How have startups pivoted to respond to Covid-19?

Posting date: 23 June 2020

The Covid-19 outbreak has led to a raft of changes across industries, from home working and virtual business meetings through to social distancing and reorganisation. Beyond the day-to-day of how we’re working, we’ve also seen dramatic changes within some industries as to what we’re working on.

One of the most interesting impacts of Covid-19 has been the response of businesses who are trying to not only survive, but also help in the face of a massive global pandemic. Restaurants have moved to online delivery models, fashion labels are manufacturing face masks and life science organisations worldwide are devoting their efforts entirely to finding a vaccine. This is easier for some than others – changing business models and production plans suit organisations that are agile and free from the restrictions that many established large-scale businesses have in place.


With that in mind, we’re taking a look at how startups have pivoted in response to Covid-19.


What does ‘pivot’ mean?

Anyone who’s worked in technology – and particularly the startup world – will be familiar with the pivot. It’s the term given to a change in approach to test a new business model or product, usually after receiving feedback that the original approach is not effective. It’s common in the startup community where entrepreneurs typically follow a lean methodology where everything is questioned – even the purpose of the organisation. Famous organisations that have pivoted include Nintendo, whose previous products have included instant rice and vacuum cleaners, and Twitter, which was once a service called Odeo that allowed people to find and listen to podcasts.


Which startups have pivoted as a response to Covid-19?

The 2010s saw a huge amount of hype generated over 3D printing, yet the technology has so far seemed somewhat underutilised. Now, however, Covid-19 is presenting new demand for additive manufacturing, thanks largely to the stranglehold China has had on manufacturing personal protective equipment and other products that have been in short supply during the pandemic. When Chinese manufacturing came to a halt during lockdown, startups and other businesses stepped up to use 3D printing to fill the gap, with designs for face shields and medical equipment shared on open source platforms to allow anyone to create these much-needed products. The Middle East and North African market have seen 3D printing startups such as Eon Dental pivot to contribute to the Covid-19 battle, reconfiguring machines and temporarily changing their entire business models. Meanwhile, UAE commodities startup Immensa produces 10,000-12,000 face shields a day to export to Europe, the US and Middle East.


Closer to home, Swiss-based fertility tracking organisation Ava Women is researching whether its fertility tracking device can be used to detect early signs of Covid-19. Another life sciences startup, Warsaw Genomics, has moved away from its genetic testing to now offer Covid-19 tests for distribution within Poland’s hospitals, while delivery network Gophr is now delivering pharma, bio-sample and test kids for health services companies.


The fintech market is not exempt from virus-driven pivots. Examples include US neobank Moven selling its direct consumer offering to focus entirely on developing financial technology for other banks, and British credit rating startup Credit Kudos launching a tool that allows freelancers to verify their earnings to benefit from the British government’s financial support.


 What does this mean for me?

These pivots demonstrated the rapidly changing business landscape we are finding ourselves in, and the need for businesses and workers alike to take a flexible, agile approach to the marketplace. While experience in healthcare and life sciences is naturally in demand in the current climate, so too are digital and technology skills to help startups and other businesses pivot and digitalise their offering.

If you’re in the market for a new role, we’d love to help. We have deep experience in our specialist markets and are paying close attention to the current market conditions. Contact us to start a conversation about your next steps.

What you need to know about starting a job during a pandemic

Even in normal circumstances, starting a new job can be a daunting experience. It’s a learning curve that requires patience, adaptability, and social awareness. However, beginning a new role during a pandemic is even more challenging, as you’ll be navigating a huge change while working remotely. Professionals across all industries need to be prepared for the unexpected, as well as the onboarding process and meeting colleagues virtually.   The pandemic has proven to be a stressful time for many businesses, so it’s important anyone starting a new role can manage their own time and work efficiently. Despite the pandemic, many companies across Switzerland and further afield are still hiring. Looking ahead, the Swiss labour market is on the road to recovery after a sharp decline when COVID-19 initially broke out – which is good news if you’re looking to progress your career and land your next role. Here’s how to ensure you make an excellent start to your new role during a difficult time.   Communication is key Communication is the backbone of any business. It’s essential for achieving productivity and maintaining good relationships. However, starting a job in a pandemic means that consistent and quality communication is all the more important. Since you’ll most likely be learning your new role virtually, you must understand the preferred method of communication. Whether your company uses Microsoft Teams, Slack, or Zoom, you’ll need to ensure open lines of communication at all times while you learn the basics of your new role. COVID-19 has forced many businesses to change the way they work, with employees now expected to be more autonomous and flexible. When you’re virtual, you’ll need to make a conscious effort to connect with your co-workers and build relationships across the business. The pandemic has pushed us to embrace remote work and communication is fundamental for success.   Embrace the culture Businesses of all sizes have been forced to adapt their operations during the pandemic, and this includes workplace culture. Now more than ever, employers will want new hires to quickly learn the culture and align themselves with the company’s mission. In the COVID era of remote working, navigating company culture can be difficult due to the lack of in-person conversations. However, it’s important to recognise that culture isn’t bound to a location. Culture is all about how you connect with your co-workers. That’s why during the onboarding process, you will need to listen actively and engage thoroughly during remote calls. Since you likely won’t be in the office often, it can be harder to present yourself as a team player. But with the right transferrable skills and emotional intelligence, you’ll be able to enter a new role and build great relationships from day one.   Organisation must be a priority  Even in regular circumstances, time management is critical for productivity. But with the pandemic disrupting schedules, the ability to keep organised and track your progress couldn’t be more important. This means that when starting a new role you need to first understand what’s expected of you and make a plan that includes key dates and deadlines, with digital tools to help you stay on task. Because everything has changed so much in the COVID world, you will have to be more proactive and willing to share ideas with more experienced members of your team. As the situation evolves, you’ll need to organise your time accordingly and work in a way that gives you the flexibility to prepare for challenging situations. Starting a new job is never easy – but staying organised can make the transition that much easier.   Get in touch with our team of recruitment specialists There’s no question that starting a job in a pandemic is a real challenge for anyone. With the right leadership, co-workers, and tools at your disposal, you can thrive in an unprecedented time. The team here at Swisslinx is dedicated to providing quality career advice to help with your job search. We keep up with the latest trends in recruitment markets, from financial to digital and technology. Contact us to speak with a team member or start your job search now.

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Why recruitment can never be fully automated

Research shows that approximately 1.2 million jobs in Switzerland could be replaced by computer systems, algorithms and robots. However, the roles typically identified as being ‘at risk’ include bar staff, security guards and drivers – not recruitment professionals. On top of that, there are predictions that robotics and automation can exist alongside human professionals, enhancing their work rather than replacing them entirely.   Though AI has permeated every industry and there’s much reservation surrounding the technology, there are many benefits of automation - particularly for recruitment teams. That being said, recruitment remains a fundamentally relationship-led process that machines will never be able to replicate. Here’s why recruitment can never be fully automated and how AI can instead enable companies to redefine their talent acquisition strategies.   Benefits of new technologies While the human touch of recruitment can never be replicated, there are many ways that automation can help. One instance is AI-powered HR technology tools, which can reduce time to hire and improve the quality of hire simultaneously. AI tools and systems help recruitment professionals to sort through large volumes of applications and identify high-quality candidates – two major challenges that many consultants have faced in the wake of coronavirus. Prior to the outbreak of the virus, many companies were already using such technologies and the pandemic has triggered a widespread adoption of the technology, increasing investment in video interviewing software and virtual assistants.   In McKinsey’s The future of work: Switzerland’s digital opportunity report, results revealed that machine learning could increase the potential for automation of retail recruitment to 60% and to an even higher 66% for finance and insurance. So, how will it do this?   How automation and machine learning can help with the recruitment process People Analytics Recruitment has always been data-rich, but candidate information has traditionally been used to distinguish applicants from one another. The introduction of people analytics has enhanced this, repurposing data to predict what a successful candidate look likes. People analytics – similar to data analytics - tracks high-quality candidates and uses this information to create a personality matrix that predicts future successful hires. But while research from Deloitte found that 71% of businesses agree people analytics is high-priority, how much trust can you really place in a data algorithm?   Writing inclusive job descriptions Various AI tools can help with creating job descriptions using inclusive language such as gender-neutral keywords. As research shows that diversity drives financial progress, there’s more than one incentive for companies to strive for a diverse workforce. This application of AI technology demonstrates how automation will continue to benefit the hiring process and wider business goals by lowering the chance of using biased language.   Recruitment during Covid-19 AI-powered systems have proved their worth during the pandemic, preventing recruitment from coming to an altogether standstill and earning a permanent spot in the recruiter’s tech stack. As a result, the pandemic has accelerated the automation of recruitment, but it’s also exposed the crucial role of the recruiter.   The human element The human element of recruitment is about building relationships. Automation tools take admin tasks off the hands of the recruiter - particularly during the earlier stages of the recruitment process. Hiring teams can then reallocate this time to engage with the candidates who are further along in the process and perhaps more qualified for the role. Therefore, experienced consultants are essential when identifying high-quality candidates and during the executive search process – offering a human touch that automation cannot imitate.   Relationship-driven recruitment creates a superior candidate experience which is a crucial talent attraction strategy in a climate with a ‘war for talent’. Specialist recruiters are trusted to create, develop, enhance and maintain relevant talent pipelines so that companies have access to the best candidates from the talent pool. Whether the talent attraction goal is to ensure cultural fit, tackle D&I targets or source fresh talent from new markets, the human element remains the key piece to the puzzle.   AI and machine learning are enhancing the role of the recruiter Though 24% of Swiss employees fear that robots will replace them in their job, this view fails to consider how AI and machine learning can enhance their job role. Hiring professionals can harness technology to see better results in both their time-to-hire and in identifying high-quality candidates. Before the start of the decade, the job market had confidently established itself as candidate-driven, but now most recruiters and employers are faced with the challenge of sorting through high volumes of applications. This is where technology can help to streamline recruitment, whilst allowing consultants to focus on the core relationship-building and communication elements of the process.     Working in harmony with automation A recent report by Deloitte projected that 270,000 new jobs will be introduced in Switzerland by 2025 - the majority created by automation. The key takeaway is that AI technology doesn’t replace skilled professionals - rather, skilled hiring teams are needed to interpret the data that AI generates and add the personal touch. Though it’s still unclear to what extent recruitment will become automated, the role of the recruiter will remain an important one and will never be fully replaced by robots.   Stay ahead of the curve with Swisslinx At Swisslinx, our international team of consultants make sure to keep stay ahead of the curve, despite operating in an ever-changing recruitment landscape. Our deep understanding of our core recruitment markets and considerate approach to communication means we provide a service that is unrivalled by any technology. Contact us to find out how we can tailor our approach to suit your businesses needs.

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