C-Levels Shift Their Focus to What Happens Next

Community Blog
Written by Clare Ryan

JULY 7, 2020

For years as a Conference Content producer working for other companies, I followed Evanta in awe of the communities they built and the executives they served. I knew it had to be something special to attract that level of talent at that scale. What I now know is that the value Evanta brings comes directly from the fundamental mission of “by and for.” This is our core mission that ensures the executives are creating the content we are delivering back. It’s a constant conversation, a back and forth, and a true partnership. In the absence of in-person gatherings, we’ve pivoted to offering these engagements virtually. 

Over 8,000 C-level executives have come together in virtual events and discussions over the past three months. More than 2,000 have joined private, peer-led LinkedIn Groups. And thousands more have responded to our monthly pulse survey, as we try to understand what they are facing, what they want to know from their peers, and how they are leading through the disruption.

In the June pulse survey (our third survey in a series), we see some small signs of optimism. We ask every month about the impact of the pandemic on their business operations. This month across all C-level roles, the highest percentage of executives are saying that business operations continue at a reduced level or that there is little disruption to business operations.

But we also see an uptick on the far ends of the spectrum with more executives reporting either that business has increased or that business cannot continue. It seems that uncertainty has shaken out over the past few months, and leaders have determined whether or not they can move forward.

We have heard from executives in our town halls -- and see in the survey responses -- that their focus has shifted from the immediate pandemic response needs and supporting a remote workforce to what happens next.

As they develop return-to-work strategies and policies, many will continue to offer working from home as an option. 35% say they will offer work-from-home accommodations to some or all of their employees -- and even more will create a tailored approach to returning to the workplace.

There have been many discussions about remote work and the “new normal” in our town halls, as well.  Some executives said that their C-suite peers have been surprised that employees were as productive at home as they were in the office. And CHROs, in particular, who often advocate for more flexibility for employees have been pleased to have evidence from the past few months that remote work can be successful and productive. That effectiveness has challenged some norms and traditional ways of thinking for some businesses.

Despite all of the enormous challenges of the past few months, including supporting a fully remote workforce, C-level executives mostly feel that they have grown as leaders from the experience. In fact, 68% feel that they have either “grown” or “thrived” as a leader in our June survey.

We have heard tremendous feedback from executives on the ability to get together and share experiences with their peers. They are interested in hearing how others are combatting current business challenges and appreciate the chance to collaborate on -- or affirm -- their strategies and next steps. 

Conducting business virtually has become the new norm across all businesses and industries, and there may be a new norm for networking and connecting virtually, as well. The C-level executives who join our communities genuinely want to talk to their peers even during normal times -- and even more so with the unprecedented twin events of the pandemic and the resulting impact on the economy.

The executives in our communities are looking forward to getting together in person again. But the outreach, conversations, and the willingness to share and help peers over the past few months has really spoken to the power of a professional community. Recent events have shown us that we all need peer interaction -- regardless of how it takes place.

Clare Ryan headshot

Clare Ryan

VP, Content & Product Strategy at Evanta, a Gartner Company

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