Business Continuity & Growth 2020

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one remote working day. So how will busi- nesses respond? Organisational consultant and psychologist John Amaechi believes organisations won't have a choice if they want to survive. "Had the COVID-19 pan- demic lasted a couple of weeks, busi- nesses leaders could have made sweeping changes – remote working, focusing on employee wellbeing, mental health pro- vision – and then reverted back quite eas- ily, but you can't do that after a quarter of a year," he says. "People have reframed their expecta- tions of work. They now expect their leaders to see them as human beings first. A huge number of employees now realise they can eat dinner with their kids or they can spend time with their spouse and still work; that isn't going back." This focus on the employee as an indi- vidual is perhaps the biggest cultural out- come of the pandemic. With video chats interrupted by screaming children, vir- tual meet-ups and a genuine crisis that could affect anybody, businesses have been forced to confront the fact they're made up of real people. Employee wellbeing and mental health support have become as important as profit and productivity. Good examples include Lloyds Bank- ing Group, where 45,000 employees have shifted to remote working, implementing a focus on mental health. The bank has pro- vided employees with 24/7 access to coun- selling, set up an online centre advising col- leagues on how to deal with the pandemic, Empathy and compassion crucial in COVID-19 era The pandemic has forced businesses in every sector to adapt, but those that have maintained a duty of care to employees amid the disruption will be the ones to prosper in the long term he coronavirus pandemic has changed the world of work irrevoca- bly, pushing businesses and employ- ees into uncertain and unstable territory. At the same time as facing unprecedented chal- lenges to their mental and physical health, employees are grappling with new working paradigms, shifting from offices to home working, clock-in culture to flexible hours. Throughout this uncertainty, business leaders have had to navigate their organisa- tions to safety and provide a duty of care to both employees and customers, often under deep scrutiny. Pub chain JD Wetherspoon faced crit- icism from customers in March after fur- loughing 99 per cent of its 43,000 employ- ees, with chairman Tim Martin telling employees to work in supermarkets, despite an annual turnover of £1.8 billion in 2019. Similarly, Liverpool Football Club, which made a pre-tax profit of £42 million in 2019, reversed a decision to furlough non-playing staff after a backlash from supporters. "Businesses are more than ever being judged on how they treat their employees and how they look after them," says Peter Cheese, chief executive of the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development. "What we have all learnt is the impor - tance of understanding people's wellbeing. When people connect on video chat, the first question asked is 'how are you?' It's not a platitude any more, people mean it. Well- being is front and centre, and as we progress through this crisis, anxiety around return- ing to work and mental health challenges will continue." Cheese believes the pandemic will pro- vide a catalyst for real change in how busi- nesses operate and people work. "This crisis has been the biggest home-working experiment in history. Tra- ditionally, our business mindset has been focused on presenteeism and a lack of trust in our people: 'if I can't see them, I don't know they're working'. We're now having to trust our people more and the positives from this are a more agile, responsive work- force," he says. For many employees, a return to pre-lockdown working practices is unthinkable. A survey of 2,000 workers by O2 and YouGov found that nearly half (45 per cent) expected to work more flex- ibly after lockdown is lifted, with a third expecting to work from home three days a week and 81 per cent wanting at least Sarah Drumm Journalist and editor specialising in small business and startups, and former news editor of Courier.magazine. Cath Everett Journalist covering workplace issues, leadership and organisational culture. Karam Filfilan Business journalist specialising in HR and innovation, and former deputy editor of Changeboard. Alec Marsh Author and writer, editor-at-large of Spear's, with bylines in The Guardian, Spectator and New Statesman. Virginia Matthews Business, education and people management journalist, writing for national papers and specialist titles. Jim McClelland Sustainable futurist, speaker and writer, specialising in the built environment, CSR and ecosystem services. offered workshops on yoga, virtual choirs and wellbeing activities, and sent office equipment to help homeworkers settle into a new way of working. The organisation is also helping custom- ers by providing 2,000 free tablets to those aged 70 and over, alongside a dedicated phone line to help less digitally minded cus- tomers bank online. Ongoing communication and trust are vital to ensuring employee wellbeing and customer satisfaction, says Linda Mount- ford, Northern Europe commercial human resources director at Thai Union and John West. "Following the COVID-19 outbreak, our employees had to quickly adapt to remote working, while also dealing with the addi- tional pressures of the grocery supply chain," she says. Weekly leadership calls, daily coffee mornings and regular one on ones have all been implemented, but the manu- facturer has also tried to maintain a work-life balance by discouraging calls between 12pm and 1.30pm and after 5.15pm, and giving all team members a day off every three weeks in additional to holiday entitlements. Thai Union is careful in its use of ter- minology, preferring not to use the phrase "return to work". "We're talking about a 'return to the office', as all our crew are work- ing extremely hard at home. We're planning a phased return, with volunteers first. We're also proactively supporting those who are vulnerable or have vulnerable family mem- bers. Maintaining the great trust we have with employees and being sensitive to their needs is key," says Mountford. For successful businesses, building on the trust, empathy and personal connec- tion they've made with employees during lockdown will be central to managing the transition back to the office. But those lead- ers who expect business to return to the pre-lockdown status quo are in for a shock. They may find that in a squeezed market, consumers remember those who acted unfavourably during the crisis. "The biggest thing during this pandemic has been behavioural integrity; what lead - ers say is very closely related to what they do. This is what counts for people when trust is on the line. Secondly, in times of uncertainty, you have to update people iter- atively. There's no point making one big declaration 16 weeks ago and then nothing. You have to communicate so much that you think it's overkill and even then it's proba- bly not enough," says Amaechi. And for businesses that don't keep it up? "Nothing will change for 18 months, as we're going to be in a recession so people won't leave. But two years from now, Linke- dIn will be aflame with excellent candi- dates ready for the next move and it won't be with the organisation they've just toler- ated for the last year," he warns. Distributed in Publishing manager Reuben Howard Deputy editor Francesca Cassidy Head of production Justyna O'Connell Design Sara Gelfgren Kellie Jerrard Harry Lewis-Irlam Celina Lucey Colm McDermott Samuele Motta Jack Woolrich Managing editor Benjamin Chiou Associate editor Peter Archer Published in association with Thought leadership partner Although this publication is funded through advertising and sponsorship, all editorial is without bias and sponsored features are clearly labelled. For an upcoming schedule, partnership inquiries or feedback, please call +44 (0)20 8616 7400 or e-mail info@raconteur.net. Raconteur is a leading publisher of special-interest content and research. Its pub- lications and articles cover a wide range of topics, including business, finance, sustainability, healthcare, lifestyle and technology. Raconteur special reports are published exclu- sively in The Times and The Sunday Times as well as online at raconteur.net. The information contained in this publication has been obtained from sources the Proprietors believe to be correct. However, no legal liability can be accepted for any errors. No part of this publication may be reproduced with- out the prior consent of the Publisher. © Raconteur Media /business-continuity-aug @raconteur /raconteur.net @raconteur_london BUSINESS CONTINUITY & GROWTH raconteur.net Karam Filfilan T Contributors YouGov/O2 2020 45% of workers expect to work more flexibly after lockdown is lifted 33% expect to work from home three days a week 81% expect at least one remote working day Gallup 2020 LE ADERSHIP CARING DECRE ASES Percentage of full-time employees and managers who agree with the following statements People have reframed their expectations of work. They now expect their leaders to see them as human beings first I N D E P E N D E N T P U B L I C A T I O N B Y 0 2 / 0 8 / 2 0 2 0 # 0 6 8 0 R A C O N T E U R . N E T F O O D F O R W A R D D O N ' T F O R G E T D & I M I S S I O N C O N T R O L After a tumultuous few months, food companies now have opportunities for new growth Diversity and inclusion initiatives should not be disregarded in an economic crisis Why mission statements are more than just a public relations exercise 05 07 12 P E O P L E M A N A G E M E N T Art director Joanna Bird Digital content executive Taryn Brickner Design director Tim Whitlock Mid-May 2020 Mid-June 2020 My immediate supervisor keeps me informed about what is going on in my organisation My organisation cares about my overall wellbeing I feel well prepared to do my job My employer has communicated a clear plan of action in response to the coronavirus 54% 41% 50% 41% 50% 41% 51% 42% Oliver Pickup Journalist, specialising in tech, business and sport, and contributing to a wide range of publications. Josh Sims Journalist and editor, with bylines in Wallpaper, Spectator Life, Robb Report and Esquire. Chris Stokel-Walker Tech and culture journalist and author, with bylines in The New York Times, The Guardian and Wired.

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