An animated picture of Gary Hartnett of Johnson & Johnson.
Gary Hartnett. Image: Luke Maxwell/

Watch: Johnson & Johnson’s crisis management during Covid-19

7 Sep 2020

For a company such as Johnson & Johnson, not everyone can work from home during a pandemic. In its Irish business, this meant a ‘very agile operational model’ had to be introduced.

Covid-19 has been one of the biggest tests of leadership and crisis-management skills in our lifetime. Businesses have had to pivot online or radically change how employees work in order to adhere to public health guidelines and keep their teams safe.

For healthcare and pharmaceutical companies, working from home isn’t always an option and many people in Ireland and around the world have been required to continue working on site in recent months.

Gary Hartnett is general manager of Janssen Ireland, which is one of Johnson & Johnson’s pharmaceutical companies. Central to his team’s approach to crisis management during this period, he told, has been “strong and effective communication”.

The company’s leadership has been tasked with keeping more than 3,750 employees in Ireland up to date in “a meaningful, authentic, relatable way”, while Hartnett and his colleagues have prioritised “a very agile operational model”.

“The folks that we could send home to work from home, we did with immediate effect,” he said. “But for others, we made sure that our workplace was super safe. We introduced handwashing, various different signage, social distancing and re-laid out a lot of our facilities.”

Addressing additional burdens

Hartnett said the company recognised that the pandemic has “created an extra burden” for many people, and the company has introducing more initiatives such as flexible working hours. “Our job has been to see what we can do to … mitigate that burden as much as we can.”

This also includes taking a “conservative” approach to preparing for the possibility of a second wave of Covid-19.

“We’re keeping the measures we’ve implemented in the workplace in place maybe longer than will be expected, but we will be very conservative by our nature because our core responsibility is to protect our employees and keep our business moving so we can keep our patients supplied with the key products and medicines that they need.”

Lisa Ardill
By Lisa Ardill

Lisa Ardill joined Silicon Republic as senior careers reporter in July 2019. She has a BA in neuroscience and a master’s degree in science communication. She is also a semi-published poet and a big fan of doggos. Lisa briefly served as Careers Editor at Silicon Republic before leaving the company in June 2021.

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