COVID-19: Could There Be A Positive Impact on Business?

As everyone is well aware, we are in the throes of a global pandemic where things change rapidly from one day to the next. There’s no denying that the Coronavirus outbreak and everything it brings with it has rocked the UK’s infrastructure to its foundations. But as the situation unfolds, I’ve found myself asking the unimaginable: could our reaction to COVID-19 actually give us some positives outcomes for the business world?

A period of change

It may sound preposterous to some of you, but hear me out because the more I’ve thought about this the more I’m starting to believe it might be true. They say necessity is the mother of invention, and so far we’ve seen incredible strides being made across a myriad of sectors in the UK alone. Not only that, but the time in which it’s taken for organisations to transform their operations to fit with our new way of life is staggering.

I’m not denying that tough times still lie ahead, but we’ve seen what can truly be achieved when distractions are taken away and transformation programmes are prioritised. This pandemic has caused a watershed moment for many and pushed through transformations that may not have come to fruition for years to come.

Change that we previously thought would take 2-3 years minimum to implement has been achieved in just one week. Take the higher education sector for instance, solely online courses were previously seen as something that would take years to pull off. Yet out of necessity in just 3 weeks several universities across the globe have made all of their courses accessible online.

The end solution may not be perfect and business will always need to do more to retrospectively upgrade and fix any issues but at least they are doing something and have made that change. They have acknowledged that the change was needed, they reacted fast and most of all they gave their end customer a way of interacting with them to keep a semblance of normality. 

A collaborative effort

We need to take a step back and appreciate the levels of collaboration and cross-pollination of specialisms taking place at the moment. Take Dyson for instance and their foray into ventilator production: the vacuum innovation company pledged to manufacture 15,000 CoVent ventilators to help ease the strain on the NHS. It only took them 10 days to design the CoVent following news of the country’s struggle for sufficient resources.

Dyson aren’t the only ones utilising their means to help beat COVID-19, car manufacturers Vauxhall, Rolls Royce and Mercedes Benz have also dedicated their factories to creating ventilator parts while Scottish brewery Brewdog has used its tools to manufacture hand sanitizer. Everywhere you look you’ll see businesses making smart, proactive decisions try and stop the virus in its tracks.

Yes, the world is experiencing great tragedy right now but equally when was the last time we saw this level of unity and collaboration? And in a time of social distancing no less. One thing is for sure: when the dust has settled around coronavirus, these companies will be revered for their efforts for years to come. We have spoken to people at DHL who are tirelessly driving to hospitals to delivery PPE supplies because they want to do their part.  Not for a moment are these businesses seeking to monetise this effort or looking at their share price but they are collaborating for the good of the nation.

A new way of working

Probably one of the biggest changes we’ve seen implemented across the country, perhaps even the world, is the move to remote working. I know from conversations I’ve had with clients that setting up modern workplace migrations to cloud based systems has been on their radars for some time but often took some real convincing to make it a priority.

The technology has been there all along, and what’s become apparent just lately is that what was holding people back from such a big change was predominantly cultural. Once again, necessity has pushed us past any preconceived notions about working from home and it is swiftly becoming our ‘new normal’.

The sheer flexibility seen from organisations who in a matter of days managed to migrate their entire operation to a remote working setup has been phenomenal. Knowing how long these projects were estimated to take, the rate at which our workforce has transformed and settled in to working from home is nothing short of miraculous.

Take Deltra for instance, we’ve had Microsoft Teams for a while and utilised it in part here and there. Since lockdown, we’ve used it every single day to stay in touch with clients, candidates and arguably most importantly: each other. We haven’t allowed this pandemic to negatively impact the service we deliver, in part because the technology we have is so good that there really isn’t any excuse to.

Is remote working here to stay after we emerge from lockdown? It’s hard to say whether the world will revert back to the way we worked before, or if this crisis will have lead us into the future. My personal take on it is that we can’t do a complete 180, some aspects of working life will return to pre-lockdown status but I do think it has shown us what is truly possible.

The need for people to remain connected and visible is greater than ever before. I for one enjoy being in the office and with other people, however, being able to work from home has been fantastic and I feel we have been able to remain connected to the entire team during this period. 

Perhaps an influx in remote working will even see the emergence of a more diverse workforce across the UK. Any business change leader with awareness around bias in the workplace will tell you that it’s been a longstanding battle trying to move businesses towards more accessible ways of working. Be it due to childcare responsibilities or disabilities and conditions that make daily office commutes unsuitable, perhaps we’ll start to see flexible and remote working options offered as standard.

How can you keep going?

My point is that this level of business continuity is attainable for anyone looking to take the risk and push for change that will ultimately make your organisation better. The best results I’ve seen are from those who just keep going, those who don’t just drop all projects and programmes altogether and wait for things to turn back around. Doing nothing is a big risk in and of itself.

I understand the temptation to drop tools entirely to preserve budget but isn’t it better to not only ensure your teams have a business to come back to, but make it a better business at that? If you simply can’t push the button on transformation projects due to budget concerns or a lack of resource – then utilise this time to reflect and strategise instead.

We are all aware that when we get into a post Covid-19 world things will forever be different. Our attitudes, approach and ways of working and engaging will change. More so than ever before the business world will need to think about this change and behave differently. It’s for this reason that we see this as an opportunity; an opportunity to think differently and to reprioritise everything.

In that spirit of collaboration and each of us playing our parts, I wanted to extend an invitation to anyone reading this who is unsure on how to approach their post Covid-19 world to get in touch. Let’s speak about what this could mean for your business and explore some of the changes you’ll need to make. We are happy to open up our network to you and introduce you to people who can lend a helping hand and share their insight and advice. 

 If you’ve got upcoming business transformation programmes in the pipeline, don’t hesitate to get in touch with myself of any member of the Deltra team, we’d relish the opportunity to lend our expertise when it comes to recruiting for positive change.

Mike Weston

23rd April

Industry Insight