What Businesses Have Learned From The Pandemic
At the height of the pandemic, there was a significant amount of fear and concern directed toward a wide range of businesses. Predictions were made, often fast and loose, that there would be unprecedented closures and difficulty. Now, as the economy begins to recover and restrictions lift entirely, business leaders are beginning to realise that, while there were indeed repercussions and damages, companies and teams have demonstrated impressive adaptability that has allowed many to continue and, in certain cases, even thrive.
Perhaps most enlightening has been the discussion regarding remote working that, while heralded by some as an inevitable future, has been closely scrutinised, revealing the costs of such a significant operational transition. While productivity rose, mental health issues as the result of isolation and burnout increased too, leading many to reevaluate their predictions.
People Group Services have been hosting discussions with business leaders since the start of the pandemic, reviving their Learning From Leaders series to facilitate reflection on how the pandemic has and will continue to affect businesses. These conversations have shown not only the amount of work that has taken place to ensure businesses succeed but also the surprising discoveries that have occurred.
A Stronger Direction
Ann Swain, CEO of APSCo, has been cautiously optimistic about the effect of the pandemic, mentioning that “the pandemic has given some businesses, probably most businesses in the market, a little opportunity and the need to step back, analyse what they do, what they do particularly well, what their customers want and are going to want moving forward, and the way they deliver the services.” This has provided a landscape conducive to prompting businesses to figure out exactly “who they want to be.”
With the need to focus solely on the most important aspects of their business, leaders have been able to refine their tasks and output. While this has affected their initial strategies and, in some cases, the size of their operation, it seems likely that their distillation will allow them clearer direction and a greater opportunity to flourish. “I’m not saying the pandemic is a good thing,” Swain adds, “but I think utilising some time to step back and analyse […] we tend to just keep running and don’t spend enough time to look into our business.”
Under the pressure of working with a pandemic, many employee teams have performed exceptionally well. As business leaders place a greater emphasis on employee wellbeing, extending the tools and support necessary for them to feel comfortable, whether that is with flexible hours or remote working opportunities, staff have found themselves more connected to the business.
“We’ve all learned to trust our staff a bit more,” Swain mentions, “‘Whereas in the early days there was a worry of ‘will anyone do any work?’ for most businesses, it has worked and members have staff have gone for it.” This result has dispelled fears that employees will lower their productivity when given the opportunity when, in fact, they will often improve when given the opportunity to manage themselves.