• 27 May 2024, 07:29 AM

Tag Archives: working from home

Navigating the Post-COVID Workplace: Resurgence, Downsizing, and the Importance of Unity

As organisations worldwide navigate the complexities of the post-COVID era, the workplace is undergoing a profound transformation. While there is a resurgence in workplace recovery initiatives, fuelled by a renewed emphasis on employee well-being and flexibility, some companies are downsizing due to the widespread adoption of remote and hybrid work models. Simultaneously, there is a heightened recognition of the importance of a cohesive team presence, particularly in emergency scenarios.

The Impact of Remote Work and Downsizing:

  1. Downsizing in the Wake of Remote Work:
    • The widespread success of remote work during the pandemic has led some organisations to reevaluate their physical office spaces. In a bid to cut costs and adapt to evolving work preferences, companies are downsizing office footprints, embracing fully remote models, or adopting hybrid work arrangements.
  2. Shifts in Company Culture:
    • The shift to remote and hybrid work has necessitated a reevaluation of company culture. Organisations are exploring innovative ways to foster a sense of belonging and collaboration among team members who may be physically dispersed.
  3. Challenges of Downsizing:
    • While downsizing may bring financial benefits, it also poses challenges such as maintaining team cohesion, preserving corporate culture, and ensuring effective communication in virtual environments.

The Role of Physical Presence in Emergency Scenarios:

  1. Emergency Preparedness and Unity:
    • One of the lessons learned from the pandemic is the importance of team unity in emergency scenarios. While remote work has proven its viability, certain situations may require a collective, on-site response. Organisations are recognising the need to strike a balance between remote flexibility and the importance of having a team physically present when urgent situations arise.
  2. Hybrid Models for Emergency Response:
    • Some companies are adopting hybrid models that combine remote flexibility with periodic in-person gatherings to enhance team cohesion. This approach ensures that teams are well-prepared to respond effectively to emergencies, leveraging the benefits of both remote and in-person collaboration.

Conclusion:

The post-COVID workplace landscape is complex, with organisations simultaneously embracing remote work, downsizing physical office spaces, and recognising the importance of a united team presence in emergency scenarios. Striking the right balance between flexibility and cohesion is key to navigating these challenges successfully. As workplace recovery initiatives evolve, companies must remain agile, adapting their strategies to the dynamic needs of the workforce and the demands of an ever-changing business environment.

Covid-19 – Home Working v Workplace Recovery

The covid-19 pandemic was/is not a ‘normal’ disaster; a normal disaster generally affects a single company whereby it is left unable to trade (normally) and amongst other things, faces loss to its competitors.   Covid-19 affected the majority of businesses and thus competitors were also closed or subject to equally disruptive service offerings. There was hence no benefit to look for alternatives – none were available.

Home working whilst popular is beginning to show its foibles.  De-centralised working in terms of technology alone is hugely problematic and requires significant and continued investment and management;  The social aspect is the subject matter of many professional scholars with numerous articles circulating; Those relating to BC focus on the cost comparison of the increased HR + IT requirement against  that of an out-sourced BC contract;  a quote taken from a recent media posting provides a view:  “Each home has its differences, each person has their differences. Combine the two and multiply by the additional tasks needed per ‘home-working-employee’ and there you have an immense management requirement which continues almost infinitum. Each house move, each home improvement, each new employee, necessitates some employer involvement.  Even in times of economic calm, the involvement is likely to cause constant grief for the employer, throw in an unforeseen event, when it is critical that differences make no difference, and the potential for business damaging mayhem is all too apparent”

Other studies have focused on well-being and in particular mental health issues brought about by isolation which is widely publicised as being on the increase.  Managing such issues in a centralised office is demanding enough but doing so on a widespread campus of decentralised home workers is fraught with complexities for which the employer is responsible and liable. Again, the problems of management become magnified when dealing with a company-wide crisis brought about by an unforeseen event.

Lockdown closed/disrupted 99% of businesses.  Everyone became frustratingly patient – but this was because they had no choice;  In a ‘normal’ crisis – where only one or a few businesses are affected – the ‘frustratingly patient’ person no longer remains ‘as patient’ – why? Because there is choice; The businesses that are closed, risk losing business to those that are open.  This is evident when seeking to buy something as simple as a sandwich; if your normal sandwich shop is closed, you’ll go elsewhere – you won’t wait.

In a ‘normal’ crisis the first few days, leading up to the first few weeks are critical.  Decentralise people with decentralised systems and there lays a good recipe for disaster. Essentially decentralising anything creates additional tasks; and no matter how much automation or planning is engaged, it is extremely unlikely the overall tasks will ever be less or even close to those of a centralised version or error free.  Keeping tasks to a minimum (and simple) in a crisis is paramount to success. Ideally the task is singular – invoke contract and carry on with business (as normal).   Centralising as much as possible is absolutely key to a smooth transition from normal-to-crisis-to-normal.

DSM’s view:  Home working is an essential BC tool – it’s one spanner of a set – however, it isn’t a spanner that fits all. Try to make it fit all and serious damage may result.

Please note: All DSM’s positions are in-line with current UK government & WHO guidelines on Social Distancing.

Reality remains in the office

Working from home – the new normal or the new risk?

So, working from home is the new normal – right? We’ll never go to the office again – really?  The kitchen worktop or the chest of drawers in the spare bedroom makes for a great office – yes?  The kids screaming– isn’t an issue, the cat/dog pawing at your leg doesn’t intrude on your train of thought or interrupt the flow of the important client meeting on Zoom or Teams?  All is sweet then – carry on!

If you’re fortunate to have an office at home you may be spared some of these intrusions….  but note….. it’s an ‘office’.  For most, the home ‘office’ is a ‘make do’.  ‘Make do’s are either a pain or a novelty that eventually become a pain.  ‘Make do’ spaces are often a borrowed resource with such borrowing sometimes lasting only minutes.

The current crisis is sure to bring about some changes but, is going to the ‘real’ office a thing of the past?  For many reasons, we think it unlikely – although for sure, on the back of the novelty factor, the ‘we-can-work-from-home’ brigade , which range from those counting the pennies (believing it will save a fortune) to those with imaginations of a paradise, will strive to prove it is the new normal.

So why do we think the ‘real’ office is still here for a while longer……

Well for one, the majority of businesses are technically not ready.  Cyber criminals, though, are very ready!  The ‘real office’ may be well firewalled but, the likelihood of this extending to the home office, is small.  Wrapped within pages of GDPR legislation, businesses have many legal obligations for securing  data – especially that which is personal.  Aside the possibility of all company data being encrypted and ransoms demanded, those that flout the regulations can be heavily fined and Directors held accountable.    Home working – is it the new normal or is it the new  risk – a very big risk!