The exponential spread of the new novel coronavirus — what some might consider a “black swan” event — has sent tremendous shock waves to every foundational socioeconomic system serving humanity as we know it.

Unlike many other disruptions we have weathered through in the past, this is an existential threat to the way we work, live, and play. Every well-crafted business strategy playbook has been temporarily paused as leaders respond to the urgency of the moment, which is to take care of the health and well-being of their people.

As the world pivots quickly to the new normal, a completely different culture of work is evolving. Social distancing is the new anti-viral, requiring each one of us to do our part in preventing further spread. And with social distancing, remote work is the new norm.

As people come to terms with this new reality in their work and life environments, we are likely to drive an accelerated adoption of entirely new behaviours and technologies, many of which will be here to stay post-crisis.

Not too long ago, in 2018, The Bureau of Labour Statistics estimated only 29 percent of American wage and salary workers could work at home, while the Organisation for Economic Co-operation & Development (OECD) estimated six out of 10 people in the EU had not worked from home. Enterprises that may have emphasised employee co-location as a driver of success in the past are now left to quickly figure out how to manage business continuity, employee engagement and health, and customer success. Despite basic productivity tools such as Slack and Teams or video collaboration tools such as Zoom, enterprises worldwide are still struggling in how to navigate the “new normal.”

At SAP, our purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Now more than ever before, we know we need to find solutions together, as part of a global purpose network, an ecosystem of customers, partners, influencers, non-profits, government institutions, and agencies.

The worst of times calls for the best in all of us. In that spirit, we are incredibly privileged to collaborate with an ecosystem of business-to-business (B2B) startup partners through the SAP.iO program. By virtue of being digitally native, managing a distributed workforce has always been their de-facto way of conducting business.

Here, we share some of their best practices, solutions, and thought leadership — ranging from daily execution to employee engagement to customer management and success. This list is by no means exhaustive and will continue to grow over the coming weeks as more startups demonstrate their distinctive solutions that can help businesses survive the downturn, but also set them up to thrive during the upturn.

Andjaro provides visibility to internal employee capacity, supporting short-term secondments for companies with multiple locations within a geographical boundary — for example, Paris. Customers like hotel chains and convenience store chains have been actively using Andjaro to re-allocate employees, such as store clerks, so customers’ needs can be met even in cities undergoing lock downs.

The Bravely platform connects employees to on-demand professional coaching in the key moments that define the employee experience. Bravely has leveraged its experience to advise managers how to empower employees in the current environment.

Clearmetal enables shippers more accurate delivery forecasts and exception management, at a SKU level, in multi-modal container-based transport. Brands trust the platform to drive efficiency and help eliminate waste in global logistics and international freight transportation. Clearmetal has been active in publishing thought leadership to help companies enable a continuous delivery experience through the crisis.

Cultivate facilitates growth in-management capability and organisational health through passive data acquisition and analysis of employee feedback. Cultivate recently published research on important manager behaviours for leading with empathy in a digital-first environment. In addition, the company is allowing new customers to pilot Cultivate for free for the rest of 2020 with no user limits, and is also bearing the associated costs of installation, setup, and training to accelerate customer on boarding.

Disco enables employees to recognise and commend each other where “work lives” in manners aligned to company values, subsequently analysing and building increased employee engagement.

Gnowbe provides a mobile micro learning platform that facilitates creation and delivery of the right amount of content at the right time in order to maximise learning and retention. Gnowbe is currently helping enterprises create a seamless digital learning journey as employees continue to build skills and learn, including free, immediately relevant multi-language courses in healthcare and business continuity planning.

Goodr is a startup tackling hunger by connecting sources of surplus food with those in need, such as food banks. To help communities in need at this time, Goodr has introduced COVID-19 Emergency Support, including an emergency one-time pick-up request option for businesses looking to donate surplus food to a local non-profit, as well as opportunities to sponsor deliveries to those who are less fortunate.

The MeQuilibrium well-being and performance platform leverages behavioural psychology, neuroscience, and artificial intelligence (AI) to support and improve employee health and wellness. The company’s COVID-19 Response Kit provides curated resources for individuals, managers, teams, and senior leaders.

Plum offers a psychometric-based talent acquisition and management platform approach to providing organizations with the data they need to acquire and manage talent. Plum enables organizations to prepare for the future of work by helping ensure the right talent are in the right roles, in a bias-free manner.

WeGift is a leading platform for real-time on-demand digital incentives, payouts, and rewards due to eGift cards. In the current environment, companies such as retailers and brands are using WeGift to reward their customers and consumers and to keep and maintain their loyalties and relationships.

Wethos curates virtual teams of contingent creative and marketing experts on the fly to deliver quality marketing content on time and at scale, in a cost-effective manner. From day 1one Wethos has operated in a virtual manner — the company has no offices — and is sharing its best practices on remote work, including general infrastructures and operating frameworks for remote teamsoptimisation of virtual meetings and agendastips for working across time zones, and even offices hours and free consulting on how to set virtual teams up for success.

During a crisis, communication is king. Companies that choose to embrace innovative ways of working, communicating, and engaging their employees, customers, and partners can quickly create distinctive advantages that will sustain for years to come.

We’ll profile many of the SAP.iO startups on SAP Purpose Network Live, a virtual event platform that brings together our global purpose network to unlock the power of co-innovation at scale. The events will feature sharing of thought leadership, bold new approaches, and inspiring stories on how both startups and the rest of the SAP ecosystem are activating products, programs, partnerships, and global communities to support relief efforts for COVID-19 and accelerate solutions to urgent world challenges.

This article first appeared on the SAP Global News Centre.