It certainly isn’t business as usual at the moment. But sooner or later, we’ll return to normality. So the question is, how is this experience changing the way you approach your business? What do you think you’ll be doing differently when lockdown ends?
Here are three areas where we’re seeing big changes. What are you learning from them?
A Renewed Focus on the Mental Health and Wellbeing of Employees
Perhaps unsurprisingly, research from the Institute for Employment Studies shows that the lockdown is having an impact on workers’ mental health. Over sixty percent are sleeping less due to worry, while 33% frequently feel isolated.
Rachel Suff, well-being adviser at the CIPD, says: “It’s really important that managers are regularly checking in with their team and making use of video calls, so interactions can be as personal as possible.”
As well as these formal check ins, we are also hearing many stories of how teams are maintaining the social links that are so important in a workplace – everything from virtual tea breaks and Friday night drinks to quiz and games nights.
What actions and activities have you implemented to support your employees’ wellbeing at the moment? Do you see this as a temporary shift or could you see it becoming more permanent?
Rethinking Systems and Processes
For many businesses, it’s been a scramble to put in place the infrastructure to enable employees to work from home. Hardware, such as laptops, are one thing.
But what about processes? Many businesses have paper-based processes that work okay when everyone is based in the same office. The same simply isn’t true when everyone is working remotely. For example, we’ve heard stories of finance directors continuing to work from their office simply because that’s the only way their invoicing system can work.
If the current situation has shown the flaws in your systems, what will you do differently when you’re back?
Investing in systems that enable people to work remotely will stand your business in good stead when everyone is back in the office. For example, research shows that every member of the finance team typically saves 10 hours a week after their company implements an automated T&E management solution and nine hours a week after it implements an automated supplier invoice management solution.
The Institute of Directors also points out that working smarter like this is the definition of improving productivity. And it adds: “In a time of high costs, uncertainty, and innovative competition, developing a ‘productivity mind-set’ is crucial for businesses.”
Changing Policies and Ways of Working
The current situation is frequently being described as the world’s biggest remote working experiment. Is it confirming your worst suspicions or is it working better than you anticipated (or, at least, as well as can be expected in the circumstances)?
Research suggests there may be a shift to more home working in future, partly because it helps to cut costs. Gartner reports that 74% of CFOs and finance leaders are planning to move at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions post-Coronavirus.
Are you one of the businesses planning to make the move to home working a permanent one?
Then there’s travel. Business travel may be largely off the agenda for now. But how will you approach it when we return?
We’ve all seen the images of cities that are vastly less polluted and been amazed at the difference reducing travel makes.
On the other hand, as business journalist Michael Skapinker says: “there is an irreducible minimum of travel that business people need to do and that is unlikely to disappear.”
Will you be adapting your green policy and your travel policy to encourage more environmentally responsible forms of travel to help maintain some of the benefits we’re seeing?
What’s Certain Is That Nothing Is Certain
While we don’t know how long the effects of the current situation will last or the ongoing impacts to the economy, we do know it will likely change how business runs.