Companies can’t prepare for all possible disruptions, as we have seen with Covid-19, but they can prepare to be proactive, agile, and quick in execution, says Sharon Page, Europe regional director of freight forwarding at e-commerce logistics specialist Tigers
Is a new normal emerging for the air freight sector, as some countries and their economies begin to emerge from the initial effects of the pandemic?
The new normal is that there is no such thing as ‘normal’. Businesses require preparation for ever-evolving conditions and at this point it would be premature to talk about a pre-new stable normality. With the current conditions, we have seen situations of capacity reductions, rising and dropping rates, influx of PPE movements, changes in regulations, increased charters, and rate stabilisation all happening in a very short space of time. Each
time something changes and adjustments need to be made in the sector.
Over and above that, we have seen the end of hard lockdowns in most countries and are now facing the new challenges of second and third infection waves; maybe a more challenging wave in winter will be dealt with via a partial restriction.
Do organisations now have to prepare for several ‘new normals’?
Organisations and leaders need to be adaptable, flexible, and agile to constantly adjust to ever-evolving situations. Flexibility will be the key for any organisation to ensure that they are able to cope with crisis, change and adaptation without disruption to their own operations and to customers’ supply chains. It does also mean staying close to your employees, suppliers, and customers. Having the technology that allows you to do so is essential.
To what extent has your business and/ or your area of the air freight sector adapted to the emerging new normal and/ or recovered from the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic and measures taken to limit its spread?
Remote working was an area that Tigers quickly adapted to to meet the initial challenge of Covid-19. Our cloud-based global operating systems allowed for quick and easy migration from office to remote working, which meant no disruption to our customers and the wellbeing and safety of our team remained intact. We kept fully operational and always had reduced presence in the offices, rotating between the people that worked from home and those that were officed based. It helped to keep the flow of work and, thanks to that, was easier to get back to the current situation where the vast majority of employees are back to work from office.
To what extent have approaches to planning had to change as the effects of the pandemic have progressed?
All original plans from January 2020 went out the window as the pandemic progressed. We acted quickly as a management team; we had daily assessments for the first part, kept close communication, and reacted quickly to every event and development, whether it was a health, personal, or business matter. Planning now needs to have a lot of more shorter-term views linking to a medium and then longer strategy to master the art of change. Constant assessment and adjustment of the shorter-term views are now more critical than ever to ensure long-term sustainable plans. What
is not changing is the values and DNA of the organisation, and you have to make sure these are kept even and especially under radical conditions.
To what extent can companies or organisations meaningfully plan ahead at the current time?
Companies need to keep planning for being an ever-changing organisation as that is the only real constant in this situation. You can’t prepare yourself for all possible disruptions as we have seen with Covid-19, but you can prepare yourself to be proactive, agile, and quick in execution of organisation. We are lucky we always focused on technology which allows us all these things, and we have a superb team.
What are the implications of these changes for your organisation?
The implication of these changes are mainly around time. As an organisation we are investing in more time for conversations, more time for collaboration, and more time for strategic planning that includes many shortterm measured and managed steps. Being a hands-on management team and close to what happens was always part of our DNA; these days this pays off more than before.
How sustainable is this situation?
The situation is sustainable and necessary as the world and the industry continues to adjust to the evolving normal related to Covid-19.