Delivered on behalf of Scottish Enterprise by Workplace Innovation Europe.

Rethinking Jobs and Leadership for the Post-COVID World

Webinar Report: 25th August 2020

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About the event

The COVID-19 crisis offers companies a unique opportunity to renew their relationships with customers, suppliers and employees alike – and to stimulate innovative thinking about their products, services and processes that will place them ahead of the field in the post-lockdown world.

More than ever, business leaders need to understand how to engage their people in change if they are to survive and thrive in the post-lockdown world. Economic forecasters predict deep recession and many companies understand the urgent need to enhance agility, productivity and capacity for innovation. That means rethinking job roles and working practices throughout the organisation.

How can you bring your people with you? Successful change means harnessing workforce creativity and ideas to find new and effective solutions. It also means winning acceptance for difficult decisions.

Led by Dr Peter Totterdill, Rosemary Exton and Natalie Wilkie, the session focused on:
  • engaging employee voice in times of change;
  • employee-driven innovation;
  • skills development and utilisation for functional flexibility;
  • enhanced use of digital technologies;
  • self-management, agility and resilience.
During this highly interactive Webinar participants had the opportunity to:
  • Learn from leading international thinking and practice
  • Gain inspiration and practical insights from transformative business leaders
  • Share experiences with other companies.
Participants were also able to assess current practices in their own companies, get advice from our experts, and learn about further opportunities for support.


Participants gained valuable insights into the ways in which business leaders and their companies can position themselves for the post-COVID future, drawing on evidence-based workplace practices and the creation of pervasive and sustainable innovation cultures. The Webinar shared knowledge and experience of job redesign, skills development and utilisation, digital innovation, self-managed teams and flatter organisational structures, and how they can be achieved by harnessing employee voice, employee-driven innovation and co-created leadership.

Participants learned from, and shared experiences with Dorte Martinsen, a business leader responsible for the dramatic transformation of her company. Saved from collapse in 2009, the company’s empowered and self-managed workforce has been its strongest asset in weathering the pandemic months. According to Dorte, “this is the crisis I’ve been waiting for!”


Dorte said that this is the crisis she has been preparing for since 2009.

In 2009 she had no background in management when Dorte took over as CEO of family owned BM Silo, a Danish SME producing agricultural products. The company was in crisis, halving its workforce due to the economic climate, and its future looked uncertain. Dorte’s one stipulation was that she should run the comp any in her own way. Her vision was for BM Silo to compete through innovation led by its people.

Dorte introduced employee-led working groups to create smarter ways of working, more responsive to “what the customer would like”. Self-organised teams manage their own rosters to reflect each member’s family circumstances with the result that machine utilisation actually increased! Multi-skilling ensures that everyone is flexible across the whole production process. The result: a return to pre-2009 levels of employment, a remarkable throughput time of 3 hours from order to completion, and a profitable increase in exports from 50 – 90%.

And today, her self managed shopfloor teams have adapted production to the demands of social distancing while she focuses on renewing and strengthening relationships with customers and suppliers – leading to a growth in output despite the crisis.


Dr Peter Totterdill
Founding Director
Workplace Innovation Europe

Dr Peter Totterdill is a Founding Director of Workplace Innovation Europe CLG, a not-for-profit organisation created to help public and private sector organisations achieve enhanced performance and better working lives. A leading European expert in workplace innovation, Peter’s career has focused on building bridges between research and practice. He has led many successful innovation and change initiatives in both private and public sector organisations. Peter was previously a Research Professor at Nottingham Trent University, and has held Visiting Professorships at Kingston University London and Mykolas Romeris University Vilnius.
Rosemary Exton

Rosemary Exton
Founding Director
Workplace Innovation Europe

Rosemary Exton is a Founding Director of Workplace Innovation Europe CLG. Her experience of workplace innovation dates back to 2002, and builds on many years’ experience as a clinician, manager and trade unionist in the UK’s National Health Service where she instigated, drove and delivered many complex change and improvement initiatives. Rosemary has played key roles in several international research and development projects, whilst simultaneously delivering leadership development programmes and facilitating organisational change in diverse companies and public sector organisations across Europe.
Natalie Wilkie

Natalie Wilkie
Organisational Development Specialist
Workplace Innovation Europe

Natalie Wilkie is an organisational development specialist with Workplace Innovation Europe CLG. She focuses on building the emotional intelligence of leaders and teams in ways that make an impact at a fundamental level to the performance and engagement of people throughout the business, and is also a qualified and accredited psychotherapist. Natalie also brings particular experience of transformation, change, organisational cultures and innovation. Natalie recently worked at the Met Office, leading the Innovation Culture Team and heading up organisational development for the Transformation and Efficiency project.

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