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Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner

March 2020 is feeling all too familiar at the moment as we experience tighter and stricter lockdown measures, perhaps not the 2021 we had hoped for. Business leaders understand the economic outlook remains gloomy, but there are opportunities to be found. Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner, a leading UK & International speaker bureau, argues business leaders need to use this period of increased social distancing measures to protect their employees wellbeing. It’ll not only allow them to perform at the best, but it’ll bring teams closer together when we’ve never been more apart

A new wave albeit a continuation of before

As we battle through the pandemic there has been a lot of discussion around which ‘wave’ we are in as across the world and the UK there have been a multitude of wave patterns, each creating contrasting restrictions even within the same square mile. 

From a business perspective, the discussions on which ‘wave’ we are in seems all too often to be ignored with an overriding focus on a return to a business environment which, for historical reasons, are seen as normal and ideal.  This is a comfort blanket for all of us trying to deal with the uncertainty we find ourselves in.  If we remove ourselves from the emotions caused by the new lockdown measures and focus on how the future looks and what the workplace is going to encompass, we can take some comfort that it is nothing more than a guessing game at the moment. 

Most of us are being pushed out of our comfort zone as the majority of employees have begun 2021 either working from home or a combination of environments. However, even if you fall into the latter category, you are likely experiencing an unfamiliar and highly regulated workplace. Businesses can look at this as a negative proposition but rather, with a New Year and the realisation that this hasn’t bought about some miraculous change but rather than a continuation of before, it means a mindset shift for business leaders needs to take place.

No way forward without support from employers
Businesses must focus on supporting their employees through the uncertainty that we are living and working in at the moment, in order to embrace and thrive in this new environment. No longer should it be seen as a holding pattern before we return to a pre-pandemic world, but rather an opportunity to form a tighter bond with the employees of the company.  It is a chance for the company to be delivering to their employees the support professionally and personally they need in order to both deliver to the company but also ensure they are looking after themselves in truly difficult circumstances.

From a professional standpoint, employees are adapting to their individual surroundings and circumstances resulting in the business having to embrace idiosyncrasies and the individual needs of every employees as a person, not just as a worker or a checkbox sheet on a HR list of requirements.  This requires time and flexibility, but the end results for a business is an employee who has the best possible environment and support to deliver to their employer.

From a personal perspective, this attention to the individual needs of an employee is required like never before.  The boundaries between work and play, between office and home, are broken.  Even for those who had embraced the freelance community or had the flexibility to work from home for their employer, it is likely the circumstances are different due to their surroundings, whether that be people around them or lockdown restrictions. Therefore, while individuals are seeking support, creative thinking and open minds to help them, most importantly they are seeking understanding.  From an emotional perspective, a company that can tap into this and deliver understanding will ensure their employee is in the right mindset to deliver the quality of work they seek from their teams. 

Playing the ‘long game’

It may appear that the benefits for hard work are not apparent however it is a case of playing the ‘long game’ to see the payoff. The benefits are not for today or even tomorrow, but rather it is the medium and long term.  The support, flexibility and time that a company dedicates to the individuals in the company will be repaid many times over in the future.  The employee will be both a happy employee who understands that the company is there for them, not just in words but also in actions. 

The old adage of a happy person is a productive person rings true today as much as ever with the additional bonus of a happy employees is a passionate advocate for the company.  And in this changing world we live in, one thing we know with ever more certainty, is that employees and customers want the brands and companies they work for or engage with to have values and purpose.  These messages are not just in words but also in the actions and deeds that the company partake and what better way can this be demonstrated than via the stories of how the company has looked after their employees since the start of the Pandemic.