As we start to see an ease in COVID-19 restrictions, businesses are planning and preparing to re-open or expand operations. If your business is not already trading, now is the time to plan for getting back to business.
One of the challenges employers are likely to face is the tension between getting back to work and preparing their workforce to embrace the new reality and meet evolving demands. Management teams bear the responsibility of navigating their companies through the changed landscape.
Regardless of scale and the lifecycle of your business we’re all confronted by the same concerns: where to begin, how to keep people protected, when to communicate, and what’s the right way to move forward.
Here are 4 essential considerations to ensure a successful transition back to work.
A COVID-19 Safety Plan will help you keep up-to-date with public health orders and any changes to restrictions. It may include how you rethink the physical setup of your establishment, staff training and the actions you put in place to comply with social distancing requirements and hygiene procedures. There are many sector specific workplace guidelines and resources available to support businesses through the transition.
Here are a few checklists and templates available to help you develop your workplace plan.
The way your business operates, the markets you service, the products you sell and services you deliver may need to adapt to fit the ‘new normal’ and minimum health and safety requirements. Identifying key processes and tasks in your business will help address what policies, procedures and processes need to be amended or put in place to manage any risks.
The global crisis has been a catalyst for business leaders to address what is and is not working for their business and make necessary changes to fit the current climate. Your workforce planning and business strategy will be driven by market influences. Understanding the impact COVID-19 has had and continue to have on your customers, supply and partner networks and employees will determine your business model.
Here are a few questions to assist your business model review:
How has COVID-19 affected your customers and how will this translate to your business?
Can your business change or expand your goods or services to meet emerging demands?
Are there other ways you can provide your services more effectively?
What infrastructure does your business need to service requirements and operate efficiently?
In part to reviewing your business model there may be impacts to how you deploy your workforce. Adapting your business model will factor how best to build and maintain the continuity of work and at what capacity.
It is reasonable to assume your staff and customers will behave differently upon return. Consider tasks that must be completed and needs to be met to identify if flexible working arrangements could help your business’ sustainability.
Introducing a roster system, looking at a change in duties, encouraging employees to work from home, inviting people back onsite or a combination of work scenarios may assist in mitigating risks, complying with COVID-19 minimum standards and managing business costs.
Regardless of the type of deployment, buy-in from staff and enabling your people with the right resources and support they need to be productive is essential if you want to achieve peak performance for your business.
One of the key take-aways of COVID-19 is the emphasis on embedding a people-first approach to business. This not only considers the health and wellbeing of your workforce, customers and the community, but extends to how management encourages interaction between these groups.
Implementing a communications strategy that is clear, transparent and empathetic is important to build trust and loyalty with your stakeholders. Aim to communicate through platforms that allow for connection and collaboration.
An effective communication plan can strengthen corporate culture, increase employee engagement and boost productivity and loyalty – setting your business in the best position when it’s time to re-open. Schedule regular communications to share your vision with your staff about what’s coming next and encourage feedback.
Here are a few ways to achieve this:
Create employee surveys and company-wide activity (i.e. quiz)
Encourage cross-collaboration & team bonding by sharing initiatives and setting up special interest groups.
Digital/online video conferencing (i.e. skype, zoom)
Intranet news/update pages
Social media private group channels
Schedule emails and office blogs on topics to motivate staff
As the economy begins the road to recovery, now is the time for businesses to learn and emerge stronger. One thing is certain. Businesses will need to prepare and re-shape their business model to succeed in the ‘new normal’.