The continuing crisis
COVID-19 has rapidly become a global crisis, and in the forest products industry, it is disrupting the entire value chain. In response, forest products companies have quickly taken steps to protect their people by implementing work-at-home programs and restricting access to offices, mills, plants and timber plantations.
The impact of the pandemic varies across industry sectors. In some, mills have been shut down. While in others, production has been increased to meet COVID-19-driven demand for tissue and other paper products. But across the board, forest products companies are experiencing unpredicted events. And the crisis appears to be far from over.
In this environment, companies need to continue to take actions to protect employees and limit disruption. At the same time, they need to keep an eye on the future and develop ways of working that will allow them to manage through future disruptions and thrive in the long run.
Managing the response
Many forest products companies have already risen to the challenges presented by COVID-19. But the impact of the pandemic is both widespread and profound. Companies need to take continued, comprehensive action. Sound governance is essential, with the ongoing involvement of senior leadership and cross-function representatives. Other near-term priorities include:
Acting today, building for tomorrow
As they work to limit business disruption and revenue loss, forest products companies can also consider ways to position themselves for the future. To do so, they should focus on “North Stars” within five foundational areas.
Looking even further ahead, forest products companies can use the imperatives created by the COVID-19 crisis to brainstorm how they can be more resilient as the world continues to change. For example, how might they adapt their circular economy strategies with health in mind? How can autonomous operations help build flexibility? And how can companies adjust their product strategy to adapt to change and disruption?
Ultimately, forest products companies will need to act fast today, and at the same time, think carefully about the future—and find ways to build on the lessons learned from the COVID-19 crisis.