25 Jan New Year, New Company: 3 Lessons to Take from 2020 into 2021
2020 is finally over. We can breathe a collective sigh of relief, take a moment to congratulate ourselves on getting through it and, most importantly, reflect on what we learned so that we can make 2021 a far better year.
So what were the key lessons of 2020, and what can we take with us into 2021?
1. Contingency Planning is Not a Box to Tick
Before 2020, business continuity planning was often sidelined for other, more urgent tasks. It was often a set-and-forget task with analyses to be made, recommendations to be considered and, finally, boxes to be ticked. However, if there’s one thing COVID-19 taught us it’s that business continuity cannot be taken for granted.
As we roll into 2021, it’s time to revisit your business continuity plans and consider if they are fit for purpose. And, on top of that, to make sure they take into account all that you have learned from 2020.
To use an example, one of the most common problems in such plans previously is that they often focused too strongly on infrastructure and not so much on people. But, as we saw with COVID-19, it almost entirely impacted people. Roads were open, the internet still worked, nobody’s office had fallen down, but the people had all been sent home. For some organisations, this was devastating – but it didn’t have to be.
Questions to ask:
- Does your business continuity plan take into account impacts on people, such as pandemics?
- Is your organisation prepared to rapidly move to remote working in future?
- How prepared are you to pivot your business model in the face of a major crisis?
- Do you have a crisis management team that is trained and ready to act in the face of an emergency?
- Has your plan been properly tested to ensure that it will function as intended?
2. Be Open to Digital Innovation – But Not Reckless
Digital transformation was one of the key themes of 2020. In order to continue functioning during tight lockdowns, organisations had to find new ways to keep employees productive – and that meant investing, rapidly, in technology.
For example, Cisco’s “A new perspective on the modern workplace” report noted that IT teams had at times implemented as much as a 4.7x increase in the level of staff working remotely, sometimes in just a matter of days, and 58% of respondents agreed they were now using technology that they had previously rejected/ignored. The leaders who urged this type of fast innovation and worked hard with their tech teams to keep systems running, employees working and products moving even when people could not come into physical contact were some of the most successful during the year.
However, it’s not 2020 anymore. Vaccines are rolling out across the world and, at some point, things will start to return to ‘normal’, whatever that now means. Rapid innovation is one thing, but reckless innovation can leave a company open to harm. Where rapid innovation turns to reckless innovation is when leaders don’t look back and reflect on the improvements made, the tools invested in, and make sure that they are appropriate for long-term use.
Questions to ask:
- How well do your new vendors protect themselves, and therefore, their customers?
- What control do you have over security access levels?
- What support do these new tools offer?
- Is the cost worth it, or can you find a better deal now that you have time to look?
3. The Wellbeing of Staff is the Wellbeing of the Company
COVID-19 had a profound impact on people’s health and wellbeing. Aside from the literal impact of the virus itself, there were the impacts on mental health from lockdowns, stress from knowing the virus was spreading, the lack of hospital support for conditions not related to the pandemic, and yet more.
As a result, according to Cisco, 73% of respondents claimed they found it hard to maintain staff morale, and 76% were struggling to balance life and work in the new normal, where work and home were the same location.
With 2021 underway, staff wellbeing cannot be an afterthought. As a leader, you have a fabulous opportunity to get ahead and to show your employees that you genuinely care about their wellbeing, that they matter. Your company can show itself to be the ‘good guy’ in people’s lives.
Even if you don’t have the budget for big employee assistance programmes or health initiatives, you can show your support in other ways. Organise social clubs, reflect on your company’s sick leave culture, promote how to be healthy in the workplace, and make sure your employees know that their leaders care about them.
Questions to ask:
- Do people feel OK taking sick leave in your organisation?
- Does your company promote a healthy work/life balance?
- Do your employees spend time with each other socially?
- Do you, as a leader, embody the culture you want to present to staff?
In all crises there are lessons to be learned, and COVID-19 has been a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve yourself as a leader, and bring your company into the modern age.
If you need help finding new talent to help you on this new journey, reach out to our team of IT & Digital recruitment specialists at Emanate Technology.