Innovation happens in times of crises
Think World Wars. Diseases. Catastophes brought on by climate change. It is no different for us today living in the COVID-19 situation. We have been in lockdown. We are now considering a return to normal life. A life that will never be as ‘normal’ as that which we left behind some months ago.
In the UK, as in other places across the globe, we have to think about what normality is for us. In particular, this blog is about some questions to consider, and my humble opinion, about getting back to normality in the workplace during and after COVID-19. But, what is normality in the workplace? For each workplace, in my opinion, it will be different. How will your workplace differ? What are your views, as the country discusses return to work?
One such innovation is that of a local pub in our area who started a drive-through bbq service. I only found out about it after the date, but I will be watching out for the next bbq! Another is the ‘big boys’ working with the ‘little boys’ – M&S a well-known British organisation, met up with Deliveroo, part of the gig economy delivery service.
What are you going to do now that your workforce will be able to return to work “tomorrow” as our erstwhile Prime Minister indicated in his statement last night.
Work being your normal place of work. Your office. Your workspace.
What does your organisation look like today?
What will it look like tomorrow after COVID-19?
When is this going to happen?
Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s statement last night intimated that it will be sooner rather than later. In fact, he said the word “tomorrow” that being today, Monday 11 May.
How many of us are ready for a return today?
How practical is it?
Where will your people return?
How will you transition back to work?
So many questions. So many questions.
Now that most organisations have experienced first-hand that working remotely, from home, has advantages, will this become the norm? It is not for everyone, but everyone can be trained to work remotely. They have had to do so very quickly.
Not all organisations can work remotely. Think of our carers, doctors and nurses in the NHS as well as other Key Workers. Think of the organisations that need hands-on care.
BUT, even now we have virtual appointments with our doctors; we have a helpline to the NHS where we describe our symptoms and we are provided with a solution!
It is efficient, if not more so than being in an office.
Is it time to ask – why haven’t you considered this form of working before?
Presenteeism has been a word bandied about often in the workplace. By working remotely, work has to be outcome-based. That is important.
What have you done today that has been productive?
Why have you not been able to complete that in the time that you have available?
Does it matter where you work? Does it matter when you work?
Not really. Provided you get the job done, in the time that it is needed to be done. And you are available for your customers when they need assistance.
Do you realise that some of your workforce may not be back at work?
- They may have childcare responsibilities and do not want to send their children to school until the COVID-19 situation is clear.
- They may have experienced working in a different way, and decide that it is what they want to continue to do.
- They may be considering another option, to become self-employed, or to take up a new job.
You may decide that you don’t need the same workforce that you had pre-COVID-19. You may diversify. You may find that your product is not viable, but you have something different to offer.
Where will you meet to discuss the way forward with your employees? So often it is your employees who will have suggestions and ideas to help you along.
Video conference, training videos, webinairs have been available for many years. But, they have now come into their own. They are growing businesses. Zoom, Skype, Teams, watching theatre productions from your home, as has been shown in The Shows Must Go On based on Andrew Lloyd Webber’s productions and The National Theatre, as well as virtual visits to museums are different ways of working.
Are these the workplaces of the future?
This is how new employment begins.
A catastrophe. A solution.
Think – Wars. Foot and Mouth Outbreaks. Disease.
How will we get back to ‘normal’ work?
It’s the practical things to consider.
What is legal?
What is best business and HR practice and what the government considers is necessary.
How can these be dealt with in practical terms?
It is not simply a matter of come in and start working.
We have to consider whether work spaces need deep cleaning.
How many of us can be in the workspace at the same time.
How do we employ social distancing?
What happens when you feel ill? A headache? A cold? Coughing?
Innovations happen in times of crises.
Whilst we have been in lockdown, we have seen many innovations and different ways of working.
- Supermarkets using different methods for shopping. Different timings for shopping for vulnerable people or older people. ‘One way’ human traffic systems.
- A local pub in my area, last week, offered a ‘drive through bbq’. You HAD to place your order beforehand, you were given a drive-through time to collect your burger (and they looked like very good burgers even if I don’t eat meat – there was a veggie option too).
- The gig economy boomed. The self-employed delivery company, Deliveroo, came into it’s own. How fabulous to see the big organisations such as M&S having to link up with the smaller self-employed person.
- I watched a programme on TV on Sunday – farmers supplying customers direct with their vegetables, rather than through a supermarket.
- Bakers supplying customers direct with their flour, because the wholesalers do not have packaging to make up the smaller amounts required by the ordinary person.
- Workplaces have increased sanitiser stations.
Social distancing means putting in place ways and means for employees to be able to do so on an everyday level.
Are we moving back to buying local?
We have always known that the economy of the country depends on the small business.
Now is the time to show how we support our small businesses.
What are your views, as the country discusses the pros and cons of returning to work, and how we do so.
You may like to read our previous articles relating to COVID-19
If you would like to discuss any employment matters further and find out how we could help you please contact us Embrace HR Limited. Phone us or contact us here.
Based in Aylesbury, Buckinghamshire, Embrace HR Limited supports business owners who do not have their own HR department or those that do but need help from time to time. We also work across the Home Counties of Oxfordshire, Bedfordshire and Hertfordshire, and also SMEs based in London.