There has been a society-wide transition to working from home amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Many businesses have had to change their model altogether as the government recommends the avoidance of all but necessary contact with others. Others are now struggling to stay in business.
Our new regular feature the ‘Coronavirus ideas exchange’ is giving businesses in all sectors an opportunity to chronicle the move to working from home – and offer tips on how to limit its impact or even harness new opportunities.
What has been the biggest change for you and your business?
Katie Peate, strategy director at tech-focused business growth and leadership consultancy Form: “Thankfully we’re adept at running our services online, but we also run a tremendous amount of experiential workshops and study trips that bring groups of leaders together physically. We’ve had to adapt our delivery methods to continue to add the same level of value to our clients without the face-to-face contact. Our focus is on supporting leaders to think clearly about what they need to do to remain sustainable for the next 12 months. We’re releasing a series of free videos and resources to help the sector survive, stabilise and sustain during this difficult season.”
Jacob Bray, business development, law firm Addleshaw Goddard: “The very quick shift from businesses thinking about future aspirations to being worried about surviving the next three months. The impact on M&A and investment has been significant.”
Mark Flanagan, CEO of Shield Safety Group, which provides food hygiene and general safety services to the hospitality industry: “After being industry-leading and award-winning, a fixture on the Manchester tech scene, the destruction of the hospitality sector has hit us badly.”
Describe a challenge you have faced – and how you overcame it
Peate: “We deliver group workshops with clients every week, either at their offices or in offsite locations. We’ve delivered these via a mixture of webinar and Zoom instead.”
Bray: “The change in investment appetite. The focus has had to shift to being supportive clients on how we help them navigate the now rather than discussing the future.”
Flanagan: “We are constantly trying to work out new ways to support the hospitality industry in Manchester through COVID, and how we ourselves as a business can survive through the lack of government support. Our offices are based in the Northern Quarter, and if we don’t protect those independent businesses, it will look very different after COVID. The challenge we face is coronavirus, how to overcome it will mean working together as an industry and a city.”
What key tips do you have for others?
Peate: “As a leader you need to provide clarity. Agreeing the rules of engagement with your team is vital. If you’re not used to remote working, agree the rhythms and routines to ensure everyone is kept in the loop and operations remain strong. It’s not as simple as agreeing your preferred video call software. If team members don’t feel connected it can lead to isolated thinking, especially at a time that’s causing so much anxiety. So book in daily or weekly touchpoints as necessary.”
Bray: “Try to maintain the same schedule during the working week as you would if you were in the office. Set up a space to be the designated working area, if you don’t have a home office. Accept this will feel a bit weird, embrace it and it will start to feel more normal after a few days.”
Flanagan: “Utilising the power of tech and the power of community to support our clients in any way that we can, whilst also trying to keep afloat. We have been looking into digitising food hygiene to save money for councils – that may have just become a lifeline for us.”