Its been a turbulent time so far this year for most businesses, and the latest Coronavirus pandemic has changed so much around the work environment that we are now talking about ‘the new normal’’ an environment created to slow down and reduce the transmission of this virus …… accepting change is going to be a necessity.
Normally, change is something that people are resistant to, especially if it is sudden and unwanted, but the sudden imposition and then lifting of restrictions by governments worldwide means we are all having to become more adaptable daily.
Working within the ‘new normal’ is something that all business will have to plan for; not only to encourage their workforces/ customers back by showing it is safe, but also to ensure their financial survival.
Some key considerations for most businesses regardless of industry are – making sure the workplace is safe for all and, rethinking the way their people interact.
Remote/ flexible working has been the norm for most of the staff in Payara since the company’s formation, so working from home in lockdown conditions has had little impact on business activity. However, Payaran wellbeing is a key component of Payaran culture so our Internal Engagement Coordinator created various initiatives to help people stay connected – an out of work time social platform called Operation Night fish, an in work time chat channel called Cabin Fever and Mental health and Wellbeing training.
How is it going to work?
The time has come to start thinking about adjusting the business to the ‘new normal’ – this means re thinking both the physical changes eg office layout configuration, and also the cultural changes – eg remote performance management.
Working within the new restrictions around duty of care (2 m social distancing, cleaning regulations, hand washing and use of communal areas) is however going to be challenging and will take time, effort, communication, and compliance to work successfully. We aim to plan a phased transition back to the workplace but before that, there is work to do. We will need to alter the layout of the workstations, reduce office traffic flow, make all meetings virtual, reduce the use of communal areas and select some roles to become flex and / or remote working. Our largest challenge is to maintain a ‘training hub’ for the people at the start of their careers or new to their roles – newbies – who are an important part of our growth strategies. We need to ensure that they absorb Payaran culture, receive L&D in appropriate ways and are supervised by experienced mentors
For those who will be asked to work flexibly / remotely, we need to consider their mental health, ensuring they do not feel isolated or get excluded as they are physically not present.
Our aim is to have a mix of permanent workstations for newbies and open desks for those working flexibility to be able to visit on a rota basis as restrictions lift further.
We will need to carry out a risk assessment to ensure social distancing is maintained, consider the need for PPE, work with others around the use of communal areas, ensure cleaning and sanitization are carried out regularly and keep up to date with Government guidance. Outside the workspace we will need to consider – visitors, deliveries, use of public transport etc.
After the physical and process changes, there will be time needed to address cultural changes within the business. Staff need to feel safe and respect new boundaries in place, managers need to learn to manage their teams around performance to deliverables and deadlines – poor performance being acted on quickly, ideas around flexible working will need to be discussed in terms of necessity rather than being seen as a benefit, many other benefits for employees will need to be considered, our current remote working culture will need to be boosted in order to ensure Payarans feel included and part of a great working culture rather than excluded. The key to a successful adaption to the ‘new normal’ will be engaging with our staff and building strong relationships. By communicating, listening and offering positive actions the HR team will be the glue that holds us all together in this brave, challenging new world.