It would be fair to say that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a considerable impact on many aspects of our lives.
From pushing us to create new habits, experience new social boundaries, change the way we work as well as readjust our expectations, this crisis has undeniably given us many opportunities to reevaluate the status quo and has served as a vital reminder of how important it is to remain open minded to the inevitability of change.
Indeed, those who wish to thrive rather than merely survive post COVID-19, will be those who will wholeheartedly embrace the “new norm” and make it their own. This goes for businesses just as much as for individuals.
Yet, amongst the abundance of information out there, you may be wondering how best to do so and where to start. Here we share some of our recommendations…
Make Room for Proactivity
With no crystal ball to give us guidance on what the future has in store for us, it is very hard to plan for said future.
Yet, as the world continues to be in a state of limbo, especially with lockdown measures differing between countries (and sometimes even between states or regions), now is the best time to be proactive, and plan for a post-lockdown world (whenever that may be).
Whether that be putting in place a “return to the office” roster or officialising long-term remote working measures, you will need to remain agile whilst taking both the government’s recommendations and employees’ needs into account.
Whilst this will not be easy, this will be our new reality for some time, and as such, businesses will have to be extremely cautious in being compliant whilst meeting their goals as well as nurturing and retaining their talent for long term growth.
Being proactive will mean different things to different people (and different businesses), but this could include:
– Organising a brainstorming session with your executive team to do a “state of play” so as to reallocate responsibilities to ride the wave (this is especially pertinent if you’ve had to reduce your workforce due to the crisis)
– Outsourcing your HR function to save on costs whilst staying on top of ever changing laws. This is especially useful so that you can concentrate on your core business.
– Researching and investing in digitising your business so as to ease collaboration and communication. Since there is a very high chance you’ll be reviewing your budgets, now is the time to plan for long term investments.
Creating a plan of action for the unknown may seem daunting, however the exercise will keep your business agile and centred. Whilst being proactive is incredibly important, we wouldn’t recommend doing it without reflecting on your business needs and goals, which brings us to our next point…
Reflect & Reevaluate as a Team
Like many other crises before it, the COVID-19 pandemic has broken down many liberties we took for granted, and in turn, has sown the seeds for change on a massive scale.
Since this doesn’t occur very often, there is no better time to reflect as a business and as an employer so as to learn from the experience and come out of this better than where you started. And the best part about this particular situation is that this process of reflection doesn’t need to be (and shouldn’t be) a lonely one.
In this (new) world of ours, where the desire and need for transparent open communication and sense of community are heightened, now is the time to encourage your employees to speak up and get involved.
By including your entire staff in this process, not only will you be garnering precious and diverse insights, but you’ll also be reinforcing community bonds and building upon your existing company culture, making it stronger than ever.
Furthermore, by turning this essential reflection into a group exercise, you will not only make your staff feel valued and heard, increasing their general wellbeing, but you will also lessen stress and decrease pressure on your leadership team.
Finally, by taking this opportunity to be more inclusive (and perhaps level out your company hierarchy), you will set the standards for the “new future”, one that invites more people to share ideas, which in turn will make your business more progressive, modern and agile to change. This should also naturally improve your talent retention in the long run making this a win-win for everyone!
In order to keep things fair, simple and honest, we recommend anonymously surveying your employees to gather their feedback on how they perceive the future of work within your business. You never know what original ideas might come up!
Questions to ask could include:
– “How do you think we could be more agile as a business?”
– “How do you see your team evolving in this new future?”
– “With the COVID-19 pandemic fundamentally changing our culture, how should we distribute work and deploy our workforce?”
– “How do we keep our people (you) engaged?”
– “How do you see our working arrangements changing?”
– “Do you think our current business model works, and if not, how would you amend it?”
– “How can we develop new ways of working?”
– “What new best practices should we set up?”
Whilst these are merely suggestions, which we recommend you customise to your business and its own unique goals and needs, this is a great place to start.
Quick tip: when crafting this reflection process, it’s worth taking into consideration what worked and what didn’t (or still doesn’t) for your business during the crisis.
Put a Plan in Place, but Remain Agile
Once your business has brainstormed and collected ideas on what the “future of work” looks like for you, the last step is to take action and plan for the “new normal”.
At this stage, the best place to start is by going through your team’s anonymous feedback to spot any trends. Once popular ideas are collated, you’ll need to go through your updated strategy and business goals, so as to make sure any changes to your workforce don’t impact their success.
In order to do so, we recommend not imposing a ‘one-size-fits-all’ plan for teams, so as to keep them engaged and productive, but still maintaining regular “anchor days” in the office to strengthen and build on culture, social cohesion, communication and well-being. How this looks and takes shape is up to you.
Whilst you’re working on building a plan (as well as once it is in place), open and transparent communication will be key.
We highly recommend mentioning to your teams that defining the future of work within your business is and will continue to be a process of consultation and compromise, and may well evolve on the long-term as the needs of the business, employers and employees change.
Flexibility will be a matter of ‘give-and-take’ for all. By being straight-forward from the get-go, you’ll set precedence so as to create more understanding amongst your staff. This should help alleviate any disappointments that might arise.
This is especially relevant during the evolution of the COVID-19 pandemic, which may affect or influence how plans / rosters may change or evolve in the short-term.
Whatever final plan is decided upon, you’ll need to remember that there will most certainly be a period of transition, and as such, you should leave some room for trial and error.
Teams should be encouraged to share what works or not as quickly as possible so that the company may monitor results on the go and shift accordingly in a timely manner.
We usually have no idea what the future holds (but even more so now), which means making agility a priority for your business is what will determine your ability to thrive, rather than just survive post crisis.
Remaining open-minded, transparent in your communication and able to react on the fly, will be essential for your business to move forward and sustain in this ever-changing world.
So, how will you define the future of work for your business post crisis?