By Allan Briggs
Photographer: Victor J. Blue/Getty Images North America
There’s no denying that we are now living through a crisis not seen before in most people's lifetimes – not just in terms of public health but in terms of an economic recession, which according to the IMF is predicted to be far worse than the 2008 global financial crisis.
With travel, hospitality, retail, events and entertainment sectors almost totally shut down, the unemployment rate in the United Kingdom predicted to skyrocket to almost 10%, with over 70% of private forms deciding to furlough their staff.
With the number of new cases stabilising and in an effort to avoid any further catastrophic damage to the economy, some countries have started to tentatively move to the ‘containment’ stage of the pandemic by reopening some businesses, shops and schools in phases, whilst continue to monitor for any new outbreaks.
So how should a business be potentially transitioning back to this ‘new world’ (rather than the ‘new normal’, as it was previously called)?
We believe one of the biggest challenges will be mental health, for a raft of reasons:
Increased fear, anxiety and uncertainty about the future.
Excessive levels of alcohol and/or other unhealthy coping techniques whilst in isolation.
Rising stress levels due to work and home-schooling demands.
Loneliness and increased depression.
Increased screen time and wasted time on social media.
Challenges in relationships and increased conflict.
More negativity in the media.
Sally Cumming, a Certified Mindfulness Practitioner and Director of Engage Health, advises that, “it is important to provide employees with psychological resilience training that supports their mental health and emotional wellbeing. With rising levels of stress, anxiety, fear and mental health concerns, it is important to ensure employees have the appropriate resources and tools to cope and ‘decompress’.
Our programs teach participants neuroscience-based practices that alter the structure and function of the brain. Research shows it only take 8 weeks for the process of neuroplasticity to occur. We are passionate about ensuring managers and employees can self-regulate, process difficulties and remain calm and resilient through this period of change and uncertainty.”
As we start to stagger out of the physical, mental and economical hole of COVID-19, we can actually enter into opportunities that were previously never thought possible. Never before have staff, unions, employers and the community been more adaptable and open to new ways of doing business.
More flexible working arrangements will give people a chance to spend more time with their families and loved ones. Online learning courses will give a greater scope of people who were previously locked out (due to disability or limited physical resources) a chance to further their studies and career opportunities. More focus and energy will be dedicated to medical and health industries, which will help fund more resources to research and development. Even the planet has had a short chance to start repairing from all the damage we have caused.
So, here is a start to what we believe you need to prepare for to get you started:
Stay updated on current verified information as you settle back into work life; we have flattened the curve for now, but there is great likelihood of a second wave of COVID-19.
Ensure staff have appropriate PPE, face masks, gloves, sanitiser etc. if needed (this is also a good idea for people who may still have concerns and would like to have additional personal protection).
Allow remote working where possible (we are going to see a big shift in flexible work arrangements).
Consider implementing temperature checks for employees still coming to the office (the business should purchase sufficient non-contact electronic sensing units thermometers for screening in case the employee does not have access to one).
Clean and sterilise regularly.
Try and stagger staff travel on public transport (provide onsite staff parking if possible or rotation in office).
Encourage cashless transactions.
Develop new ways for customers to interact with you, online or remote.
Sensibly manage social distancing.
Shift rotation with sterilising between shifts.
Shifts start and end off-peak to limit interaction with peak commuter traffic.
Separate office staff from production/operation staff.
Have air-conditioning set using external air intake to reduce recycling internal air.
Arrange for staff who may be vulnerable to the virus (older people or people who have pre-existing conditions) to work remotely.
Confidential internal alert/notification process so staff can bring any concern/confirmed case to your attention first.
Screens where staff have regular face-to-face interaction with external people (shop counter etc).
Limit the number of people in a vehicle (seek government guidelines on this).
Any domestic or international travel is to be reviewed and approved by the Business Continuity Management Team.
Develop a Business Continuity Plan (this should be in place already – call us if not).
There is no doubt that some industries will be almost eliminated – some will come out battered and others will thrive. No matter what industry, we will all be impacted by COVID-19.
But out of the adversity, we can also seek opportunity.
Crisis Shield is here to assist you in coming out of the other side of COVID-19; stronger, more robust and ready to prosper in the new world.
Call me on +61 417 160 120 or email email@example.com for a chat on how we can help prepare and protect your business to survive for better times ahead.