With the prospect of at least another few months of restrictions in the UK, the patterns of work that we have had to adjust to seem set to stay with us well into next year. The good news is that at this point, most organisations already have a good handle on how to manage business continuity remotely. But with the end of the furlough scheme (now extended until April) some will find themselves out of work, and the company with a gap where once there was a person, or people.
Tough Decisions Ahead
Even where this is not the case, it’s likely that within the next six months that companies will have to make some tough decisions. And the time to start making them is now. Organisations that can take a critical and objective look at the business and take decisions quickly will be better placed to weather the storms ahead.
Flexible Working Brings Benefits
The good news is that the scramble into remote working has forced organisations to reflect on the robustness of their systems, company culture, their supply chains and the technology that supports it all. Some have excelled themselves. They've supported staff in buying new laptops, new company phones, set up support networks of Zoom meetings for continued networking. While it’s not possible to replicate the dynamics of working in an office, for many the flexibility of working from home has brought with it unexpected bonuses.
CFOs Reconsider Office Space
As a result, CFOs are eyeing the office space and reflecting on the office footprint. Just as staff can save on petrol, time and expenses, so the business can make substantial savings on premises overheads. It’s likely that even once the pandemic has subsided - as subside it must – that a total return to how it was before is unlikely.
How do you Stay Visible?
As with most things, there are benefits and challenges to this. If you’re a junior or recent member of staff, how do you raise your visibility beyond your immediate circle of colleagues? If you’re an organisation that recognises the benefits of partnering within the business, what systems do you need to put in place to make sure this still happens? And if you have a strong and healthy relationship with your suppliers and customers that relies on site visits, how will you replicate that in the long term? Will you know if your strategic suppliers are struggling with cash flow? And if they are, what terms or packages can you introduce to protect them and your supply chain eco-system?
Act Well and Act Fast
The morale, sustainability and profitability of your company depends on knowing the answers to these kinds of questions. If you or your executive team can't provide the answers, you need to start finding them fast. But you don’t have to go it alone. Work with your suppliers and extended network, or you can look outside your existing network and seek the advice of analysts or consultants. Sometimes solutions to problems can be found by looking in places that haven’t previously been explored. Diversity of thought and opinion can breathe new life into an organisation, give impetus to innovation and drive growth in the future.