Back to Work After COVID-19
As governments and industry begin to restart the global economy there are business that are beginning to phase their workforce back into the field. Obviously there's a financial incentive to do so, but in attempting to restart their businesses, the question remains - are they ready and what worked before, will it work again?
Whatever the individual strategy of the company, times have changed and there needs to be a look at the strategy that the company will adhere to moving forward. A strong 'people-centered' strategy needs to be at the centre of most company's restart.
Aligning Leadership: The new norm also requires a new way of leading the workforce. It's important that organizations understand that leaders will be challenged with operating in the new norm, or in the remote working environment. Some leaders thrive on engaging face to face with their teams, they enjoy the banter and way that they're able to communicate, coach and improve their teams will be gone. Moving to being reliant on videoconferences, email, phone calls or collaboration tools such as MS Team isn't everyone's forte. It's important that this is acknowledged and that proper resources are also allocated to the leadership teams priorities and tools to manage the new workplace.
Aligning employees: mAfter months sitting at home, I think business will be surprised that employees will be happy to be back in the office, to being able to contribute and feel a greater sense of worth, to be out of their house or apartment and to be interacting again with their colleagues. Are employees aware of the risks that they'll face when they're back at work, has the organization implemented the engineering and administrative requirements to keep people safe? Do employees need more access to company resources such as the employee assistance program? Some of our colleagues may have lost loved ones, or have mental 'scars' from being locked away for so long. For the leadership team it is absolutely critical that they make a proper assessment of what will be needed to support employees when they return to the workplace, and dedicate the resources to ensuring re-integration - just as they would've when they first onboarded those employees.
Adherence to Government Guidelines: Every country in the world has slightly different rules and regulation. The standard social distancing - 1.5 metres or 2 metres, barrier or no barrier, facemask or no facemask, vaccination or no vaccination - how do global companies find a common strategy that fits all their business, or is that even necessary?. Will the company need to redesign their job tasks and work environment to adhere to the government guidelines? Essentially, the strategy and approach that is taken will depend on the nature of the business. Business owners need to focus on compliance locally, and ensure that local management are empowered to implement the measures needed for compliance whilst still ensuring best practice and also understanding the company's operational, cultural and logistical realities.
Aligning Safety Culture: Within all companies, there's a safety culture and even subculture. Whether we like it or not, there's going to be a perception amongst the workforce about how the company handled the response to the virus. It is inevitable that there will be groups or individuals that don't feel that the company handled the virus well - as a leadership team it's important that you acknowledge that not every decision or action that impacted the workforce may have been perfect. This will give you a stepping stone to improve, the engage with the workforce about the next steps and improve overall perceptions of the workforce and defining the strategic priorities for restarting the business in earnest.