It is difficult to think of the challenges now faced across the world as anything other than unprecedented. Businesses have never had to deal with the level of disruption delivered by the Covid-19 pandemic.  Working life for a large part of the workforce has radically changed.  It has become quite apparent that whilst there has without a doubt been a vast improvement in the level of safety from infection, we are by no means through this complicated situation.  Business organisations from the international conglomerate to the small start-up are required to be resourceful, agile and tenacious in order to survive the current crisis in good shape.

Working from home has been the biggest single change.  The Office for National Statistics (ONS) latest figures state that across the board 37 per cent of workers did some work from home in 2020, a rise of ten per cent compared with 2019.  Many businesses see the potential to reduce the costs related to office space at the same time as a large proportion of employees who are working from home feel that they have a better work/life balance.  The ONS reports that 85 per cent of those workers currently working from home hope that a "hybrid" or flexible approach is accepted by their employers, where a mixture of home and office working is developed in future.  Data from the Business Insights and Conditions Survey (BICS) showed that 24 per cent of businesses recognised that they were able to trade successfully with a homeworking workforce and plan to adopt a permanent homeworking model.

Daniel Theron, a partner, commented "it is highly likely that crisis planning will feature in the majority of businesses in future, as the speed and the scale with which the pandemic took hold, was far greater than anyone could have anticipated" he further commented "employers also have a duty of care towards their employees with regard to their mental and physical health and for some, returning to the workplace could be a source of anxiety."

Both businesses and their employees have faced rapid changes involving hasty decisions with very little respite. In order to be able to go forward and survive the difficulties the pandemic has delivered a "people first" culture should be encouraged.  Employees will not focus on the tasks in hand if they do not feel safe in or travelling to the workplace.  A comprehensive analysis of the capacity of employees' ability to perform both everyday and critical functions when working remotely demonstrates to the workers that they are being properly considered. As well as developing short and long term plans with regard to how the business will be able to service its customers in a future where nothing is certain.

Organisations must develop the capacity to master change in general, starting with being receptive and open to change, recognising the risks and offering staff appropriate and timely support where necessary.  The businesses that will still be standing will be those that communicate with their employees and their customers and foster a culture of care.

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