Is Covid-19 (Coronavirus) a catalyst for change?

We find ourselves in unprecedented times.  Change is not just necessary but inevitable.  Covid-19 as a global pandemic is gathering momentum with its peak not predicted for a few more months yet.  Schools are now closed until further notice and mass lock down looks likely. The ramifications are going to be huge.

Business Impact

The impact on all businesses is inescapable.  No one is immune from the health, family, social, business and economic impact the pandemic is and will have. The vulnerable and elderly are to be protected, business are sort of being helped, exams have been cancelled with a huge impact on the people due to sit them and move on to the next stage in their lives, although with food and medical and the supply chains needing to remain operational some will escape the worst of it.    

Economic impact

It is too early to predict what the fallout from this will be but early predictions are for a global recession, the likes of which could be far deeper and uglier than the last financial crisis.  Stock markets have tanked, exchange rates are down, values of companies have been slashed and pensions etc. are a worry. Unfortunately, there are going to be many businesses that won’t survive this pandemic and there are others that will be transformed.  This could be the beginning of a new way of working for us all.  Although Government intervention with £330B sounds impressive, I don’t think grants or loans will help long term because this money currently needs paying back.  If the Government gives it as aid, the money has to come from somewhere and most likely in the form of increase in income tax, corporation tax, VAT etc.

Social impact

All our lives are on hold.  Sporting, social, family and business gatherings have been cancelled. Our elderly and vulnerable are going to feel isolated, alone and frightened.  We should all do what we can to help those in need and put the extra effort in to stay in touch and help them.

Many have moved to remote working where possible.  This in itself is no problem but there are plenty of jobs where that’s not possible.  Where it is possible, technology comes in to play here and we have been talking for some time about utilising technology to enable smarter working and now we are forced to make this work.  For those who already work from home/ hot desk, it won’t make too much difference, although previously it was optional.   This is likely to open a can of worms for those that get used to working in this way and see the benefits.  When we are over this, what is the advice that should be given from a HR prospective? Will remote / flexible working become the new norm?

Climate change – the positive impact

Every cloud has a silver lining.  The impact on climate change is going to be a positive one due to the immediate reduction in travel on a local level and globally which will help offset some of the negative impact that’s coming.  The downside of course, is the businesses that rely on this to make a living and to keep people in jobs. The airlines, hospitality, leisure industries are going to be hard hit but where do we draw the line at Government intervention?  If you do it for one, morally you should do it for all.

IR35 delay helps for now but more should be done

The delay of IR35 for 12 months is a small reprieve but more needs to be done in terms of its revision, implementation and general catch all.   It does however allow private sector businesses to utilise short term, flexible experienced interims to help restructure, change, transform, turnaround or provide practical business experience, HR advice etc. I think this will be needed more than ever as organisations come out the other side and (depending on the lock down scenario) will need it to get them through these uncharted waters.

Engage with the experts

The benefit of using experienced executives on a short term basis is to impart their knowledge and expertise on how to navigate through this as they have been there before. They can then be fully utilised for either restructuring, turnaround, change or enabling BAU.

Few business and political leaders have had to lead through a pandemic of this nature nor deal with the economic fallout.  Several factors will come in to play including, how they deal with uncertainty, the structure and adaptability of their businesses, how they are affected personally and how agile they can be to what will be a new world. 

Perhaps now is the time to bring in the help to have any chance of survival and hold open the jobs, ride the return to normality wave and go on to prosper.  Panic is not the answer and indeed more consideration should be given to working through this. Change, transformation , restructuring and turnaround experts who can quickly get to grips with the issues, have expertise in crisis management, can advise Boards on the best course of action and implement and deliver the plan.  Waiting is not a strategy.  Adaptability, innovative thinking and willingness to change might just be the survival strategy that’s needed.   

By utilising the experts, many of whom are available, organisations of all sizes will be stronger and more resilient for the future upturn that will come.

Let’s talk. Please get in touch for further discussion.

Keep safe.


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News posted: 19/03/2020 by Steven Wynne, MD Macallam Interim Resourcing

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