As the COVID-19 pandemic rumbles on, there are signs that some UK businesses will be able to restart something like business as usual in the coming months. However getting that process right won’t be easy: after all, no-one’s been through this type of crisis before. There are numerous aspects to consider when aiming to reignite your business 

  1. What does the business look like post-COVID-19? 
  1. What changes does the business need to make for continuity planning? 
  1. How will the business respond to an economic downturn? 
  1. Is the business ready and able to be an agile and mostly virtual workplace? 
  1. How will the business embrace change in terms of the performance of work? 
  1. Does the business have a response plan for a possible second wave of COVID-19 or another pandemic? 

Perhaps the most immediate issue will be how to get your teams working effectively again. The government has aimed to support smaller businesses during the crisis but that support will soon end. So given that the Job Retention Scheme (JRS) ends in October, how can you manage a workforce that will likely still need to be flexible and responsive to business restructures, work shortages, and need for greater efficiencies? 

So, you might want to consider the following actions to restarting effective team working: 

  • The government has announced the furlough support scheme will wind up in October, so you will need to review staff pay and staff headcount.  You may need to implement a redundancy programme and reduce headcount to be able to keep trading.  There is a range of helpful tools out there for businesses concerned 
  • Or it may be possible to retain more staff by implementing differential pay cuts throughout the business (perhaps among senior members too). Whatever action you decide on, ensure you are well versed in best practice procedures for major redundancy or pay cut programmes (consult ACAS website, or work with us to ensure the spirit and the rules are followed and staff engaged appropriately and at the right time). 
  • Redundancy is the last thing anyone wants, so utilise furlough where possible. 
  • Mobilise the team – share the revised strategy with them and make sure everyone is really clear on what they are doing to drive towards that strategy. Alleviate any concerns the team may have make sure they are comfortable with kids in the background, has the tools to work, etc. This needs to be a focus of management in ensuring a high performing team continues to deliver. 
  • Consider the emotional impact of lockdown: three months away from the business (and each other) will affect people differently. For some, anxiety will be high, so try to address and alleviate fears; others may feel desperate to return to normal and impatient with continued restrictions so they will need to come on board with new rules and regulations – with no exceptions.  
  • Get up to speed on the legal risks around employees seeking greater flexibility, including as carers and those who are at heightened risk of serious infection from COVID-19. How you make decisions about employee flexibility and the reasons that underpin these decisions may result in potential discrimination and adverse action claims, as well as possible breaches of the Fair Work Act, awards and enterprise agreements. So get expert help. 

Next week: getting the tech right