A Different Kind Of Disruption

March 17, 2020

We’ve been talking about disruption for years. With technological advances accelerating at an ever-increasing pace, digital disruption has been causing companies to rethink how they run their businesses in order to maintain profitability.

While technology has impacted the workplace, changing how we operate in and out of the office, the Coronavirus “pandemic” is also affecting work – and everything else as well. From education to shopping to traveling, our lives have been temporarily disrupted as leaders put measures in place to protect the population and slow the spread of the illness.

Like most other businesses, Konica Minolta has a thorough and comprehensive business continuity plan in place to protect our employees, our customers, and our business, and we have shared our plan via a public statement.

In the U.S., we have formed a cross-functional team of business leaders who are meeting on a daily basis to ensure the timely and appropriate sharing of information based on verified data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the U.S.

Our employees are currently working from home in accordance with the CDC’s recommended “social distancing” practice, utilizing the same tools we provide to our customers to work remotely, share documents and collaborate from wherever they are.

Fortunately for Konica Minolta, we are well prepared. Businesses like ours, that have already started adopting practices to utilize technology that supports remote work, find the current situation much less challenging. They have systems already in place for their employees to have meetings, share files from wherever they are, which recently is from their homes. Time Magazine is calling this situation the “World’s Largest Work-at-Home Experiment.” Many workers are now being now required to utilize technology with which they may be unfamiliar in order to get their work done.

Our consistent message to dealers in recent years has revolved around the importance of transforming their business and embracing the Workplace of the Future™. We have been innovation focused, urging partners to acknowledge the crucial role digital workplace technologies play in enabling digital dexterity and shaping the employee experience, particularly where we’re experiencing a generation shift towards a nomadic work-from-anywhere workstyle. This is now our reality. Ready or not, everyone needs to pivot and transform in order to continue working as usual.

At Konica Minolta, our corporate objectives outline how we support and serve the digital workplace:

  • To be a leading-edge technology (digital) company, creating new, sustainable value in society.
  • To be a trusted advisor to our customers and dealers, offering best in breed solutions (either homegrown or through mutually beneficial partnerships) supporting productivity, creativity and mobility.
  • To develop a highly empowered and motivated workforce underpinned by an industry leading employee experience.
  • To create a working case study of the Workplace of the Future™ by developing and implementing systems and technologies to increase operational efficiency and business intelligence in all areas.

Companies that need assistance taking steps to implement digital technology can rely on our IT Services Division, All Covered, a consultative offering that helps businesses uncover opportunity and successfully execute or navigate digital transformation. From content services, the Cloud, Unified Communications and collaboration tools, we offer the future of IT support.

Beyond technology, while managing remote teams, there are a few practices myself and other leaders at Konica Minolta adhere to in order to reassure employees and maintain morale.

Communication is key

During times like this, with information coming from every news and social media outlet, everywhere you turn there is something “breaking,” and you don’t know what to believe. Things are changing by the minute, and employees want to know what is going on and what is expected of them. Sharing plans and information with employees can help reduce some of the stress they are likely experiencing. Keeping everyone informed, making sure the right people are included in communications and avoiding separate conversations and emails behind the scenes that result in a change in direction are relatively easy ways to maintain alignment.

The need to be flexible

As a global company, we maneuver across all time zones. Accounting for multiple time zones can often make it difficult to schedule meetings. Compromise amongst our leaders and staff to accommodate each other has really helped. In cases where certain team members’ locations present a twelve-hour times difference, the start time of weekly meetings is rotated so everyone shares the burden of working outside their normal core hours, perhaps working a little later than usual, other times getting up a little earlier than usual. Exercise patience with schedules and other obligations colleagues have outside of work, as they also navigating disruptions in their personal lives and in their households.

Have the right technology – and make sure it works

Nothing is more frustrating than time wasted due to connectivity issues. We have all been there, and there are some pretty funny memes and videos out there depicting bad conference calls and pointing out recurring themes.  Periodic testing of remote systems is always a good practice. Our partner Google just compiled a great article with helpful tools and resources that you can use to stay connected and productive during this prolonged period of work-from-home.

Be there for your managers

During challenging times, it’s imperative to be accessible to your direct reports. Check in with your managers to find out how they are handling things, how their staffs are reacting and what you can do to help. Konica Minolta has provided our managers with FAQs to help direct their teams during this crisis and help them answer questions that might come up from their employees. Also, try to avoid cancelling recurring meetings with your staff. Even if there are no urgent agenda items, direct reports often look forward to one-on-one time with their managers to ask questions and discuss initiatives they are working on to help them move forward.

Hopefully we will find some positive takeaways from this extremely challenging time in the world. No doubt we will become more efficient as we sharpen our skills and improve our comfort level with remote technology.

We encourage employees to follow advice from reliable sources to stay safe and healthy, and enjoy the extra time gained from telecommuting by relaxing and spending more time with loved ones. Remember that we are in this together, and this too shall pass.

Rick Taylor
President and Chief Executive Officer

Rick Taylor directs all aspects of company strategy for the U.S., Canada and Mexico, overseeing the day-to-day operation of all corporate business sales and service, as well as marketing, administration, finance, legal and training. Konica Minolta, Inc.’s first non-Japanese executive officer, his vast industry experience includes creating new revenue streams while maintaining a cohesive and productive sales strategy for business partners. Prior to joining Konica Minolta, Taylor served as President and CEO at Toshiba America Business Solutions, Inc. He has been named an “Executive of the Year” eleven times by Marketing Research Consultants and is the recipient of the Friends of Golf’s 2016 Spirit of Giving Award, the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Mahwah, NJ Regional Chamber of Commerce and the 2018 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Association of Corporate Growth. Taylor is also an Honorary Blue Angels Foundation Board Member.