We are already looking at identifying the post-pandemic new normal. In this context, we should analyse some elements to outline the dynamics of the European affairs market.
Of course, the first notion to be defined is the time horizon by when we will have the new normal. If we follow the mathematical approach, with the duration of a pandemic set at 18 months, it is expected that this autumn will be the desired moment. However, the change will not be made directly, there is a period of transition to arrive at stable new normal. We will talk about months of transition and of course we have many variables to interpret. Due to these dynamics we have the concept of continuous process to reach the new normal.
Let's draw now a picture of Brussels at the beginning of 2022; so what would the new normal be in a year’s time.
The pandemic will not change the goal of activity in the European capital. The structures present here will continue to have a mandate to represent the HQ of the corporation or members of an industrial / non-governmental sector to favourably influence the legislative process.
We will, however, have an evolution of the approach being much more focused on ˝measurable results˝ rather than on “perception of impact˝. Based on this concept, and to focus the activity, the 2022 budget will be defined, which will seek to answer direct questions such as: what is the objective of the Brussels office? how many people are needed? what communication activities do we carry out? how necessary is it to travel for business?
Some suggestions to outline the strategy:
Define the objective of the organization together with colleagues from outside Brussels.
Analyse the human resources, which in the case of entities in Brussels represents about two thirds of the budget. Prioritize this segment! There is trauma and many operational tissues are damaged.
Reanalyse the technical capacity, through an extension of the resource to online events and digital communication.
Structure internal communication, including a clear calendar of physical and virtual meetings. Basically, two categories of events will appear: physical and virtual. Of course, many expect a hybrid solution will be imposed, but I don't think we will have this format in abundance in a stable market. In drawing this conclusion, I take into account in particular the cost of a mixed approach, but also the lack of excitement that virtual debate can generate, even in the combined approach.
Have a realistic discussion about working from home or office. Now, for sure, we know the pros and cons of both activities. But let's not forget that before the pandemic, teleworking was not encouraged by the employers.
Reanalyse the market where you operate. The pandemic has led to some extinctions and brings new opportunities, cannibalization and consolidation.
Consider marketing and branding, and here I am not just referring to the organization in which you work, but also to the personal one. The crisis has taught us that trust in people is crucial to succeeding in the labyrinth of European affairs.
Dan LUCA / Brussels
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