How did organisations respond to COVID-19?

In May 2020, Qualsys and the CQI distributed a survey to understand how well quality professionals felt their business adapted to the Covid-19 pandemic. 
In this three-part series, we are sharing some of the findings. 

Part one, below, covers: 

  1. What changes organisations made
  2. Which industries were most impacted
  3. Which organisations were the most prepared


Download the report here:

COVID 19 quality profession report



1. What changes did organisations make in response to the Covid-19 outbreak?

Changes taken during COVID

Larger companies were more likely to have created a dedicated Covid-19
team, while smaller businesses adapted their strategies
  • Company policies and procedures were generally unprepared for major disruption.
  • Half of all businesses updated their employee policies and 40 per cent of all
    businesses changed their strategy during the first couple of months of the
  • Approximately one in five businesses updated either their supplier
    or customer policies.
  • Larger organisations were also more likely to have created
    a dedicated Covid-19 team to plan, co-ordinate and communicate the
    response strategy.
  • Although smaller businesses were less likely to have a dedicated Covid-19 team, they
    were the most likely to have adapted their business strategy.

However, the single greatest change to the business world has been employees
working remotely. 


Governance risk and compliance training sheffield Kate

Kate Armitage, Director of Compliance at Qualsys said:

What the data spells out is clear: it’s been an essential time for a culture of quality. No matter the size of your business, embedded risk-based thinking, robust change management processes and documentation control should’ve played a key role in adjusting quickly to the outbreak.

Our role as quality professionals is to bake resilience into the business culture so that when there are factors outside our control, such as COVID-19, we have competent employees and airtight policies and procedures ready to adapt.



2. Which industries were the most impacted by Covid-19, and what were the impacts?
Healthcare and life sciences are having more compliance and
quality issues, but they are also innovating, collaborating and focusing on
employee wellbeing.
  • Approximately half of the respondents said that their organisation has placed a
    greater emphasis on employee wellbeing.
  • A third of quality professionals noticed improved collaboration.
  • A quarter said innovation had been a direct result of the Covid-19 outbreak.
    However, there were different positive and negative effects of Covid-19 felt
    depending on the sector.
  • COVID Effects felt from the outbreak
  • Despite many of these organisations being on the frontline, the healthcare and life
    science sector reported the most positive effects. Two-thirds of respondents from
    the healthcare and life science sector said their company was now placing a greater
    emphasis on employee wellbeing. This sector also reported the highest levels of
    innovation and collaboration and were the least impacted by low morale. However,
    they were the most likely to report quality and compliance issues, suggesting the
    organisation struggled to keep up with the volume of change.
  • Services and consultants have taken the hardest hit in terms of overall demand.
    Sixty-one percent reported lowered demand. However, this sector also reported
    the highest levels of productivity. Perhaps lowered demand provided more time to
    focus on key areas and propositions.
  • The manufacturing sector was the most likely to be operating with a reduced workforce with three-quarters saying there were fewer people covering shifts, possibly because there was a reduction in overall demand.
  • Retail, wholesale, and logistics reported the least quality and compliance issues,
    which was surprising given that two-thirds were operating with a reduced
  • Chemicals, consumer goods and utilities reported the lowest morale, but also
    reported high levels of innovation, collaboration and a focus on wellbeing.

Kate said:

With such a high volume of the workforce working remotely, on reduced
hours or furloughed, it’s surprising that less than a quarter of businesses have experienced quality and compliance issues. That is a great success story for quality teams. It shows that our processes, policies and documentation are generally fit for purpose and resilient.



3. Which organisations were the most prepared for Covid-19? 
Businesses certified to ISO 22301 – Business Continuity Management were best prepared to respond to Covid-19. ISO 22301 certification improved leadership response, communications and resulted in a better risk-based approach.

Overall, quality professionals felt their business response to the Covid-19
outbreak was effective.

However, organisations certified to ISO 22301 Business Continuity Management were generally better placed to respond to the crisis.

Their communication to customers and employees were better managed, leadership
teams were more proactive, and they were able to apply a risk-based approach to
manage changes. Businesses with no continuity plan at all were consistently the least
effective at responding to the crisis.

Covid 19 business response 22301

Armitage commented:

The results prove that working to an established framework for managing business continuity, such as ISO 22301, has tangible benefits. Going
through a formal ISO certification process demonstrates not just the ability of the management system to meet those requirements set by subject matter experts, but also the commitment of the organisation to protecting its governance and operations. Having a system which meets the requirements of an expert, as an internationally recognised standard does, and getting the certificate on the wall provides evidence and builds confidence and commitment. In this case, ISO 22301 has fulfilled its goal of making
businesses more adaptive and resilient in times of disruption.



What you should do now: 

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Topics: Quality Culture, COVID-19

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