The working environment has seen unprecedented changes this week. As many employees are urged to work from home, business owners and managers are left with a whole new landscape to adapt to.
Our Managing Director, Richard Deas spoke to us about how he felt about entering these unchartered waters.
There must be many things running through your mind right now. What are your main business concerns over the Covid-19 outbreak?
‘The main concern apart from the virus itself (of course) is the wider effect it is causing to the economy. With the recent Brexit uncertainty being a big hurdle many businesses had to negotiate, we are now faced with more uncertainty and caution with no clear timescale.
Cashflow is always at the forefront of any business operating successfully – with these unprecedented events this is the main concern for most business owners. Will the sales keep coming? Will the market go quiet? How will our clients react? How long can we keep to lights on in a worst case scenario? Should I reduce my liabilities?
Another major consideration for business owners / managers is how to protect your workforce and keep the wheels turning?’
Understandably, there are many things you now need to consider given the implications of an unclear business landscape.
You have mentioned above about protecting your workforce. Homeworking has now been advised by the government wherever possible. This is, of course, possible for a business such as yours but there must be other concerns regarding staff being able to cope, especially if they contract Covid-19 and are unable to work?
‘We have taken the steps of remote working early on – thankfully we had already trialled this ahead of the government advice so we had all our processes and systems in place.
Policies regarding sick pay are very important at this time. With SSP (statutory sick pay) being reimbursed by the government (for 14 days) this is the obvious option. Can your sick employee manage of £94 per week though? How can you ensure you are looking after your staff financially when you are also conscious of business income? This depends on your sick pay policies of course so every business will be different. Prolonged absence and the fiscal implications are, however, a concern regardless of the size of the organisation.’
With your workforce now all working remotely do you have any other concerns?
‘Luckily we have a solid and reliable team so the typical homeworking issue of trust is not something we have to contend with, unfortunately this will not be the case for all companies. The next concern after physical health of the homeworkers is Wellbeing. Whilst health is the priority, wellbeing is just as crucial. How can we ensure mental wellbeing and the morale of our workforce whilst in social distancing / isolation situations?
We have found that positive virtual meetings, not all work (have some banter / don’t always talk shop!) and ensuring everyone is kept in regular contact, have helped us keep productivity and morale high. Of course, it is early days so we plan to keep a close eye on the wellbeing of our guys and provide help if and where needed.
Things have certainly changed and seem to show no signs of letting up anytime soon. How do you plan to manage the situation moving forward?
We are entering the unknown with such widespread homeworking. The best we can do is be mindful of the situation, potential pitfalls and act accordingly. If we are agile in our approach, we can navigate this situation successfully.’