Embracing creativity and innovation in the ‘new normal’

Embracing innovation in Covid-19

One thing is certain, and that is that the COVID-19 pandemic has shone an uncomfortable spotlight on how challenging it can be for businesses of every size, and across every industry, to continue with business during times of crisis.

So much has happened over the last three months since we’ve been put in lockdown. No one knew what to expect. At first everyone moved to home offices, but soon realised it is much bigger than that. It has exposed how important ensuring continuity of business operations really is.

It is therefore imperative that businesses future-proof themselves, to ensure they are able to perform mission-critical work under a wide range of circumstances. It is about preparing your business for this, and other catastrophes.

Comparing cloud payroll users, versus legacy hosted users, very few companies have truly merged to proper digital operations. COVID-19 has been a wake-up call for many businesses, in the payroll world, everything has to continue. HR departments had very little policies in place that spoke to how remote employees would work, how to measure productivity, how leave policies would work, or how remote working would be managed.

Governments and health officials were doing their best to contain the spread of the virus, as well as mitigate its impact. While organisations across the globe found themselves in various stages of preparedness, from scrambling to react, to semi-prepared, to proactively carrying on with business as usual.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 has shown many businesses how woefully unprepared they were to deal with such an unprecedented and global crisis. Now that we’re in the throes of the crisis, we are seeing that the companies who were prepared, agile and had digitised their offices, and are able to assure their staff of a brighter future.

These are the organisations who are adaptable and who have broadened their employees’ skill sets. Organisations who have been able to carry on as usual and move staff around to where they are needed within the business. This is the new way of working, and forward-thinking companies are viewing this as an opportunity.

The companies who were less prepared, are now asking how to remain relevant, and up-skill employees to enable them to be moved to different roles. The unprepared are now faced with thinking about how to re-skill from scratch. These days it isn’t feasible to only use employees for a single task. Ensure they have a broader view, a wider set of skills, and more knowledge and apply their skill sets across the organisation.

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for a truly agile workforce, and it has to be prioritised now. Businesses have to make sure they can deploy the right skills in different areas when times are tough, and this is true of every industry. Maintaining momentum has become critical, and key to business survival.

So, how will HR look after COVID-19? The pandemic has challenged us, and pushed us to be more creative. There’s no more business as usual. The only way to survive is to be more agile, adopt fluid teams, encourage broader skill sets, and have a very adaptable mindset. We have also seen cases where productivity went up, as people traveled less and increased working hours – a phenomenal thing to see.

No-one was really ‘ready’ for this, but we have seen a lot of businesses transforming. For example, distillers which were once making craft gin or vodka, are now making hand sanitiser. Fashion labels are now making masks and other protective wear for essential service workers. When pushed out of a comfort zone, people will be more innovative.

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