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Bouncing back – how to get ahead of the curve as we return to work

10 August 2020

Everything we previously took for granted in the workplace has been affected in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic. Tried and tested ways of working have been changed, potentially forever, while our home lives and professional lives have become increasingly blurred.

There is still no clear picture of when all this will be a thing of the past but we, as individuals and organisations, need to prepare ourselves for a future that none of us could have predicted.

Bouncing back from this upheaval is not going to be easy for any of us but how we overcome these challenges will define us.

As a Growth Hub, we are here to help you and services such as our business resilience toolkit and our Growth Curve programme will prove useful as you and your business not only survive, but thrive in the future.

There’s a lot to come to terms with and a lot to consider when we start to map out what changes need to be made to the way we operate.

The best way to navigate this change is to accept it for what it is, embrace the challenge and plan for, rather than fear, the future.

Our business adviser Gordon Sparke said: “Clear leadership is even more important in periods of uncertainty. COVID-19 has placed even more demands on leaders of small businesses as it creates fear in employees and stakeholders alike.

“What leaders need during a crisis is not a predefined response plan but behaviours and mindsets that will prevent them from overreacting to yesterday’s events and help them look ahead to tomorrow’s challenges and opportunities.

“Top down command and control is never an effective leadership style, however in a crisis, leaders must avoid the temptation to resort to such a response thinking it will engender stability. Leaders must set clear priorities and empower colleagues to discover and implement solutions that serve these priorities.

“To promote rapid problem solving under stressful, chaotic conditions, leaders should organise a network of teams which are united by a common purpose.
“The key priorities leaders should focus on are employee protection, customer engagement, supply chain stabilisation and most importantly financial stress testing.

“Open communication is critical as is empathy and transparency in a crisis. Within an information vacuum, stakeholders will create their own, not always helpful, narrative.

We’ve put together a number of key questions you need to ask yourselves as a business leader as you prepare to emerge from lockdown life.

  •  Physical and psychological safety of teams: What precautions and actions will you take to reassure employees that your workspace is safe to return to? (Mental health of employees, a gradual return to work, regular deep cleaning of the workspace etc)
  •  Flexible work: What flexibility will you provide on where, when and how your employees work? While many will have loved working from home, others will be desperate to get back to the office – how do you balance that and what role does technology have to play?
  • Workplace policy and practices: How will you evolve your existing workplace policies and practices to attract and retain talent in the long term (e.g. working from home, flexible working, paid time off)?
  •  Employee experience: How will you redesign your staff’s working lives to fit your business and employee needs (e.g., virtual hiring/onboarding, chatbots, focus on re-skilling/cross-training, live dashboards)?
  •  Support: How will you balance business recovery with the need to support and employees impacted by coronavirus?

 

We have created a toolkit for businesses in partnership with Grant Thornton to get you thinking about how you can navigate uncertainty and disruption in times of change. Take a look here.

The quicker your company can understand what the future looks like for you and what it means for building a stronger business, the more likely it is that you will be ‘ahead of the curve’ when it comes to an economic recovery, enabling you to get one step ahead of your competitors and putting you in a stronger position for future growth.

No matter what stage you are at on your journey to bouncing back, here at the Growth Hub, we are with you every step of the way.

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