Doing business better: a post-pandemic strategy
All UK businesses that have continued to trade during lockdown have had to drastically adapt.
With the economy opening back up again it is clear that the way we do business has changed forever.
Many business owners are considering how they will adapt to the ‘new normal’ once the government advises that all staff can return back to office working.
Ben Palmer, senior employment solicitor at Ison Harrison Solicitors Ltd, and Emma Easton, director at Strand Recruitment Ltd, have been looking at the challenges ahead for businesses and how they can adapt, plus they will be hosting a free business webinar giving advice for a post lockdown strategy and adapting to the ‘new normal’.
Ben believes there are many factors to consider when adapting to a post lockdown business strategy: “This is a significant issue facing UK employers given that the Office for National Statistics says that 35.9 per cent of the population has worked from home at some point during the pandemic.
“What employers decide to do in relation to their workforce following lockdown will predominantly be an operational one. If employers believe that there are good business reasons why staff should return back to the office, then as long as employers adhere to government guidelines and staff do not reasonably believe that being at work would place them (or someone else) in serious, imminent danger, then employers should be able to require most of their employees to return to working in the office.”
Emma concurs and says there are pressing decisions for businesses to make. “It can’t be overlooked that home working does have a number of advantages in many sectors, such as increased productivity, improved work life balance and savings on office space. However, employers are concerned about the impact of home working on employee engagement.”
Ben continues: “My experience is that with the increased use of video conferencing and instant chat, employees still feel engaged with their employer.
Ison Harrison’s own staff survey of over 200 employees showed that 71 per cent felt either as well connected or even more so to their colleagues whilst working from home.”
However, according to the trade union Prospect, members’ mental health is being compromised due to home working as the separation between work and leisure time has become blurred. Prospect are lobbying the government to give employees a legally binding ‘right to disconnect’ outside of their normal working hours.’
So if we all head back to the office, what will the ‘new normal’ look like for employers?
Both Emma and Ben believe that most employers will opt for ‘hybrid working’. This would achieve a balance of being in the workplace whilst also maintaining the flexibility of home working, to an extent.
This view is supported by the government’s Flexible Working Taskforce which has suggested that, after lockdown, flexible working should be the ‘new default’ for employers. This view is also supported by the Welsh government.
In April 2021 the House of Lord Select Committee issued a report titled Beyond Digital: Planning for a Hybrid World to better support employers and employees that opt for hybrid working.
For a business to find the solution that is right for it, and its workforce, it is important that it is armed with the right advice and properly engages with its workforce.
To get expert advice on a post lockdown business strategy and how your business can adapt to the new normal, sign up to watch the full interview with Ben and Emma for FREE here. This will be followed by Ben hosting a live Q&A session to alleviate any Employment Law and HR issues your business may face.
For monthly employment and HR support for your business, Ison Harrison’s new In-House: Employment Law and HR service is ideal to help businesses adapt to a new way of working.