From that, which shall remain nameless
That event that contained us in our homes for an extended period will reorient our relationship with the world and each other. Some inevitable changes are going to feel unfamiliar or unsettling and others will improve our way of life. Employers will not be exempted and no doubt will be perplexed but those that can take advantage will thrive.
Over the next few months, we will be rolling out a blog series, on-line discussions and inviting CEOs and owners to our Advisory Board on Demand meetings to review and discuss these challenges. This is new territory, there are no experts and by the time we have them the opportunity will have passed. Crisis presents an opportunity – grab it!
Use this time to refresh strategy. We are facing a supply-side recession in which we have choked demand through self-imposed restrictions – were these too great? Was it better to be safe than sorry? We’ll likely never know but demand may come back in waves by sector, rather than incrementally across the board as with previous recessions. Where does your business figure in the recovery? Are there new customers, different marketing and what skills and staff will be needed to meet this new level of demand?
In several weeks either by decree or frustration, people are going to be ready to return to the workplace but they will not be the same. The complacency with which they previously approached the workplace will be gone; touching things, coming into contact with other people and just breathing in an enclosed space might all now cause concern. How quickly that will recede or if ever, remains to be seen. Over the last few years, you have likely worked hard on engagement. Efforts now need to be redoubled to ensure the workplace supports these sensitivities and new expectations.
What’s that? Won’t people be just happy to continue to have paid work? Yes, of course, they will and further, we know from previous crises that your people will sacrifice for the greater good. But that must be a two-way street and we can’t fall back, however, tempting into thinking people are a resource rather than an asset. That won’t get you very far.
Working from home will no longer be just an accommodation for working parents and colleagues with elderly dependents. Many will have overcome dependency on the water cooler and will want either for convenience or fear of infection want to continue to work from home. The need for the proximity of others is replaced with comfort in their absence, especially with folks that we do not know well. Is there a good reason for doing things in person? If it’s been working over the last few weeks how do we formalize and institutionalize the practice? What are the risks, what are the advantages and what do we need to do to make distance working more effective? Those with remote locations may find that culture now starts to transcend distance more effectively.
Some argue that this will be the end of individualism. On the contrary, folks are likely to have a greater recognition of how our fates are linked and demand substantial new investment in health care, public services, science, and education. Suffering will cause us to reconsider who we are and what we value. Employers ready to respond both with their employees and their customers will benefit.
Create the opportunity for people to share what worked well when operating from home, what didn’t and where they need more help if they want this to be a permanent facility. Let them know frequently what your thoughts are, where you see the recovery headed and how you think the business should be readying itself. More jaw is better than less.
Image by Stefan Wiegand from Pixabay.
Need a Yoda? We can help develop a strategy, work up an employment plan or mobilize the workforce. While this will be new we have seen a catastrophe or two and prior solutions will continue to have a role. In the great recession, we worked for free supporting our SME clients through difficult times. We plan to do so again through telephone consultations, The Recovery Blog and our Advisory Board on Demand.