There is no doubt that our lives have seen unprecedented disruption due to the impact of the Coronavirus. At the start of 2020, we all had plans for our businesses but who, in those plans, predicted the current global impact of Coronavirus (COVID19)?
The answer is no-one to my knowledge. Uncertainty is challenging but the current ways of working have opened our minds to many questions relating to ‘What does returning to normal business mean?’.
Well let me ask you some questions to think about as I believe, that for small businesses, we will see some major changes and a positive shift in many areas. Life after Coronavirus may create a new ‘normal’!
Will You Need An Office?
A vast number of small businesses are continuing to operate from a different location to their normal office. Cloud based technologies have enabled this to happen.
Where small businesses have proved that their employees can successfully operate from their home location, will business owners want to incur fixed costs for rent, rates etc.?
Will businesses think outside the box to encourage social interaction in other ways?
Are we likely to see a rise in ‘garden offices’ or similar?
What will happen to leases? Will small businesses prefer to commit to monthly rental agreements rather than 5 year leases?
How will social distancing measures affect our office environments?
Will staff be anxious around others until a vaccine is proven and reluctant to travel as much?
Will People Need Or Want To Travel?
How many people have missed sitting in traffic jams on their way to work? Or being squashed up against strangers on the underground?
How much of your life is ‘wasted’ in your car or on public transport?
What is the average cost of travel for your employees?
With many people forced into using cloud-based technologies to continue with meetings, training and other live video communications during the current crisis, has this now become the norm rather than the exception? Will your staff actually want to travel day in, day out to the office? Will they want to travel abroad for meetings? Will they start to consider their own carbon footprint?
The reality is that businesses will be driven, to a certain extent, by society. For many business owners, the well-being of their staff is paramount and so ‘out of the box’ solutions will be investigated. From the business perspective, cost control will be paramount in the new era and so the option of using these technologies rather than spending thousands of pounds on travel may be decisive.
So will life after Coronavirus mean less traffic travelling to/from work at the expected peak hours? Will we see health benefits through less pollution? Will we see the environmental benefits outweigh the human benefits?
What Is A Normal Working Day?
Prior to the ‘lock down’, many people’s working day was in the range of 8am to 6pm.
What are your current working hours? Having spoken to many clients, it is clear that for many the rule book has been ripped up.
For how many does the following scenario or similar apply?
You get up early and instead of travelling to the office, you get on with work. The children then wake, and you help entertain them for a period. Your partner takes over the care of the children and you do another concentrated work shift. It is then time for lunch and to once again entertain the children etc. The afternoon starts and the children are excitable and full of energy. You decide that you have a choice of tearing your hair out or addressing this. You address this. Thankfully then it’s time for the video console or TV and so once again, calm is restored, and you are able to focus for a quick couple of hours before it’s time for dinner and the evening duties. At last the children are in bed. No not time for you and your partner to watch a film or chill with a bottle of wine, no it is time to finish off checking those emails. Before you realise it, it’s gone nine o’clock. You and your partner can now relax for a bit and then it’s off to bed. Before you know it, the whole cycle starts again. Weekdays and weekends become a blur.
The point to this is that we have all, with varying degrees of success, found solutions to this way of working in a short amount of time.
What would happen if the situation was the same but now the children were back at school? Would families benefit from more time together as a result of less travelling and a mixing of work hours?
Why should the normal work week be Monday to Friday? Could life after Coronavirus challenge these norms?
Would the way of working potentially support family units in a better way and encourage children away from the TV, video consoles and their phones and into the family unit or outdoors with various activities?
And lastly: Would These Potential New Ways Of Working Expand Our Recruitment Options?
We have all heard about gender inequality and this is definitely not the forum to be discussing the subject.
But … is it not true that if society’s demands mean that working practices have to radically change, then the situation becomes a win-win scenario for both businesses and family units. From a family perspective, children get to see and spend time with both parents equally; from a business perspective, talented individuals will be available for flexible working. Hopefully, this will also go some way to combat some of the challenges around gender inequality,
It’s true none of us have all the answers at the moment but we do have the ability to think outside of the box and apply what we are currently learning to affect our future. It’s time for us, as a business community, to look much deeper, to be innovative, to be creative, to be positive and to support one another.
Let’s get discussions and ideas going between us. We have a chance to work together to shape the future of small business and it’s 2020 rejuvenation. Let’s ensure ‘Life after Coronavirus’ is the life we want!
To find out more about how the government can support your business during these challenging times click here.