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I don’t think anybody expected 2020 to pan out the way it has. The covid-19 pandemic has brought many challenges in different ways globally, and I am pretty certain we can expect some more upheaval over the next 18 months as the economy finds its feet, families and community groups come to terms with the effect it had on them, and as people eventually ‘return to work’ and life as normal (whatever that is).
Let’s talk about one element a bit – ‘returning’ to work. I put quotation marks around it because technically, many of us are still working now. What we really mean when we talk about that is this big unknown – will people return to the office, and if they do, what will that look like? Truth is, I don’t have an answer, and I have read so many reports that its clear no one else does either! However, I firmly believe that there will be some good to come out of this crisis and that includes better ways of working.
There’re a few things that businesses and their leadership will have to consider as they develop their post-crisis strategies. Here are a few of my thoughts:
We had to change, and we had to change fast. Sending swathes of workers home, to continue their job, to keep as many businesses as possible afloat. Workers who may have once been told they couldn’t work from home because their job didn’t allow for it, are now doing just that. The nation, the world, has proved that the majority of people can keep going outside of the confines of the office. Managers will need to be more flexible to ensure the productivity of their team continues. Re-entering public life will be hard for some, as anxieties over exposure to the virus won’t just disappear once lockdown is lifted. Trust your people, give them flexibility and let them work in a way that enables them to adapt to whatever the new normal is. They haven’t let you down throughout all this, so trust they won’t when we get over it.
Having sub-par tech for your employees will no longer be acceptable. As remote working will undoubtedly rise, you’ll need to be sure they have the tech that means they can stay connected and be productive. Now that teams in different locations are used to working in an (arguably) more connected way thanks to digital tools and collaboration software, you’ll have to make sure they have the kit that works with the updates, so they can stay connected to their peers and colleagues. Anything less will be unacceptable.
There are two types of business that will emerge from this pandemic – those that cared and supported their people and those that didn’t. And, I’m pretty certain we’ll hear a lot of stories and news coverage about both (particularly the bad ones.). In our business, we’ve been trying our hardest to focus on the wellbeing of our people as paramount. We hope it helps, and we try to do better each day that passes. That said, it does make you wonder why it’s taken this pandemic for some businesses to shine a spotlight on employee wellbeing and treating people right? Regardless of the answer, the fact is, many businesses have realised they have to do better and right now are doing better. Those that don’t and remain focussed on the bottom line only (it’s important, but remember who drives it), will find they are the biggest losers in the new world. They won’t attract or retain the right talent and they will see their business begin to suffer through poor customer service, lack of innovation etc. Bad talent affects the bottom line. Now is the time for businesses to put people first and not just say it but mean it and show it.
By Rayna Miller, Head of Employee Engagement, DCC