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COVID-19 series: our top tips for successful remote working

Many companies had to quickly introduce remote working solutions over the last few months to ensure that employees could continue to work from home. With remote working expected to become increasingly popular as we move into a ‘new normal’, working processes must be designed for the long term.

A people-focused approach

A shift to remote working has made it harder for employers to promote and maintain the wellbeing of their employees. Managers should facilitate regular opportunities for employees to chat face-to-face via video, both on an individual and group basis. This would enable them to gain an understanding of how each employee is coping. However, it should be noted that not everyone will be as comfortable discussing their issues. In such situations an anonymous questionnaire can assess morale while offering individuals the opportunity to provide feedback.

Communication is key

For many managers, this is likely to have been their first experience of managing a team remotely and it can bring about challenges. Clear communication will continue to be crucial in ensuring the entire team not only feel included but also have the opportunity to interact and build connections with the team outside of work. From Zoom and Slack to WhatsApp and Microsoft Teams, virtual communication has never been easier. Managers should encourage their teams to connect through the chosen platforms as much as possible.

Manage expectations

For many, a shift to remote working will present challenges, whether that be juggling working life with home schooling and childcare, or simply adjusting to social distancing practices. Managers should establish realistic and achievable expectations for their team. By clearly defining projects and tasks and focusing on outcomes, individuals are likely to feel more accomplished.

The current situation has proven that organisations can adapt to new realities. By focusing on employee wellbeing, providing the right tools and establishing the right support networks, businesses can ensure that their people remain happy and productive.

For more information on supporting your employees through change, please contact the team here.

COVID-19 series: how to build a more resilient healthcare system

The NHS has been through a period of rapid change over the past few months. Increased demand for healthcare services during COVID-19 forced trusts to urgently step up their capacity and find more efficient ways of working.

However, in order to drive value from existing improvements and build resilience for any future crises, there are a number of steps that trusts should consider taking.

1. Streamline operating models

A key challenge currently facing the NHS is the need to restart routine treatments. By using multi-disciplinary teams and leaner operating models, trusts can speed-up decision-making and the delivery of treatment plans. However, it is vital that this does not come at the expense of the quality of care provided to patients.

2. Manage resources efficiently

To restart routine services without breaking the bank, it’s important that existing resources are used efficiently. Trusts should consider creative ways to build flexibility into existing working arrangements to get services back up and running. For instance, would increasing the number of services working a 7-day week be beneficial to the patients?

3. Encourage collaboration

In order to bolster the NHS ahead of any future crises, trusts should promote a culture of collaboration across different areas of healthcare expertise. By encouraging workers to understand different areas of the organisation, it is possible to reduce NHS services becoming reliant on specific individuals, limiting the chance of services being interrupted.

4. Take care of healthcare workers

Healthcare staff on COVID-19 wards have been under significant pressure in recent months. Consequently this could have a long-term impact on workforce wellbeing. Providing them with the right on-going psychological support and putting robust HR functions in place will be important to ensure wellbeing and productivity do not take a hit in the months ahead.

5. Communication is key

Effective communication with staff and partners is vital if results from organisational changes are to stand the test of time. By focusing on three key messages – why the change is happening, exactly what it means and the expected benefits – the NHS can get the entire organisation on board and make it a success.

For more advice on delivering lasting change within the healthcare sector, contact us here.

COVID-19 series: achieving an agile business

During the COVID-19 pandemic, remote working tools and technologies have enabled organisations to maintain continuity and build more resilient businesses. However, to ensure they are able to respond to future challenges, they must plan ahead and consider what technology changes mean for other areas of the organisation. So how can they get this right?

1. Focus on continuous improvement  

There has never been a better time for companies to review their processes and update their business model. During lockdown, employees have become used to a ‘new normal’ in flexible working practices. Consequently it will be important to ensure that further changes in this area are built to last. Over the coming months, organisations should be on the lookout for opportunities to improve the way they operate. By doing so they will be able to mitigate any domino effects of technology investment on their people, processes, systems and infrastructure.

2. Take a step-by-step approach

The uncertain nature of the pandemic situation can make it difficult for companies to develop a long-term strategy. Instead, using business checklists can help to inform decision-making over shorter periods; for example, what are the requirements for bringing staff back into the office and what technology investment is needed as part of this?

3. Put people first

Thorough training around new technology solutions is important to avoid employee productivity levels taking a hit. By being on hand to answer questions about technology changes and provide reassurance, leaders can help employees to better perform their roles. Considering how employee wants and needs have changed during the pandemic will also help leaders to support workforce wellbeing and retain talent.

For more information on achieving agility through technology transformation, please contact Luke Taylor or Tim Powlson here.

Where are you on the change curve?

We are living through an enormous change. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced all of us into a changed way of life: a changed work environment and a changed home environment.  Everything has changed. For many of us this has been difficult, for all too many of us this has been tragic. But for everyone this has been a change. 

And, the changes keep on coming: everyone stay at home, children to learn at home, leave the house for 1-hour a day to exercise, everyone start going back to work, everyone stay 2 meters apart, everyone to wear a mask on the bus, bubble with one other person, everyone to stay 1 metre apart, children to return to school, households can meet one at a time…

Dealing with change

As a change management consultancy, we are very comfortable talking to clients about the changes they are looking to enact.  We coach people through the various emotions felt as the change is implemented.  The current situation, however, has forced us to experience a change for ourselves. 

We can all react very differently to changes.  I’ve used the Kulber-Ross Change Curve to help discuss the emotions that people are feeling as they progress through a change.  The curve has been helpful in the current change to process my own responses and feelings.

I’ve certainly felt many of the early stages: shock, denial, frustration, depression (in some cases repeatedly!).  My challenge now is figuring out how to move past the early stages and get into the more positive and productive stages?

Time for something new

In my experience when change happens, we have an opportunity for positive improvement and innovation.  The quicker we can get into the “Experiment” stage the better.  During the Covid-19 crisis many people have implemented changes that would have been unlikely or even unimaginable just days before.  Sometimes chaos gives us the permission to try a change.  Maybe this is because the fear of failure is removed; we are already failing so we may as well try something new?

I’d be really interested to hear about what you’ve done to adapt and move into a more positive place on the change curve.

COVID-19 series: three steps to building a resilient business

From interrupted services and the closure of offices to the need to follow the Government’s stringent safety guidelines, businesses have faced several unexpected challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, many have been forced to rapidly transform their systems and processes to provide employees with the equipment and know-how to work remotely.

While these changes might not have been planned, they should be viewed as a positive step in building a more resilient business. As we begin to adjust to a ‘new normal’, how can companies further improve their resilience and maintain business continuity?

1. Embrace technology

The majority of businesses have had to swiftly embrace remote working and cloud-based solutions over the last few months. Moving forward, the implementation of any further technology solutions must be carefully assessed and made in line with the organisation’s overall strategy. A business change expert can help to inform the decision-making process by objectively looking at the various needs of the company and selecting a system that suits it best.

2. Utilise analytics

The use of online systems and processes during the pandemic has led to many organisations having increased access to business data. When used correctly, this data can offer valuable insights into what is working well, and any changes needed to increase productivity and efficiency levels. Analytics can also enable businesses to better understand their client base, allowing them to stay competitive by identifying trends and making informed decisions.

3. Consider company culture

Culture lies at the heart of every company and should be reviewed regularly. Keeping employees in the loop regarding changes and seeking feedback on current and new processes can help to create a safe and supportive culture, which can, in turn, improve job retention and attract new talent.

For more information on building a resilient business, please contact Debora Marras or Matthew Garrett here.

Cultural migration: Finding the silver lining

Migrating systems to the cloud might seem like an obvious choice for businesses, as it allows them to save time and improve their efficiency. However, it is not always a simple task. Organisations must first understand the impacts it could have on people, processes, systems and infrastructure. So, what are the dos and don’ts of cloud migration projects?

Do:

  • Engage the workforce – Leaders should invest time in ensuring that employees are clear about the project’s objectives and the advantages. Once employees are onboard, it’s more likely that the project will succeed
  • Develop a detailed plan – Create a plan to help to drive maximum value from cloud migration initiatives and avoid any issues cropping up after project delivery. The plan should detail which applications or systems are to be migrated and how daily business disruption can be minimised
  • Gain external support – Seek the support of experts with experience in helping businesses to carry out migration projects is always a wise move

Don’t:

  • Migrate without testing applications first – It can be tempting to take the bull by the horns and migrate a large number of business areas without testing applications beforehand. However, it may be safer to migrate a small area to begin with. This ensures that the cloud system is performing as it should, before any sensitive data is moved over
  • ‘Shoehorn’ on-site applications for use on the cloud – Not all applications are suitable for use on the cloud. Trying to force them to work on it may stop them from functioning properly

By thoroughly considering how cloud computing will fit into their long-term strategy, and accepting that cloud migration is likely to be a marathon rather than a sprint, businesses can reap the benefits of a successful migration project long into the future.

For more information on how to migrate systems to the cloud, please contact Luke Taylor.

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