There are now glimmers of light on the horizon as we slowly start to exit lockdown and each and every business is hard at work making plans for the brave new world that awaits us which may or may not include repeated further restrictions as our economies reset to sustainable future levels.
In the immediate future, much of global senior managements’ focus is either on how and when they will be able to re-open their businesses for trading and for all of us, it’s planning how we reopen our offices, shops and hospitality venues whilst addressing social distancing. Equally, how we cope with the likelihood of further lockdowns either locally, regionally or nationally will be challenging and foremost in all of our contingency planning.
There is also the challenge of working with our employees to aid their return to the workplace. Each individual is different as the level of vulnerability to COVID-19 is not just dependent on them as an individual, but also those they live with.
Also, whilst social separation at the offices has its challenges – managing who is going to be in each day, where they will sit and how you can sanitise every desk each evening – there is also the issue of who will be prepared to travel in.
There is, understandably, a high level of concern from those that have to use public transport (trains and the tube in particular) to get to work. For anyone that commutes this way, we know it can be densely populated and, for most people, this represents too much of a risk to even contemplate. It is equally hard to see how this will change in the foreseeable future until there is a vaccine or infection levels have declined substantially.
Working from home post-COVID-19
In this new world order, for businesses to be fully operational, working from home is going to be essential for some time to come. What employer wants to be held up to the social media spotlight by forcing vulnerable staff to risk their lives (or those of the loved ones they are living with) by demanding office attendance (with being laid off the only alternative) when working from home is a viable option with a little investment?
Technology has enabled remote communications during lockdown, with connectivity to every home office, dining room table and sofa now a standard fixture of team interaction using the now ubiquitous online video conferencing. Virtually all business functions that involve record-keeping and communication can now be carried out online and for small investments per employee.
To retain talent, every business must include the option for staff to work from home.
We often consider that not being able to monitor employees at their desks as being damaging to productivity, however, for staff that have been working from home over the past months – with no lapse in their business’ operations – the experience has changed opinions. Many staff have concluded that it is a far better lifestyle. It gives back all of the time commuting in favour of more enjoyable activities, saves a fortune in fares, is less stressful, they are less tired at the end of day and for a significant number of them, it actually increases their productivity. That is not to say that they never want to go to an office, but they do want the choice of when and why they do it. Technology gives that choice to every organisation and every employee.
Looking to the future, every business is going to have to include the option for staff to work from home if they want to recruit the best talent available because, for many, it is going to be close to the top of their agenda for their next role. If your business is unable to facilitate this, you really need to start looking at how it can be achieved.
Looking ahead – how are businesses preparing for post-COVID-19?
The new dawn does not herald clear blue skies either; the storm clouds of recession are already upon us, long before many businesses are even able to trade. We have all seen the stats with 8.4 million people in the UK having been furloughed and the rapidly growing number of unemployed. Unfortunately, this is only going to increase as government funding for furloughed staff is systematically introduced and withdrawn to support further periods of restriction over the coming months.
Most businesses are battening down the hatches in preparation for the storm ahead, and almost all CFOs are totally focused on retaining cash, whether through cutting costs, reducing spend, getting better prices on what they must buy, whilst looking for ways to increase productivity to achieve more with less.
Whilst all of this does seem like doom and gloom, it is the reality of where we find ourselves and every business must take all of the available and necessary steps to survive and then prosper.
In time, the economy will recover and those businesses that successfully navigate the storm will enjoy the growth that comes with it.
So, if you are looking for ways to help your people and business through this storm by enabling remote working, controlling spend, reducing costs and increasing productivity, the tech industry is here to help.
Online services manage book-keeping, supply chain interaction, buying of supplies for home offices, enable meetings, provide reporting on productivity, allow reporting, scheduling and planning etc all without leaving your desk (other than for regular breaks) or your home.
If you’re not sure where to start you only have to ask any provider of a technology solution and we’ll point you to the best providers of all the services you need.