What is the impact of coronavirus on business schools? We bring you the latest live updates including campus closures, changes to MBA admission requirements, and more
Why We’ll Be Working From Home Long After Coronavirus
In early March coronavirus meant working from home became the new normal for many of us. By the start of April nearly 35% of workers in the US had swapped the office for their homes. But the new normal isn’t temporary. Long after coronavirus, working from home will remain a big part of our lives.
During the transition to remote working in March 2020, about 25% of executives and small-business owners purchased new digital tools to help employees working from home. A large majority expect that tool usage to be permanent after COVID-19.
These will be the companies whose workers remain working from home in some function post-pandemic, as we move towards a more integrated system of in-person and virtual hybrid work.
Companies that have invested in their digital workforce during the pandemic will see reverting to the old normal as a step backwards.
It won’t be ubiquitous. Workplace expert and futurist, Alexandra Levit, who also received a Radar award in 2019 from Thinkers50—who identify the leading management ideas of our age—says the reaction to COVID-19 and working from home has split businesses into two camps.
There are the companies who will keep in place remote work and those are the ones who were already somewhat distributed to begin with, and then there are the companies who have an entrenched office culture and haven’t yet changed their minds.
The new reality of working from home is one we'd have faced in the next decade or so anyway, says Alexandra (pictured right). The pandemic has simply accelerated the process and the businesses who haven't yet changed their mind around remote work will have to come around to a new way of thinking about and structuring their workforce.
A long-term shift to hybrid working
It isn’t feasible to say everyone who has an internet connection, Zoom, or a Microsoft Teams account is good to go with remote work. Jonathan Dingel—associate professor of economics at Chicago Booth School of Business and a faculty research fellow at the National Bureau of Economic Research—explains that the transition raises big questions for organizations about how they structure their workforce, and how they cause personnel to work with one another.
“That’s not going to be the default for firms that were organized with the assumption of co-located people working face to face,” he says.
Michael Segalla, professor of management at HEC Paris who also has a PhD in organizational studies and labor relations, adds that workers don’t want to live fully atomized lives disconnected from human contact.
In the immediate future splitting work between office and home will be unavoidable as companies restructure their workplaces for coronavirus. A rota system will be temporarily required as different teams alternate between office and home to adhere to social distancing requirements.
But beyond that, hybrid work will remain.
The shift to remote work could be particularly resounding in the US. A National Bureau of Economic Research paper found that more than 35% of firms think that 40% or more of the current switch to remote working will be permanent.
Twitter has told its employees they can continue to work from home permanently. Other big tech firms like Google and Facebook have said they will operate at around 30% of office capacity, with most workers allowed to work from home through 2020.
Before the pandemic, Jonathan (pictured right), together with Brent Neiman—the Edward Eagle Brown professor of economics at Chicago Booth—predicted that around 37% of US jobs could be plausibly done at home. The pandemic has accelerated the transition.
“This has taken maybe five or ten years of change and crunched it down into just a couple of short months,” explains Jonathan (pictured right), who teaches a course on managing the firm in a global economy at Booth. “The pandemic has potentially changed the future of work in the sense that lot of these changes might not have happened absence [it].
“I think it will force people to adopt new technologies and potentially change their beliefs and lead businesses to reconsider their office and personnel arrangements in a variety of different ways.”
A shift in mentality
Over half of managers think working remotely during the pandemic has gone better than expected. The caveat to that is that the answer depends how well or badly those managers thought it was going to work in the first place. If best case scenario was utter chaos, then a marginal drop in productivity will likely be a positive.
Even if companies have seen a slight performance drop, the shift to working from home has benefitted some employees. Michael (pictured right) points to a poll in France that found 71% of people who had never previously worked at home before the pandemic now wished to do so at least once per week. 79% said they would do so even if it meant giving up their office.
“Because French workers have the legal right to ask their employers to work from home, the results of this survey are exceptionally relevant,” he explains.
Being forced into working from home was an experiment that at the start of the pandemic most of us would probably have been skeptical about. But for those who’ve been able to, it has worked.
Because of this it’s likely that post-pandemic the taboo around requesting to work more frequently from home will have been replaced by confidence that work can be done productively from where employees feel most comfortable. It’s also been a lesson in utilizing the digital technology available for home working.
The office will still be a part of our working lives, we’ll just spend less time physically in it. And it will take work for companies to establish a digital culture that fits the culture in the office, so workers who spend more of their time at home don’t become isolated, and still fit in.
The future of work was always heading in this direction. COVID-19 has simply accelerated the process, condensing into four short months what would have taken over a decade. That’s a good thing, and it had forced us to grapple with a challenge we were always going to face as hybrid work becomes the new normal.
BB Insights examines the latest news and trends from the business world, drawing on the expertise of leading faculty members at the world's best business schools.
This Georgetown MBA Is Helping Businesses Overcome Their COVID-19 Challenges
When Robert Knox first heard about the MBAs Fighting COVID-19 initiative, he knew he wanted to sign up and help.
The organization, which started at Harvard Business School in March, supports businesses hit hard by coronavirus, by matching them with MBA students who can use their skills to help.
Working on the initiative has been a valuable—albeit unexpected—addition to the MBA program Robert is taking at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.
With a background in investment management, he set out on the MBA to gain a wider knowledge of business, and build a strong network. Working with MBAs Fight COVID-19 is helping him to do both, all while supporting struggling businesses.
Joining a community-focused program
As he researched MBA programs, Robert was drawn to Georgetown's strong, diverse network. The full-time program attracts a class of 30% international students, 70% of whom have a non-business educational background.
“From the first time I visited, I was just really impressed with the people I met and talked to,” he says.
This community spirit came into play when, half-way through his MBA, coronavirus struck.
For Georgetown to join the MBAs Fight COVID-19 platform, Robert needed to find 15 interested students, and five potential projects. This turned out to be an easy threshold to meet, thanks to overwhelming student enthusiasm.
“I would say that’s been a consistent theme during my time at Georgetown—the strength of the network, and people’s willingness to step up and do something to help their community,” Robert reflects.
The benefits of helping business
Joining the MBAs Fight COVID-19 initiative would not only help the businesses assisted, but also the students taking part, Robert (right) realized.
“On the one hand, it’s supporting businesses that need help, and on the other it’s linking MBAs to projects where they can practice their skills,” he explains.
Many MBA internships have been cancelled due to coronavirus, leaving scores of students with no plans for the summer. MBAs Fight COVID-19 presented a great opportunity for these students to hone their skills while helping a struggling business.
The projects students work on vary significantly in subject and scope. Many involve helping businesses to set up ecommerce functionality, or sell their products through Amazon, Robert notes.
Another key project has been helping small businesses access emergency federal funding.
Students work with these companies to help them apply for funds like the US Paycheck Protection Program—a national fund that helps small businesses continue to pay their staff through the pandemic.
Robert himself has worked closely with around 50 small businesses in the hospitality and beauty sectors, helping them access this funding.
Working with a global network
So far, about 67 Georgetown MBAs have volunteered for the initiative, bringing the total number of students on the platform to 1,000, spread across the world.
Working with students from other MBA programs has been a hugely positive experience for Robert.
“It’s been a really pleasant surprise getting to learn about their backgrounds and collaborate,” he explains. “We never would have interacted otherwise!”
Working with such diverse students and businesses did create some challenges, however. One of the most significant was working out how to match MBA students with the most appropriate projects.
Most matches have had to be made manually, Robert explains, to ensure both the student and the business were happy with the decision. So far, however, Robert and his peers at other schools have managed to handle the process with some creative thinking, and the flexibility of participating students.
Thriving in a virtual environment
Working remotely has been another important hurdle for students working on the project to overcome.
At times, getting in touch with people has been difficult, Robert notes, and many participants have experienced the fatigue that often accompanies long video calls.
The communication skills Robert has honed through his MBA are helping him overcome this issue, however. Taking a virtual summer internship with a New York based investment bank is proving to be a particularly helpful training ground, he says.
“What’s become more important than ever is to be engaged and proactive—you need to reach out to people, and make sure you actually speak. It takes a little practice!”
The transition to virtual teaching has been helpful. One class in particular—a valuation course taught by professor Lee Pinkowitz—has transitioned to virtual teaching with impressive success.
“We’ve had so many different Zoom sessions to meet and chat with him,” explains Robert. “And he went out of his way to record lectures so we could study at our own pace.”
Pulling together for a cause
There are currently more than 250 projects on the MBAs Fight COVID-19 site, and several hundred students are working on them.
Robert’s own MBA cohort is now scattered around the globe, and he has been inspired by his peers’ commitment to initiative.
“It’s really rewarding work,” he reflects. “And I’ve been so impressed with the engagement levels of students.
“That’s been a consistent theme at Georgetown—the strength of the network, and people’s willingness to step up and do something to help their community.”
9 Coursera Courses To Boost Your MBA Application
Looking to apply for business school? What better way to strengthen your MBA application than with a MOOC.
Massive Open Online Courses, or MOOCs, can be an opportunity for students to get a taste of business education from leading b-schools, while adding significant skills and certificates to their MBA resume.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the popularity of online courses has skyrocketed. Coursera remains one of the most popular MOOC sites, gaining 10 million new users in a month over lockdown. The site has made over 100 of its courses free to access, while enrolment is often free for most courses anyway (with payment for the certificate).
With courses offered by top schools including Wharton, INSEAD, and London Business School, Coursera offers access to world class education at the click of a button.
Whether you're looking to upskill, hone a new interest, or explore what a business degree might hold for you, we’ve listed nine online courses on Coursera which can help strengthen your MBA application:
9 Online Courses To Boost Your MBA Application
1. Bitcoin and Cryptocurrency Technologies, Princeton University
©thamerpic | Getty Images
Bitcoin experienced a huge bubble in late 2017, reaching a peak of over $19k, in its wake launching a huge market for unregulated cryptocurrencies. For MBAs, this is a hot topic in innovation and finance.
Understanding cryptocurrency’s potential is central to this online course offered by Princeton, preparing students for an increasingly digitalized economy. The specialization is split into four sections, taking users through the decentralization and mechanics of Bitcoin, as well as how to store and use the currency.
The course is free, although there is no certificate upon completion.
2. Women in Leadership: Inspiring Positive Change, Case Western Reserve University
©fizkes | Shutterstock
One common obstacle that women come up against in business education is that tools and resources are not geared towards women.
The women in leadership online course from Case Western Reserve University is specifically designed to empower women in business and offer them specific training in a male-dominated world. The course, moreover, is also aimed to help men to support women in the workplace.
Each segment addresses different challenges in a gendered workplace, and offers practical training to help overcome this.
3. Mastering Data Analysis on Excel, Duke University
©PrathanChorruangsak | Getty Images
Far from the days of overladen filing cabinets, businesses operate on big data and statistics, as a tool for spotting trends, predicting behavior, and making decisions. Knowing your way around a spreadsheet can be the making of a 21st century business leader.
Behind the ‘Mastering Data Analysis’ course is the dual belief; first, that decisions can be made competently and efficiently through data; secondly, that data does not eliminate all uncertainty and risk. Over 280,000 enrollees can attest to the power of this course, making it one of Coursera’s most popular courses.
The Master of Data Analytics is fast becoming one of the biggest alternatives to an MBA—this online course could stand you in good stead for either.
4. Marketing in a Digital World, University of Illinois
Marketing professionals will tell you the same thing—the fundamentals of marketing have stayed the same, but the tools which you use have radically altered.
Digital and online is everything for marketing, and getting to grips with the tools available is the foundation of this online course. Many MBAs offer a specialization in marketing, for which this course is a natural stepping stone. Over four weeks, the course looks at sales, distribution, and pricing, all through a digital lens.
Students get access to the other seven courses in this digital marketing specialization from the University of Illinois.
5. Digital Transformation, Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
‘Disruption is not new’, reads the description for this online from consulting giant BCG. Businesses, and MBAs, are forced to understand the technologies which are changing the way we operate in the 21st century.
As well as understanding the economics of innovation and disruption, this online course gives students a unique peek at the digital transformation framework through which BCG operates with its clients.
For those coveting a post-MBA career in innovation, in consulting, or even at BCG, this course provides an insight to all three.
6. Managing the Company of the Future, London Business School
©Jacob Lund | Getty Images
Understanding the difference between management and leadership is the foundation for this online course by the London Business School.
MBA, Master of Finance, Master in Management—whatever program you chose to study, the fundaments of management will be running through it. The online course will take you through every level of running a business, from decision-making to motivation, applying all of these through the business model of the student.
7. Entrepreneurship: Launching an Innovative Business, University of Maryland
©Sladic | Getty Images
For those studying an MBA to help them set up their own business, look no further than this online course in entrepreneurship to get the ball rolling.
The specialization is split into four courses, which take between eight and 18 hours each, taking enrollees through the lifecycle of starting a business, beginning with developing ideas, and walking through bringing the business to the marketplace, and sourcing funding.
8. Corporate Sustainability: Understanding and Seizing the Strategic Opportunity, Universita Bocconi
©mimadeo | Getty Images
Hitting the triple bottom line—achieving environmental, social, and financial success—is one of the biggest pressures on businesses of the future.
As this trend becomes much more of a need, many business schools are incorporating sustainability into their curricula—making this online course a particularly appealing one.
At the heart of this online course, from Italian b-school Universita Bocconi, is centering business around all stakeholders equally, moving away from traditional profit-motivated business.
9. Business Analytics, The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
The Business Analytics specialization is one of Coursera’s most popular courses—hardly surprising, given it exposes students to teaching from one of America’s top b-schools, Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Analytics has flooded into all areas of business, including marketing, human resources, finance, and operations, helping business professionals to make their decisions with greater ease and efficiency.
In particular, the course focuses on the human side of data, in particular how it can be used for recruiting, performance evaluation, and customer behavior.
Read More: Are Coursera Courses Worth It?
This article was originally published in May 2019 and updated in July 2020.
How UK Business School Students Got Jobs In Lockdown
Graduating b-school students in the UK are headed into a more volatile job market, even as the coronavirus lockdown begins to ease. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Bath School of Management postgraduate students are being supported by the school's Postgraduate Careers and External Engagement Team with some positive results.
From workshops on CV writing, application forms, and covering letters, to running mock assessment centers and practice interviews, b-school students are given every opportunity to prepare for the future in a safe space where mistakes can be learned from.
The Postgraduate Careers team compile reputable company lists and job opportunities students can look through on a dedicated internal portal––it’s organized by industries, subsectors, and specific roles, coupled with one-to-one support advising how to frame your application for a specific role. Then there are regular career fairs, career panel talks, and employer presentations, too.
And it’s working. BusinessBecause caught up with two graduating students—Dan He and Alice Ingabire—who have secured new jobs this summer.
Dan He | Accounting at EY
Dan (pictured) believes the MSc in Management with Marketing at Bath School of Management gave her both the perspective and qualifications she needed to launch her career in accounting, as well as the international exposure she’d always wanted.
“Moving to another country is exciting––I previously only really knew things about the UK from books and movies,” she says. “I was excited to experience English culture.”
The broad array of modules offered on the program, such as marketing, economics, and accounting, sparked Dan’s interest in accounting––an area of business she hadn’t considered before. She appreciated the logic and mathematical skill required and met with the Postgraduate Careers and External Engagement team to assess her options.
“The Careers Team really helped me,” Dan says. “They outlined what the UK job market is like, and I got a lot of advice from them on applying for accountancy roles as an international student.”
During lockdown, assessments and interviews moved online, and the Careers Team again helped her navigate the new online process, she adds.
On a more personal level, they encouraged Dan to persist with job applications when her lack of confidence speaking English might have held her back.
“One professor on the MSc program told me it’s not about how you speak, but about what you’re saying, which I found inspiring.”
With their support and help framing her application and practicing interview techniques, Dan was offered an audit role with Big Four accounting firm, Ernst & Young (EY), which she’ll be starting in September.
Alice Ingabire | World Benchmarking Alliance
BusinessBecause spoke to Alice in late 2019, when she was not far into Bath's one-year MBA program. Alice has always had a very clear career path in mind. From the off, Alice knew she wanted to continue using her education to help drive business innovation in poorer countries.
“My main interest has always been in sustainable business practice,” she says. “I wanted to learn more about how a business can be and connect this with my previous work experience in social enterprise.”
Alice already has a lot of the background knowledge and experience needed for sustainability-focused roles, but she admits she didn’t have a lot of experience in self-promotion. This is where the Careers Team stepped in. They ran two workshops which Alice says she found beneficial when thinking about her approach to job hunting.
“Personal Branding by Luigi Centenaro from BigName trains MBA students to identify opportunities for innovation and communicate effectively,” Alice says. “There was also a LinkedIn workshop run by LinkedIn employee Mark Stonham, which taught me how to best use LinkedIn in support of my personal goals and looking for job roles.”
Through navigating LinkedIn, Alice actually found the job description for the role she now holds. Working closely with the Careers Team on her CV and application, Alice went through a month and a half of online interviews and assessments before securing her perfect job role.
“When I was job hunting, I was constantly told: You don’t have to do these things on your own, we’re here for you. It was really reassuring having their support,” she says.
Now Alice is finishing up her time at b-school, and will begin taking on responsibilities in her new role as spotlight benchmark lead for the World Benchmarking Alliance later in June. The global corporation focuses on generating a more active investment in a sustainable future for all, with the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals (announced in 2015) informing their efforts.
Alice will be playing a leading role in the further development of the corporation's Access to Seeds Index, a project which is part of its food and agricultural transformation movement.
“I am so grateful to the Careers Team for all their support in putting these workshops together, as well as mentoring my professional development and career growth,” Alice concludes.