44 (139) 2020
Download PDF-version

Editorial note

Defining the New Normal. Adapt or die

by Michael Dembinski, chief advisor and Dorota Kierbiedź, membership director, BPCC
Header black typewriter 200


Here is the second issue of Contact Magazine Online of the Covid-19, with a focus on insights and practical advice about running a business during a time of unprecedented change. We present four interviews and 22 articles from our members, which between them cover a broad range of business issues.

Reading them, you'll see what firms are doing to survive the storms currently ravaging the global economy as the pandemic continues to spread – though it seems that Poland and the UK have both turned the corner and – at the time of writing – numbers of new infections and deaths are under control.

We talk to Adam Krasoń, country managing partner of PwC in Poland about the business trends that the pandemic has accelerated, in particular the process of digitalisation. He sees opportunities in building a more balanced and resilient future in which everyone can grow.

Kingfisher plc's Castorama brand continues to grow in strength across Poland, with new store openings planned as Poles turn to home improvement as the lockdown eases. Sébastien Krysiak, Castorama Polska’s CEO outlines his plans for growth post-Covid-19.

Software is a major driver of business transformation, and Sage, which serves a significant slice of Poland's SMEs, is facilitating the move to digital business. Piotr Ciski, managing director of Sage Polska, observes that companies that were lagging behind in digitalisation were harder hit by the effect of Covid-19 than their more IT-savvy peers. "We are heading towards a permanent change in the way work is organised, and this will become the new normal," he says.

Krzysztof Misiak, the new head of Cushman & Wakefield Poland, provides a comprehensive overview of the Polish real-estate market, highlighting the new investment opportunities, as well as the sector likely to be hardest-hit by the Covid-19 fallout over the medium- and long term.

Those were the interviews – then there's a further 22 articles. The largest group comes from the real estate and construction sector, an important driver of the Polish economy. Reading these eight pieces from diverse authors will give you an excellent overview of how the market is likely to respond to the new forces driving it in the post-Covid world.

Martin Hyams of AHR Architects speculates how our cities will look in a world connected by Skype and Zoom. Jo da Silva from Arup International Development says the post-Covid-19 economy will focus on people's needs rather than their wants. Joanna Mroczek, CBRE Poland, presents the results of the firm's Working from Home 2020 survey, which show interesting differences between countries of the CEE region. Tadeusz Jachowicz, Gleeds Polska, untangles the complex effects of Covid-19 on the construction sector – what's happening on building sites, and how things will look in the aftermath of the pandemic. Is now a good time to sell your flat? Or to buy a house? Filip Pietrek from Hamilton May looks at the Polish residential property market an assesses where the opportunities currently lie. Magdalena Czempińska, from Knight Frank takes an in-depth look at the Polish office market, from the perspective of tenants, owners and developers. What must we do to ensure a safe return to the office? Jakub Jędrys from Savills offers a step-by-step guide to a healthy workplace. Pandemic-proofing future offices will be a new challenge for the construction sector. Arkadiusz Rudzki from Skanska CEE, outlines the key features that will ensure that offices will not become infection hotspots.

The pandemic shook many businesses out of doing things the way they were used to, and adopting bold new solutions. In the case of Imperial Tobacco, it meant the sales force had to abandon their cars and take to Teams – the result – lower operational costs and higher margins. Andrzej Skowroński and Bartłomiej Jabłoński from Imperial Tobacco Polska S.A. explain how it took the firm three days to change the business model completely.

Rebuilding the economy will take some heavy-lifting; governments, banks and large businesses all have a duty of care towards the SMEs in their ecosystem to ensure that there isn't a wave of bankruptcies, says Jakub Wojnarowski, head of ACCA, Poland & Baltic Countries.

Jerzy Dąbrowski, CEO, Bibby Financial Services considers the lessons learned by SMEs during the pandemic. The survivors quickly adapted to the new reality and changed their plans realistically, emerging stronger for the experience. But what next?

Another case-study in best practice during the pandemic comes from Shell Polska; building resilience into its teams is easier in a mature corporate culture that recognises the prime importance of employee talent.

Healthcare was a sector particularly vulnerable to the side-effects of the pandemic; Anna Rulkiewicz, president of Lux Med Group, explains that for her firm, the solution was an accelerated leap forward in the direction of e-medicine; online consultations with doctors, online prescriptions, specialist-referrals and sick-notes issued remotely have become the new normal.

If there was one sector that took a particularly bad knock from the lockdown, it was the events business.With hotels and conference venues closed for the duration, the pandemic effectively shut it down amid a wave of cancellations. As venues reopen with stringent new health and safety measures in place, BPCC board member Barbara Stachowiak-Kowalska reflects on the future of the business meeting.

The food supply chain needed rapid re-alignment from catering to home cooking – how the challenge arose and how it was met is explained in this article from Aon Polska.

Now in its 12th year, the Polish National Sales Awards will be having its annual gala online this year. The Awards have become an institution, and have helped to professionalise sales as a business function. Elżbieta Pełka, who founded PNSA in 2008 looks at how it has changed stereotypes and contributed to Poland's economy.

The lockdown and accompanying pause in business activity has been a good time to reassess one's IT and business processes. It was a good time for investing in new systems. Enterprise software is all well and good – but does it function properly when everyone's working from home? The key is software that's oriented around the needs and tasks of the employee – not the manager. A good example is BPower2. Meanwhile, Paweł Prymakowski, CEO of IT Vision, presents a check-list of what to look for when choosing an ERP system, so as not to end up making expensive mistakes.

Human resources are not neglected in this issue of Contact Magazine Online. Anna Gwiazda, from Kochański & Partners says that Polish labour market as it was in January 2020 and the one that exists six months later are two different worlds, offering her prognoses for the Polish labour market beyond Covid-19.

Home office has become widespread – but what should employers be doing to optimise this form of working? Magdalena Furs from the Gi Group offers practical tips for employees and employers.

It is also a good time for training and raising skills for the challenges of the future; Lucyna Baca-Lönn, leadership and business trainer, founding owner of Graphology Solutions Group and BPCC board member considers what business leaders should focus on when considering leadership development programmes.

Finally – schools are out, but what happens in the next academic year? Tom McGrath, principal at the British Primary School of Wilanów offers four pandemic-related scenarios.

There's a lot to read, a wealth of insight and practical tips, all from expert practitioners who know the Polish market.

More in Editorial note: