How Will Businesses Cope With Forced Flexibility?

Aside from the devastating loss of lives that this pandemic has already brought, the most obvious enduring effects of COVID-19 will be remote working, fuelled by flexible and decentralised management practices, and more widely available technologies.

During a pandemic such as this, it’s only natural that we stop and take stock. While Coronavirus may only be visiting for some months, bringing with it forced isolation, social distancing and flurries of toilet paper, the reality is, the effects of Coronavirus will continue long after excessive hand-washing ensues. Life as we know it is about to change in a very dramatic way, and it won’t be business as usual.

A FORCED FLEXIBILITY is upon us. The virus will impose monumental changes when it comes to workplace policies. As businesses are scurrying to audit their staff and edit their workplace agenda, questions around the way things have been run for more than half a century are at play.

Insiders from The Big Four Banks tell us that they are working around the clock to implement changes to their bandwidth, so that tens of thousands of staff members can work from home – with an entire team dedicated to crisis-mode. Team members will be in lockdown in their own building in an effort to ‘flatten the curve’ and they are gearing up to get staff on board Microsoft 365 with full remote access to the server. Banks are currently setting up ‘Business Critical’ roles to determine the positions that are highly specialised and imperative to the productivity and workflow of the company, and which of those roles can transpire remotely.

The COO from a large food chain has informed us that the company is currently running a ‘test’ period, whereby staff are working from home. Their Continuity of Business Plan sees that all team members have a laptop, adequate internet, Skype, Zoom and basic central management systems like Smartsheet. Large businesses are currently implementing remote access to the company server and setting up new software to hold virtual meetings where staff are reading from the same screen. Additionally, companies are updating contact details outside of email addresses and circulating agendas prior to conference calls for clarity and efficiency.

While all of this is groundbreaking for The Big Four and large enterprises, this way of working isn’t new. Small businesses, like Navig8Biz, have been working as decentralised teams since their inception – for years.

It poses the question, will this way of ‘working wherever’ remain a part of mainstream workplace culture? 

A flexible working environment has been on the cards for the better part of the last decade. With new systems in place, decentralisation has never been easier. And with access to a world of talent, why would businesses want to limit their staff to ONE location?

Small to medium businesses are currently facing an opportunity. Have they written a Continuity of Business Plan? If not, today is the day to start writing.

Times of setback, pose as times of reflection and reassessment, and with that, comes opportunity.

The collective community will need to reimagine the ways in which we live our everyday lives. Consumerism, entertainment and travel will change for the foreseeable future. But what of the long term implications of COVID-19?

Small business has always been more flexible, but corporates, especially, will need to re-evaluate. Getting ready for decentralisation is inevitable. It’s all about Management’s experience, capability and skill. Employee selection is also key – do you have the trust and confidence in your team?

From a wider lens, the most important aspect is the WHY of your business. If you have the right people, and you can effectively communicate your MISSION to your team as well as the subsequent tasks of that mission, and you hold an adequate system in place for follow-up, then any business can work from anywhere.

Are you ready?

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