SINCE its initial outbreak and the following months of national and local lockdowns, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on local businesses has ranged from severe to catastrophic. 

More than 3,100 confirmed cases have been recorded in Worcestershire alone and as more local and regional UK lockdowns are imposed by the government, a local HR expert is advising businesses on how to plan for a second wave of the virus. 

Michael Doolin, MD of Clover HR, says “At the start of the Covid-19 outbreak, the world was completely unprepared for the pandemic. Overnight, normal working life ceased as businesses had to close, employees were placed on furlough, businesses operated on a skeleton staff and remote working became a new normal.

“A subsequent return to work promoted much change in office layouts, an increase in awareness and support, particularly for mental health and new challenges were presented in the way employees work, communicate, travel, learn or train.

“Following these unprecedented changes to working life, employers need to heed the lessons we have learned and introduce the required structures and processes to ensure they do all they can to operate effectively in the event of a second lockdown.” 

Top lessons learnED

1. Remote working policy – Employers with robust working from home policies that enabled employees to have a degree of flexibility in their schedule have managed better than those that did not. 

2. Health and safety – The pandemic has highlighted how health and safety should be the top priority for all employers with businesses adjusting office layouts, the use of communal areas and travel arrangements to help prevent further spread of the virus. 

3. Digital first – The pandemic has driven the need for business to adapt and embrace new technologies which have replaced the need for many manual or face to face activities 

4. Caring culture– Employers have developed new work cultures that focused on their employees and listened to their concerns and challenges 

5. Continuity planning– Businesses must plan for things going wrong as part of their normal operating processes. The businesses that have plans in place are better equipped to adapt and respond to the changes that occurred overnight. 

6. Communication is key – The pandemic showed employers how communication with their workforce is vital Business leaders learned the value of communicating with remote workers, furloughed employees as well as those still working on-site using new methods and tools. 

7. Knowing your workforce – knowing the lifestyle, personality and circumstances of your workforce enables you to communicate with employees more effectively, keeping them motivated whilst offering any support they need.

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