Gustaf Ekelund

Gustaf Ekelund is a communication expert who has specialised in digitalisation for the past 20 years. In 2005, Gustaf co-founded Netigate and is still active in the company today. He has helped many large companies such as Electrolux, IKEA, SEB, and Saab in their digitalisation journeys. In this interview, Gustaf shares his thoughts on the corona crisis and how he believes companies should begin to prepare themselves for the future.

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How has Covid-19 affected companies around the world?

The crisis is forcing companies to change and digitalise. It has been the development of technology over the past 20 years that’s now enabling the rapid digitisation of processes that companies need as a result of Covid. The consequences of this crisis are enormous, and will probably impact us for much longer than we anticipate.

…there will be analysis of what was done, not done, and what could have been done differently

The crisis management that we’re seeing right now is operational, and it’s happening day by day. When we eventually manage the spread of the virus, we’re going to enter the next phase of the crisis. When this happens, there will be an analysis of what was done, not done, and what could have been done differently. As a result, many companies will likely come under review and scrutiny, and this could affect their survival.

How can companies survive the economic crisis?

It’s important to dare to make decisions. Right now, it’s important to act. A decision may be wrong, but the importance of making decisions that propel the business forward may be the same decisions that ensure the business’s survival.

What is important to consider when communicating with employees are working remotely as a result of the pandemic?

The most important thing is to have continuous contact with employees and to be responsive. How are your employees feeling? How is the crisis affecting them? It’s also important to recognise that remote working will work well for some and not for others. As a leader, you should be clear about what needs to be done.

How can managers communicate more effectively during the crisis?

Here, too, it’s about having continuous contact with employees. Depending on the managerial role you have, and the individuals in your team, communication should be adapted. In general, for most employees, it’s going to be about creating clarity and security. For instance, where are we now? What is the expectation moving forwards? What happens next week?

It’s important to remain dynamic and flexible. Prepare for conditions to change quickly.

Since the crisis is still developing day by day, one can’t assume that the situation will look the same in a week’s time. It’s important to remain dynamic and flexible. Prepare for conditions to change quickly.

What role does the board play in a crisis like this?

Each company’s board of directors has a crucial role in the organisation’s future. You cannot just sit back and listen. On the contrary, now is the time to go in, be present, and support the management team.

You have been involved in developing Netigate’s latest product: The Covid-19 Stakeholder Report (360° view). Can you tell us more about this and why companies should invest?

Covid-19 Stakeholder Report is a collection of surveys that are continuously sent out to employees, managers, customers, board members and suppliers. With the help of these surveys, companies are able to collect feedback from all stakeholders during the corona crisis.

At both organisational and individual levels, we’re going to want to look back and reflect on the crisis. Depending on who you speak to, this reflection will look very different. This is why it’s crucial to hear every side of the story.

Failing to listen to stakeholders during this crisis means companies can run the risk of making incorrect decisions. At both organisational and individual levels, we’re going to want to look back and reflect on the crisis. Depending on who you speak to, this reflection will look very different. This is why it’s crucial to hear every side of the story.

Can your company demonstrate continuous contact with stakeholders, with documentation on how each group was managed during the crisis? The Covid-19 Stakeholder Report will allow you to do just that. The reports will also help you to make decisions based on data from the people who matter most– not just a gut feeling.

Once corona is under control, many companies will need to show what measures were taken during the crisis. In the directors’ annual report, for example, there will be several pages dedicated to how the company handled the effects of Covid-19. Our new offering is an effective and practical way of demonstrating a structured approach to collecting data to make well-informed decisions.

Who should invest in our Covid-19 Stakeholder Report?

Ideally, management teams will recognise the benefits of this. You will get an overview of how the company is performing and perceived, but also be able to report effectively to the board and owners.

What can companies expect after investing in the Covid-19 Stakeholder Report?

Netigate supports your company, to ensure you start in the best way. First, we assess how often the questionnaires should be sent out. Is it once a month? Once a week? Or maybe one, single distribution? The approach depends on the target group and how your organisation is structured. Then, it’s a case of being consistent, analysing the results, and making informed decisions. It’s as much a sanity check as it is a logbook.

Hopefully, the COVID crisis will be behind us in six month’s time. We just need to recognise that we will have a new normal to deal with.

Read more about our Covid-19 Stakeholder Report.