The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the thought leader as an individual, and are not attributed to CeFPro or any particular organization.
By Gary Savill, Head of Enterprise Risk, SAGA
In your opinion what are some of the biggest risks that have arisen from home working?
- Not seeing this as a strategic opportunity – Many firms have substantially changed their operating model to accommodate the ability to operate whilst in lockdown, often at greater cost and disruption to their business and their customers. During this transition phase, a lot of organisations saw the lockdown as a short-term event that would quickly pass, and everything would return to normal. Therefore their response to lockdowns were tactical rather than strategic and the models they adopted were not sustainable, such as how they set up their call centre operations, IT solutions and home working arrangements. Subsequent lockdowns resulted in further tactical responses and, as each lockdown occurred, an increasing reluctance to change tact and make more permanent changes given each lockdown carried the promise of it being the last.
- This leaves those firms in a difficult situation as they have lost competitive advantage in their home work model and therefore are more likely to have to return many of its colleagues to offices and fail to make the savings in bricks and mortar and with a more limited geography from which it can source future talent.
- Not getting the People strategy right – Lockdown has placed tremendous strain on colleagues as the initial fun of being able to work from home quickly wore off. Multiple lockdowns left employees facing long periods of enforced isolation from contact with other work colleagues, friends and family and the provision of non-essential health care was either stopped or resulted in longer and more laborious protocols to access the care required. Many people had the challenge of inadequate workstation set up, sometimes having to share space with other family members equally trying to work from home with the added challenge of children of attending school. This placed unprecedented strain on mental and physical wellbeing with the truer impact of this only just starting to be realized. Increased absenteeism, colleague turnover and loss of productivity are all challenges firms are facing in to, with many recruitment sectors seeing a buoyant period making it even more challenging for firms to retain their top talent, who may feel that they have trodden water for too long and need to step up their career plans. Investment in mental health awareness, champions, support mechanisms combined with getting the virtual offices improved not only helps to reduce sickness absence, but also improves productivity and engagement during a time when engagement might otherwise start to suffer.
- Failure to accelerate investment in technology – Linked to an earlier point, many forms had to respond to lockdown as an emergency business continuity matter. Therefore it was a case of getting critical services operating using whatever technology was already in use. Those firms already using Office 365 for example, were in a more advantageous position to take advantage of collaborative tools such as Teams and Forms to support the remote working model. Technology continues to evolve for remote working, such as Yonderdesk for example, which creates a virtual extension of you physical company. Tools are being developed across several key areas, including for remote support, collaboration, project management, call centre, video conferencing, colleague knowledge, and task management. Many firms are forming their remote working/hybrid strategies without understanding what the latest toolsets can offer and the extent to which they address existing issues with remote working. It has neve been so important to stay current and build the right strategic operating model for the future.