The key to moving forward from this pandemic is to ensure that any lessons learnt regarding improved ways of working, mental and physical health awareness and environmental progress are not lost in a reversion to our old ways, writes Philippa Batting.
By Philippa Batting, Managing Director, Buckinghamshire Business First
Everybody has had their own unique challenges to face over these last few months. For business owners, the challenges with regards to their family situations and their own physical and mental health would have been compounded by their worry and confusion about the future of their business and the security of the jobs they provide.
Despite this, many businesses responded to the virus by supporting key workers, vulnerable people and other businesses in need by pivoting activity to produce essential items such as PPE and parts for ventilator machines, implementing delivery services to ensure everyone had food and other essential items, and offering free or discounted products and services to other businesses. The demand for support has been monumental, but when the call went out, businesses answered. The ability of the business community to immediately spring into action and meet new and urgent needs has been impressive and heart-warming.
Hopefully, we will all get time for reflection and learning, because there have been some real advantages to some of our new ways of working. We all need to learn from our experiences over the last couple of months to build back better.
Think about what you have learned during this time, both about yourself and your business. Have you changed your philosophy as a business owner? Have you realised that you can run a business from home or smaller premises? Will you put more attention on the mental health and wellbeing of yourself and your employees in the shape of mental health first aiders and protocols?
And what of the environment? Plenty of people have rediscovered a love for nature and the outdoors by virtue of having access to it restricted. Nature itself has flourished in many ways, with reductions in work and leisure commutes and manufacturing output shining a light on the environmental impact of day-to-day business operations. The launch of the Race To Zero campaign sees 120 countries commit to reaching net zero by 2050, while at a local level we launched the #NetZeroBucks campaign to inspire local businesses to innovate in pursuit of a net zero Buckinghamshire economy. The environmental benefits seen recently must not be confined to a couple of months, they are not enough on their own to make a decisive impact, so we must learn lessons from this time and apply them from now onwards.
And that is the key to moving forward from this pandemic: not losing sight of the kindness, compassion and support that has encapsulated the response to the virus, and ensuring the focus on mental and physical health, community spirit and environmental protection is not lost in a reversion to our old ways.
As for business operations, consider whether all of those costly daily commutes are still necessary, whether employees working from home some or all of the time could be the new way of working, and whether you still need an office or workplace as large as you currently have.
It may take a while for the new normality of work to become clear, but I am sure we have learnt much since the start of the lockdown that will stand us in good stead to Build Back Better.
Stay informed of the latest business support re: COVID-19
Remember to visit our COVID-19 business support hub for the latest support and information from the government, business support organisations and other avenues of support. Bookmark www.bbf.uk.com/covid-19 so you can easily find it in the future.