Out of control

Douglas Adams may have been onto something when he wrote in reference to planet earth: Don’t panic. It seems it is human nature that the minute things are out of our control, that’s exactly what we do. Panic. The current workforce has never experienced anything like the corona virus global pandemic. Where there are so many unknowns, so little control over anything and community resources are being stretched to the limits. We are not used to being told what we can and can’t do, of having our independence taken away, and most of all not having the convenience of being able to pop out to the shops or see a movie when we need or want to.

Daily life as we know it has come to a halt requiring people, businesses and organisations to completely rethink how to do things. It can’t be business as usual, yet there still has to be some effort to keep the economy going. More importantly, there’s a critical need to create community support structures.

Some people will be more vulnerable to the disease, some people will have fewer resources, some people may be crippled by fear, wondering if they will get a pay cheque or if they’ll even have a job to go back to when all of this is over. Business owners have a challenging time ahead trying to retain some form of revenue generation while everything is shutting down and people are going into isolation.

Yes it’s an incredibly stressful time for all, but it’s also a unique opportunity for business owners to do things that will have a real and lasting impact on their employees’ lives –supporting and encouraging them so that instead of being crippled by fear they can start to adapt and look for the positives that may come from the situation.

In this modern world there is such a strong focus on the economics of the workplace that sometimes the human element is forgotten. It’s one of the reason that statistics on anxiety and depression are so high in our cities. Now with corona virus it’s an ideal opportunity to highlight a value that humans bring to organisations and to one another. Italy is one such example. Where in the midst of the crisis people are standing out on their balconies and singing and playing musical instruments together. It’s a small thing, and for some it may seem insignificant, yet it’s playing a huge part in community support.   

Businesses can do something similar.

There’s much evidence that when businesses focus on the value they can give to people – both employees and customers it can become a company’s greatest asset, creating a level of loyalty that can give them a distinct competitive advantage in the marketplace. So how does this translate in the current unprecedented times of isolation and remote working?

We’re fortunate that technology can keep us connected when we can’t meet in person. For office staff working from home, it’s possible to conduct team meetings online, check in with staff to find out how they’re doing and be able to provide organizational support for projects they may be involved in. If staff spend their days in front of a computer, there’s no reason they can’t continue with the work they’re doing. Collaboration can take place online using one of many secure information sharing platforms.

For those involved in more physical operational roles, it’s going to be a little more challenging. As a start it’s a tough management decision to require people to work especially if it is going to put them at risk. Thorough training on all the necessary precautions needs to be implemented. Full safety gear and adequate hygiene products will need to be supplied and constant communication and monitoring of their well-being. 

Ultimately it comes down to taking to consideration the people behind the job and equipping them with everything they need physically and then supporting them on a community level. It’s not that hard when we start to look beyond ourselves. Often the solutions to what seems like a giant problem are the simplest.