How to manage risks in a small business?January 17, 2022
How to deliver excellent customer services on a low budget?February 28, 2022
Empowering changeA lot has changed over the last two years more than could have been imagined following the first appearance of the virus. What was initially seen as a short-term issue quickly spiralled into a long-term global pandemic paralyzing economies and holding businesses in a state of shock.
Together small and large companies alike walked the rocky road through uncertainty, lockdowns, and general panic in a quest to keep operations moving. Change was constant with every twist and turn felt by leaders concerned about staff performance as they worked remotely leaving employees worried about job security.
Workarounds were implemented with business owners desperate to survive. The period felt almost mystical a strange like experience one which couldn't be believed or predicted. But slowly over the next two years amongst the chaos the situation began to stabilise settling into what has become different forms of the new normal.
2020 firefighting an uncontrollable disasterIn 2020 the first lockdown introduced the method of home working for millions of office-based workers. However, unlike experienced remote workers large, scaled companies appeared ill equipped. A lack of digital capabilities causing the most pain.
Even the simplest of office procedures were thrown into turmoil. Questions as to whether workers should use personal computers made privacy and security a nightmare for IT departments fighting against an increase in cyber breaches. Issues relating to trust and performance became a hot topic as managers lost temporary control over their subordinates. Employees expressed their dismay feeling pressurised to work longer hours to prove productivity.
Overall, it was a huge transition for corporates whose workplace structure was governed by traditional formats with fixed workstations in one physical location. They were forced to implement digital methodologies to enable workers with access to cloud-based systems, files, and video conferencing to perform daily functions away from the corporate office.
Small businesses faired better especially those with fewer employers as they concentrated on operational matters and financial troubles instead of focusing on managing a remote workforce. Energy was ploughed into transforming the business to meet the expanding needs of products and services in a pandemic riddled economy.
As the months progressed the above measures were addressed, initiating short-term solutions, a plaster over a temporary problem with expected outcomes of a quick return to full normality.
2021 hope for a new normalThe bleak end to 2020 saw Christmas plans cut short presenting a gloomy shadow over the New Year, a sobering hangover from a not so jolly time. By the start of 2021 the realisation that the pandemic was not going away was held steadfast in our minds with the enforcement of another lockdown. However, a glimmer of hope appeared as morale heightened by the vaccination programme offering a plan of action with each of us waiting patiently for our turn.
Corporate employees continued working from home this time with greater success adjusting to a new way of working with some calling for this to become the norm even after they were freed from restrictions. Gone were those first felt nerves and instead doors of opportunity were opened as companies contemplated implementing remote and hybrid working as long-term solutions.
Smaller business owners who had suffered and survived during 2020 were finding their feet and thriving by the introduction of digital capabilities. Ones which propelled their company and paved a new way to secure market share and outshine the competition. An introduction to working smarter, something which was only made possible due to the circumstances.
However, as the year continued home workers started to feel trapped as debaters questioned whether it was best practise to have staff dispersed across the country. Concerns were raised regarding a lack of collaboration and social interaction as the two main contributors to rising mental health issues. And as another surge of cases was attributed to the new Omnicom variant everyone became fed up wishing for the pandemic to be over so they could return to the comfort of the office.
2022 the problem turns into a solutionSo, what can we expect to see in 2022? It's now abundantly clear that the virus will remain in our midst for years to come and to proceed there must be an element of learning to live with it. Therefore, as we enter another new normal it is now time to shift away from the problem and into the solution having learnt valuable lessons from experience gained by constant upheaval.
From a corporate perspective, executives need to examine office procedures taking a more modern approach by continuing to enhance digital capabilities. Employees who had a taste of home working must decide how and where they prefer to work, a decision which may mean changing jobs to meet their growing requirements.
Small business owners need to maintain momentum keeping on the right path to safeguarding their operations by utilising digital technology transforming their operations into a well-oiled machine.
Future solutions need to be addressed formalising hybrid working, a convenient approach to combining both physical and remote working which has been trialled over the past 12 months. Already proven to be a successful way to manage short term operations it will likely be extended along with the use of cheaper, flexible office space to enable teams to work together on scalable rental terms. Plus, the definition of a remote workforce needs to be clarified, viewed not as home working, but the ability to work from anywhere at any time.
ConclusionThe last two years have been turbulent raising the alarm that without digital capabilities businesses stand little or no chance of surviving. What’s clearly understood is that though the pandemic has taken an emotional and financial toll it has shined a light on holes in office procedures ultimately challenging traditional outdated processes.
Business practices need to be updated continuing to evolve beyond the remits of sending employers to work in their homes. Whilst this has been a convenient short-term solution it is not a substitute for full time professional office space. Options need to be found such as utilising serviced offices a great way for businesses regardless of size and budget to find a suitable place to set up home. All the above needs to be recognised with executives and small business owners looking beyond, taking a leap into the future trying never to be caught out again.