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What to Prioritise as We Head Toward a ‘New Working Normal' by Adrian Adair, Group COO

Rebekah Valero-Lee thought leadership

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The world is different. Whilst we still don’t exactly yet know to what extent it has changed, it has. In our personal, professional and social lives, there has been nothing in our lifetimes to create such a seismic change in the way we conduct ourselves. And until the dust of COVID-19 settles, we will continue to predict what our lives may or may not look like in the future.

Though we can make no hard and fast assertions, there are learnings that business leaders and management teams can take from the seven weeks we have been in lockdown so far to ensure they create safe, open and collaborative working environments with their workforce and their health at the heart. 


The physical workplace

Following the announcement from Government that workers from certain sectors can return if they don’t have the tools and capacity to work from home, businesses are considering the physicality of the workplace environment.

Never before have they had to take steps to introduce social distancing measures; and quite simply, a lot of workplaces weren’t designed for people to remain 2m apart. Additionally, we are left wondering for how long this guidance will be in place. It will require day to day decision making and will mean businesses must quickly adapt to changes as restrictions relax.

To help businesses overcome these constantly evolving challenges, we are making our Health and Safety Advisors and Consultants available to all. They can provide bespoke guidance on different workplace scenarios and the steps needed to socially distance employees while achieving some level of continuity. 


Knowledge is king

COVID-19 has highlighted the need for ongoing education in the workplace. This applies to both us and our staff, and our clients – especially those who don’t traditionally work in safety-critical environments.

With each Government announcement and every update from Public Health England, we are arming ourselves with knowledge and the resource to ensure our workforce remains responsive and valuable to clients and projects.

As we venture forward, knowledge will remain king. As will common sense, and guided judgement. Currently, there is little right and wrong. That feels unsettling, but in the short term at least, we must embrace it, learn from it and grow. 


Communicating clearly

Transparent communication was a key business requirement before COVID-19, and it has emerged as something that simply cannot afford to go wrong in the future. Messaging in and outside of businesses has had to improve during the pandemic, especially in scenarios where remote offices and home working have been involved.

Individuals working away from the main bedrock of a business face feeling disconnected when previously, they were part of the social dynamic we enjoy in our workplaces. Striking a balance between safety and ensuring no-one is isolated is a challenge, and unique to every business.

But, widely, we will continue to see a rise in video content; it works so well because as humans, we crave face to face contact. Plus, it can be done in real time and can facilitate the fast decision making we’re so used to on site or in an office. Additionally, now more than ever, clarity in written messaging is key. 


‘What did you do?’

Working culture is hugely important, and looking ahead, candidates will be asking potential employers what they did during COVID-19 to protect their staff, make them feel valued, and remain operational. They will benchmark companies against one another, and arguably, it will be an employer’s response to this that will determine whether a candidate considers them for the role they’ve made available.

Here at the Morson Group, we’ve prioritised showing our team, clients and contractors that we put them first. As we develop plans to phase our people back, we must consider their mental health as much as their physical health. In response, we’ve commissioned a COVID-specific mental health and wellbeing programme in partnership with our training arm, Morson Training, and our health and wellbeing engagement partner, Heather Deering, which will support anyone with a real anxiousness about coming back to work. This will also be rolled out to customers and our partners, so we can work to rebuild our supply chain.

Of course, all this might change again in the coming weeks. We have little idea what the future holds so, arguably, we can only prepare for the ‘right now’. And while it’s always smart to have an eye on what the next 1, 3 and 5 years might look like, we’re encouraging everyone to take small, incremental steps.

Listen to your workplace, listen to your suppliers, and respond to their needs. Simply, show you care. 


Seek out the experts

To support our clients into the new COVID world, we have within our armoury a raft of services, expert consultants and technology solutions that work to deliver business continuity, protect the health, safety and welfare of workforces and ultimately ensure we can keep Britain working.

To find out more about how the Morson Group can help with developing new policies and practices, through to the revising of office layouts and workspaces in line with Government advice, contact me at adrian.adair@morson.com




About Morson Group COO, Adrian Adair:

With 19 years’ industry experience, Adrian Adair drives Morson Group’s diversification into new markets and transformation of the technical recruiter’s brand as a UK engineering expert into a global specialist in permanent and interim talent-based solutions.

In 2019 Adrian was placed on the SI Staffing 100 list which recognises men and women who are charting a course into the future of workforce solutions. Adrian has a commitment to true inclusion and facilitated the Morson partnership with the Girls’ Network and is a Northern Power Women role model.