By Anne Welsh – Founder and CEO Painless Universal
August 2nd, 2020.
The coronavirus pandemic has overnight, forced many business leaders around the world to implement digital transformation in their businesses. On the positive side, there have been executives and managers who once opposed or resistant to the idea of remote working, have been pleasantly surprised to discover the various benefits that it can have on a workforce.
Previous to COVID, remote work was long considered as a perk and companies often used remote benefits to entice workers during the recruiting process. Even though there is an increase in familiarity with remote work across industries and sectors, there remains many uncertainties around what work arrangements will look like once the threat of the virus subsides and employees begin to return to the office.
At Painless Universal we have developed guidelines that will help you evaluate how workers transition into the ‘new normal’ of working as they begin returning to work after significant terms of lockdown.
The first and most important consideration is that you must get the balance right between the needs of your business and the employee’s expectations of a safe working environment. Taking a positive point of view, this is the perfect time to review the strategic intent of your business and how you can deliver profits going forward considering manpower levels and incorporate the latest technology.
Not all businesses will survive or continue with the same amount of staff or working the same processes as before. Therefore, be realistic in your analysis. During this review, remove as much pain from the process as possible. It is highly recommended to be kind to everyone around you as there will be difficult decisions to be made and the better feelings between your staff simply means there will be less emotional burden that you will have to take as a decision maker. Conversely, some businesses will thrive going forward. In these instances, don’t be timid as the first movers in many sectors that seize opportunities to expand or restructure will have result in both the company and staff rewarded.
Be sceptical of your assumption that remote working intrinsically delivers the same or higher productivity in the organisation. There are many examples of a video link working well with a team that has already been engaged in normal workplace conditions pre-COVID, but there are many reports that this same efficiency does not translate to business development for new clients, whether local or international based. Implementors of agriculture, industry and logistics almost universally have to be at location or items just don’t get produced or delivered.
A final consideration revolves around workplace decisions made based on personal risk profiles on contracting COVID and those that conflict with wider societal needs. If the assertion is that children must return to school or the future becomes disrupted negatively for children of this generation, then that single act allows parents to return to a normal working cycle and with that change, a return to onsite working rather than being constrained in a remote working bubble is routinely possible.
Pre-COVID working norms are likely to return but the pace of this return is the topic that will be endlessly debated. However. it is irrefutable that technology will continue to be applied in unique ways and this will shape the future of the workplace for many decades to come.