The Government outlined its roadmap for its cautious but irreversible easing of lockdown on the 22nd February.
In the Budget the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced a number of measures aimed at supporting businesses, including the self-employed, over the coming months as we start our journey to the long-awaited re-opening of many businesses. All of which, it is hoped, will see an upturn in the economy, perhaps one which is though heavily reliant on pent up demand and a surge in consumer spending.
The end of Lockdown 3 seems to be in sight, especially with the vaccination programme gaining such pace hopefully with there not being a sequel, Lockdown 4! For those in business though the year of the pandemic has taken its toll, with even the most resilient feeling perhaps a little ‘battle weary’, even fatigued. Whilst some businesses, perhaps few and far between, may have traded through unscathed, most will be looking at some return to normal or to adapt to the new norm.
Therein lies the challenge. Existing in the here and now may have seen us through but coming out the other side invariably will require a plan and some course of action. Perhaps a ‘roadmap’ for business is needed.
The fear is though that many don’t have a roadmap in terms of a destination or sense of journey for their business, and perhaps even an understanding as to what is need to take them on that journey. The start must be then working out perhaps whether the destination is the same as it was before the pandemic. Who knows it may be the case that the choice of destination is not the same for all and that there is a need to gain a collective position and buy in of the same.
It then follows on that you will have to consider how you are going to get there. Whilst in terms of travel the choice of transport and its appropriateness needs to be considered, so too then does the model or choice of ‘vehicle’ for your business. Many, if not all, businesses have experienced varying degrees of change as to the how, where, when and who is involved in delivering and making business happen. Adversity and the need to respond to the situation has been instrumental in driving organisational change, this is likely to affect or impact on the roles in businesses for years to come. In particular there has been an increase in vacancies for Chief Technical Officers, software developers, marketeers with digital skills and Directors and Non-Executive Directors who can bring fresh, imaginative commercial ideas, along with good governance to the Board.
In looking at whatever model or structure of your business is fit for the new order, consideration has to be given to the need for everything from a refresh to an overhaul, whether it’s the need for investment in process, practices or people all will need some thought. When it comes to people, many business leaders have highlighted concerns about the wellbeing and mental health of their staff during the pandemic, especially those furloughed but as importantly those who have worked through. Just like our school children returning to school, consideration needs to be given to the impact of the lockdown on retention of skills as well as the challenges of returning to the work place.
No doubt the road to recovery will be a bumpy one with challenges along the way. It is therefore vital that businesses prepare for this, looking at how it might not only manage but perhaps predict such challenges. Few, if any, would have had a pandemic on their organisational risk register, that is even if they had one pre-March 2020. The need also to build resilience and perhaps compassion will be essential as part of a smooth direction of travel.
It is difficult to say and it would be naive to try and guess when we might start to feel upbeat in broad business terms. It will though be important for all stakeholders in our businesses to have a sense of achievement and fulfilment along the journey to recovery. A meaningful response to the ‘are we nearly there yet?’ even before we have left the drive might be a bit much to address, but some form of recognition as to progress along the route map is bound to benefit all. On arriving at your destination don’t forget to share in the sense of arrival and success too.