The Business Exchange Swindon & Wiltshire Edition 49: June/July 2020 - Page 28

RETURNING TO THE “NEW NOR WORK ENVIRONMENT By Rob Stokes As we are all too aware the current pandemic, COVID-19, has greatly influence within the working environment and our home. For many working from home, also home schooling, there has been a blurring of the lines between work and meant the old adage of ‘work to live, not live to work’ has been harder to adhe Now, as we focus on the return to work and the ‘new normal’, as many have begun to call it, what does this mean for you and your business? What is clear is that some form of social distancing will remain - for how long, none of us are sure - and many businesses are adopting new ways of working within the rules. The Government has published guidance to assist employers: www.gov. uk/guidance/working-safely-duringcoronavirus-covid-19 Whilst the Government continues to have support available - including CJRS, SEISS, CBILS and BBLS - the reality of the situation is that not all businesses are going to survive. If your customers are in isolation and cannot get to you, or you cannot deliver, or they cannot pay you, there is the reality of reduced or no sales for the next few months and even beyond, if the virus remains. However, it is worth remembering that the situation we face is one we cannot change. What you can do is stay healthy and ensure your loved ones are too. After all, if the business closes and you are healthy you can start again. The reverse is not true. So, here is what you need to do right now: 1. Stay healthy, follow the Government guidelines for you, your family, coworkers, employees and community. Work from home where you can manage administration. Make sure you download the relevant Government checklist of guidance for your industry, to say that you have risk assessed and made appropriate changes to your work environment. 2. Plan. What will your business look like in six months’ time? The best way to predict your future is to create it. 3. Take time to look at your business with a SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats. Make notes, involve everyone, and brainstorm. 4. Work out your expenses (including salaries) for the next six months. 5. Estimate your cashflow over the next six months. At Optimum, we have the tools to help. Challenging times, mixed blessi tips for launch after lockdown By Lockdown has been a challenge, everything has changed. Not all of that change has been bad, in many ways having to adapt the business to operate in a different way has allowed many companies to be more resourceful. Entire work forces are now working remotely, in a timescale that would have been laughed at only a couple of months ago. I suspect some will never go back to the office-based model again or, at least, will be less afraid of staff working from home. What the lockdown has actually shown is increased productivity of remote teams is possible - because not everyone works best at the same times of day. This flexibility means tasks can be completed best when employees feel motivated and focussed. For PCH, the home office was a big part of the working week so lockdown hasn’t felt too restrictive –the need to embrace video conferencing for large parts of the day has shown its possible to still engage with existing and even new clients. I have been fortunate that even though it’s been tough for many of my clients, they seem to be coping well. This is a testament to my working closely with them over the previous months as they’ve already been working ON the business with my support. I have had a number of projects shelved, however I was delighted to be selected to lead the business 1-2-1 COVID19 support process for OxLEP and Oxfordshire. In this role, I’ve been helping businesses to deal with difficult circumstances and navigate government support. This also means helping them work on the business and prepare for launch again– often identifying a more profitable and efficient operating model as a result. Some of my recommendations for coming out of lockdown positively have been: 1) Communicate, to your teams, associates and especially customers – what are you doing, what are you going to be doing, what can they expect? 2) Plan how social distancing and safety in your workplace will work, now! 3) Embrace flexible working and remote working – review the working arrangements, technology and management processes and be ready. 4) Manage cashflow, engage with debtors and creditors openly – understand what impact post- lockdown will have on