Boardroom briefing: possible downsides of Zoom, new working rules and reopening after the pandemic


Are online meetings effective for negotiations, China a ‘laboratory’ for new work rules and how to reopen your business after lockdown. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

The importance of face-to-face

Online meetings may be becoming the new normal but some business interactions are still best done in person. Credit: Zoom

These are delicate times for the negotiations of several key resource projects in PNG – P’nyang, Pasca A, and Wafi-Golpu. With the negotiations mostly take place under lockdown, are online communication tools like Zoom helping or hindering?

Talking during a Lowy Institute webinar last week, former Oil Search CEO Peter Botten said that he thought that Zoom meetings were no match for a face-to-face meeting when it came to negotiating resources contracts.

Research by Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiation suggests online negotiations can indeed fall short, due to factors such as distractions, poor visuals and technical glitches, which can disrupt flow and stifle rapport.

In this ‘new normal’, where Zoom is taking the place of most real-life chats – and business events – Botten’s acknowledgement provides a reminder that perhaps not all business interactions can be replaced by a laptop, and that some things are best done in person, with a handshake. (Once handshakes are allowed again, of course!)

Work might change forever

Electronics giant Foxconn has implemented several measures to ensure all staff is safe in the post-COVID-19 world. Credit:Foxconn/Instagram

Workplaces are looking for guidance on how to operate in the post-COVID-19 world, and China may be the world’s ‘first laboratory’ for testing new work practices, argues an article in Australia’s Sydney Morning Herald.

For manufacturers, this might take the shape of workers checking their temperatures three times a day and submitting them via an app (as they do in China’s BMW plant) or washing hands before and after handling documents (as they do at electronics giant Foxconn).

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Some of these new regimes are simple ones that revolve around good, or improved, hygiene practices but there are also a patchwork of local rules to include as well as some fairly heavy duty government tracking, and a much higher level of intrusion from bosses to make sure employees are towing the line.

All in all, a much more regimented working world than the one we left behind.

Reopening our business safely

Safety is the most important aspect of reopening says a report in Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific, as some nations take the tentative steps of getting back to work after COVID-19.

The article has a handy checklist of ideas to keep your work COVID-free including minimising social interactions, limiting numbers in enclosed spaces and displaying personal hygiene guidelines.

But it also looks at the individual responsibilities of businesses that choose to reopen, and addresses the need for an individually-tailored response to a return to work that best suits your workplace – and the communication channels needed with government authorities if a case of COVID-19 is found.


  1. Stan Joyce says

    Organisations that already had a institutional safety culture will move swiftly to adapt. It’s simply a matter of some new rules and this time the average citizen is quite supporttive. The introduction of new technologies provides further imbalance to some negotiations which will lead to more frustration

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