Planning for business as unusual

2 June 2020 Posted by: Patrick Woods Posted In: Crisis management

Businesses are reopening which poses specific challenges


If, like me, you “enjoy” your politics then recently there has been much to be entertained by. But in the midst of all this, it could easily have escaped the attention that we appear to have moved onto the next stage of the COVID-19 crisis. This has incorporated the taking of relatively modest decisions aimed at restarting our economies. We have been giving considerable thought to the challenges this poses for businesses which we would like to share. 

  • Individuals are craving certainty. For many this is focussed around the future of office versus homeworking. If, as looks increasingly likely, it may not be possible to get all people back together in an office environment this year, then this should be made clear. People need to be given the space to plan. 
  • Clarity on this issue will also provide the opportunity and time to plan how office space use can be best structured in future. Consider involving those it will impact most, as they know their needs best and may come up with creative solutions.
  • Be careful not to assume it will be easy to return people to an office environment. Similarly, do we know if there are individuals who may have concerns about how they can travel safely to work? It is likely that many individuals will be fearful at this prospect, so perhaps a support mechanism could be put in place to meet such issues head-on?
  • Consider the implications of your employee age profile. Young people are more likely to have modest-sized living accommodation and young families. They are also likely to depend on the office environment for their social life, so for these reasons it may make sense to prioritise their return over older members of staff.
  • What about hiring plans? Consider what may be the unique challenges involved in hiring people. It may not be possible to meet face-to-face, or at best from a social distance for some time. How will an induction process operate? It is likely that specialist external resources will be required to help manage this process. 
  • Have any recent hires been made who may require re-introducing to the organisation or at least given some careful attention, especially if they have been furloughed? Indeed, there is anecdotal evidence to suggest that staff may have been unsettled by the furloughing process and could be actively seeking alternative employment elsewhere. 
  • More generally, what unique challenges involving building and sustaining organisational culture may need attending to right now? 

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list, there will of course be other challenges. The key point to consider is that as we roll hopefully quickly through the various stages of crisis recovery, we will need to summon all our skills and resources to ensure we can successfully meet the major challenges that lie ahead.

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