The Government is taking the first cautious steps to ease the lockdown and your business needs to be ready for what comes next. It's unlikely that business will revert to normal.
So how can you prepare for the unknown? We've put together some actions you can take to help get your prepare your business for the end of lockdown.
Adapting to new processes
With the business landscape in crisis mode, many long-term goals from before will need to be adjusted, in some cases even scrapped. In their place are shorter-term challenges, supported by new technology solutions.
Tasks may include adapting to a disruption in your supply chain or embracing analysis and getting ahead of stresses in the business.
In practice, this could mean quickly deploying SaaS solutions that work out of the box or implementing tools that rapidly problem solve.
Either way, there will be a dependency on technology with the likely hood being most of the technology will be new to your business.
Health and safety measures
Despite returning to your place of work the risk of infection of Covid-19 remains. Employers are obligated to ensure they take reasonable steps to provide employees with a safe place of work.
You will need to run the appropriate risk assessments and then implement controls to cover any identified risks. While you can expect guidance from the Government, this will not remove the obligation on employers to consider their specific circumstances and it won't be specific for your industry or your premises.
We recommend staying up to date with the Government advice but here are some health and safety issues to consider include:
This will likely involve deciding on the minimum number of staff necessary to be in the workplace at any time. Steps to allow for social distancing may include:
- Displaying signage and floor markings to remind employees/customers to observe social distancing guidance, wherever possible.
- Continued working from home for some staff
- Staggering start and finish times
- Rotation system for being present in the workplace and/or reduced hours
Does your current floorplan of workstations allow for social distancing? Can one-way pathways be created through buildings that allow for this? Can the physical features of your workplace be changed to maximize protection for staff and customers/clients?
Can you minimise staff commuting at peak hours and encourage using modes of transport which reduce exposure to others? If workers need to share vehicles to carry out work, can such use be minimised?
Along with the familiar reminders to handwash frequently employers may need to consider whether PPE or simple facial masks should be worn in the workplace or any trips staff have to make during working hours.
You will need to check your insurance arrangements to ensure you have appropriate cover in place. You may also want to notify your insurance provider of the plans to return staff to the workplace.
It seems like some form of remote working is here to stay. Experts are predicting 25-30 per cent of the workforce will be remote for much of the week by next year.
If you want to ramp up your business post-COVID 19, your remote work setup will need to be ramped up as well. For example, the current VPN infrastructure wasn’t designed to handle the excessive traffic remote work creates.
Companies will need help getting secure access to high-intensity, GPU/CPU intensive applications currently outside a public cloud environment they have been used to using.
How do you decide who should return and when? Should you have a staggered start to build up to a full return? Is there a need for certain roles to be present in the office? Can your staff continue to work from home?
If you do not require all staff back immediately how do you select staff to return in the first wave? Until schools and nurseries are open, staff will continue to have issues around working whilst accommodating childcare responsibilities.
What happens if an employee refuses to return? Naturally, some staff will be worried about coming back to work and they may refuse to. Such concerns will need to be managed sensitively. You should seek to understand the reasons for the objection to returning to the workplace.
As well as communicating with staff, communication with your customers and suppliers is vital.
For your customers
- Let customers know when you are reopening, including any changes to opening times and working practices.
- Tell them about the hygiene measures you’re implementing to keep them and your employees safe and how it might impact their experience.
- Tell them about any precautions they need to take, such as booking in advance or paying via contactless.
- Use all of your digital communication channels, such as social media, website, email signature, mailing list etc.
For your suppliers
- Let suppliers know when you’re reopening.
- Communicate any new measures you’re putting in place around deliveries
Right now is the ideal time for getting your digital house in order
Most businesses will have their core systems at idling speed or stopped completely. This gives you a rare opportunity to deal with certain items that were previously on the 'back-burner'.
This could include fast-tracking some development work that needed to be done. Maybe it's replacing some fragile systems within the business. It’s the digital equivalent of spring cleaning. If done correctly you can see an increase in productivity when your business is ready to ramp up again.
Cybersecurity always remains an important topic. Even if our current circumstances criminals are trying to take advantage. Scam emails are on the increase because many businesses aren't follow protected when working remotely.
Tips for working from home
At the time of writing, we are still in a state of lockdown and have been for over two months. That means there isn’t much more advice we can give on working from home – so we’ve decided to recap some important lessons we’ve learned.
- Check that you haven’t accidentally left your camera and microphone on. This could result in information being shared with unauthorised parties.
- Make sure you don’t have any sensitive information in the background when you make video calls.
- Catch up with your colleagues socially. This helps break up the isolation that comes with remote working and is a chance to discuss any lingering problems that might be affecting employees’ productivity and wellbeing.
- Block out time in your calendar when you need to get work done and don’t want the distractions that come with messages and video calls. You can also change the status of your instant messaging client to ‘busy’ or ‘do not disturb’.
As the first tentative steps are taken to head back to something like normal your business needs to be prepared. The needs of your workforce and your customers will have changed.
Technology will play a big part in your ability to adapt and continue to adapt as we start to understand what the new normal looks like. Infotech can help you with all your technology needs. Contact us here, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call us on 01634 52 52 52.