So, after several months, we are as well versed in Coronavirus as it is possible to be. We’ve lived through a complete lockdown where initial worries were for our health, loved ones, managing work and the toilet roll supply. We eagerly anticipated our slow release from captivity and so, this term, the kids went back through the school gates, we tentatively stepped foot back into the workplace and some of us have even gone out for dinner and a pint. Now, however, it seems that the shutters are coming back down.
Employers have really been through the ringer. Learning lots of new rules, understanding the various financial lifelines being thrown out by the Chancellor every few weeks, making a safe return to work possible and then having the rules changed again, often with no notice to speak of. We see the ripple effects across every business sector, at every level.
Some areas of the UK are back to complete lockdown whilst others are living with restrictions. We all face changes in terms of pub curfews, tiny weddings and the rule of six. The guidance is getting quite complicated as we travel from region to region and there is currently talk of a new version of lockdown that will apply to everyone as the government aims to reduce the rising rate of infection.
The point of this lengthy introduction is to make the point that we are each existing with a set of circumstances that are unique to us. We might have experienced the virus first-hand. We may be unable to return to work. We might be living out the final weeks of the furlough scheme, worrying about the future. We’re in it together but we are also in it on our own – as no one else has exactly the situation we do.
As HR leaders it’s really up to us to guide our teams of people through the chaos as individuals. Within the legal framework that we have to operate within, why don’t we allow our people to speak up and tell us how they might best approach their unique ‘normal’?
A study on habit formation suggests that the average time for a new habit to form is 66 days, with a minimum of 21 days. As of this writing, the lockdown has already lasted long enough in many countries to significantly change habits that had been the foundation of demand and supply. [source: HBR, Sep – Oct 2020]
Over several months our teams have developed new ways of doing things, we have formed new habits. What has been successful? What can be incorporated wholesale and which elements of the changed environment can be utilised by some of the workforce?
In times of crisis, it’s easy for organizations to default to old habits—but those are often the times in which new approaches are most valuable. As companies position themselves for the new normal, they cannot afford to be constrained by traditional information sources, business models, and capital allocation behaviors. [source: HBR, Sep – Oct 2020]
The benefits of collaborating with our teams means that we can pool knowledge at every level and gain the very best understanding of how best to proceed. We can arm ourselves with the law at the base level, that is: what are we allowed to do? And then, from there, we should consider: what can we do? Never has there been a better time to rewrite the rule book.
Our October theme is vulnerability and we should allow ourselves to show vulnerability as we speak up and outline what works best – for us, for our business and the economy as a whole. From this standpoint we could actually experience growth through improved relationships and the recognition of our own personal strength as we explore the possibilities.
So, as the country is on the verge of another significant way of doing things, it is time that we speak up and ask our teams how they might significantly change how things are done?