadership Online Roundtable on Thursday April 16, 2020 to share ideas, talk about the challenges in the current atmosphere and act as a place of support.  Mary McIntyre, Managing Director – Houston & Lauren Vielock, Consultant of FWB Park Brown and Wade Vielock, Vice President of Client Services & Tina Gutierrez, Director, Human Resources of Employer Flexible hosted the hour-long event. A few highlights of the conversation included communication between employer and employees, transitioning away from social distancing and Stay at Home initiative, and what the post-Covid-19 work environment could look like.


While communication within companies is always vital, it is even more so now. To keep employees engaged, companies are increasing their communication across the organisations. This includes providing them with an outline of the company’s HSE and safety measures to include office building hygiene, providing gloves and/or masks and protocols if an employee becomes ill.  Some companies are holding regular Town Hall Meetings, providing an open forum for employee questions and keeping them informed of the actions the companies are taking during this time. Other companies are sending out weekly newsletters or providing other sorts of regular communications. All agreed that keeping in contact with all employees and being open and transparent is essential moving forward.

Transitioning Away from Social Distancing

Companies are starting to plan how to move forward after the lockdown is lifted. Overall, companies are following Government Protocols, both Federal and State, and await their announcement to return to “normal” life. The timing of this is left to the Governments of the States and Countries as every location is different and is reacting differently. Even then many organisations are planning to wait a week after the announcement to bring people back into the office. In an effort to provide an environment of safety, companies are planning to continue taking an abundance of caution with increased sanitation and continued testing. Some employers are also planning to allow employees at least a month to determine when they feel comfortable coming back into the office. Most companies will be flexible with employees who have additional challenges, such as school closures and underlying health concerns. Depending on how long the Pandemic has serious impact to “business as usual”, employers will re-evaluate the requirement of employees working in the office in an on-going manner.

A New Work Environment (Post-Covid-19)

As companies try to return to “normal” after the Covid-19 lockdown, there is a question of what exactly that might look like. Companies are evolving and changing rapidly in this tumultuous atmosphere, however not all changes are detrimental and may even push us into a more progressive and flexible work environment.

This crisis has changed the shape of the business world and how people work. Employers are starting to understand that many people are quite productive working from home and may start considering work schemes where employees will divide their time between the office and their home.  Some organisations have seen benefits from employees working from home and a continuation of productivity and, in some cases, an increase in productivity. There are predictions that “social distancing” may stay in effect in some form until 2022 which will also reinforce this new way of working.

Another element that will transfer to a Post-Covid-19 environment is video conferencing. Zoom, Skype, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, Bluejeans and other mediums for video conferencing are being heavily utilised during the lockdown, for work and personally. While organisations are using this for team interactions and client meetings, this has been greatly beneficial for employers in their hiring process as well. Particularly for high level appointments in national and global companies, Executives would often travel long distances to interview prospective candidates face-to-face, costing time, money, and productivity. In the current environment, Executives have realised the benefit of video interviews due to travel bans and as a result, are more willing to change their hiring process in the future.

One other item that was discussed, was the challenge of working across countries and, even, states across the U.S. due to the difference in how each are handling the crisis and the legislation involved. In particular, with the government programs in various countries and enhanced unemployment rates/furlough schemes in place, companies who wish to bring back their laid off or furloughed employees risk them not returning. This is especially true for hourly, non-exempt employees who could collect more money on unemployment benefits and can stay at home which provides more safety. These are challenges that everyone is working through as legislation changes and need to stay on top of as more changes are expected.

For a downloadable copy of the above article please click here.

The Americas HR Leadership Online Roundtable will be hosted on Zoom weekly with the core session lasting an hour, with a further 30 minutes available for informal discussion and networking for those who wish. For further details on this, or future events, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Mary McIntyre ( or Lauren Vielock (

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FWB Park Brown
FWB Park Brown continues to deliver its full range of services which includes providing support and advice during the Covid- 19 Public Health and developing global economic crisis.
We have established a range of cross sector as well as sector focused discussion forums for Chairs, NEDs, CEOs and all the main business management disciplines.  We are also working closely with the Scottish HR Leadership Group to provide constructive support including discussion forums and Q & As.
Summaries of the discussions will be posted on our news section and also on LinkedIn.
For further information about any of these forums please contact us via

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