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Covid-19 Series: working practices

Remote working has become the norm during the COVID-19 pandemic, with many businesses having to adapt their working practices in order to function. However, lockdown won’t last forever, and employers should be considering how to prepare their workforce for the return to the office.

Not just a luxury

In 2019, only 30 percent of UK employees worked from home. Remote working was generally seen as a bonus, but this is likely to change.

The changes required in response to COVID-19 have offered real insights into the future of UK business.  The truth is that employees can still be just as productive at home, the flexibility of home working can improve work / life balance, and there are a number of clear financial benefits in terms of reducing both office and travel costs. As such, business leaders should consider whether this new approach to working could play an important role in the company, even after lockdown ends.

Time for change

Now that the benefits of remote working have been highlighted on a countrywide scale, the opportunity to take a brand-new approach to the workplace has arisen. However, to successfully embrace this change, businesses should evaluate their processes so far.

By carrying out an internal survey, or seeking the help of a professional, companies can discover any weaknesses in resources or communication before post-lockdown initiatives are introduced.

Technological transformation

To allow people to work from home effectively, many businesses have had to make technological investments. For example:

  • Online collaboration tools to make sure colleagues and clients can stay connected
  • Cloud-based solutions to ensure databases are accessible from anywhere

If flexible working is to continue after lockdown, businesses should now assess the effectiveness of these processes and consider whether further investment is necessary, in order to achieve the best results.

Offering support

As well as technology, individuals may also need emotional support. Regular check-ins can identify any concerns they might have about returning to the office, allowing changes to be made with employees in mind. This could include offering flexible working hours for those still juggling other commitments, staggering start times for those who use public transport, or providing the option to work from home for part of the week.

New beginnings

Remote working requires an initial investment, both in terms of time and technology, but when done right, it offers a host of personal and financial benefits. Business leaders are now faced with an opportunity to welcome these positive changes and take a new approach to working life that could improve both productivity and employee wellbeing.

To find out more about how to help your workforce cope with life after lockdown, please contact Dave Fisher.

Three top tips for successful cultural integration

Cultural integration isn’t always a business’s number one priority when undertaking a merger and acquisition (M&A). However, too much focus on time and cost alone, instead of on the needs of employees, could have considerable implications for the long-term success of consolidation activity.

So, what are the three main pitfalls that organisations need to avoid when it comes to M&A activity?

1. Invest in your employees

If employees don’t feel supported by a business, there is a risk of productivity levels falling and commercial objectives being missed. As such, open communication with employees is vital; adopting a consistent approach can help in achieving this.

By keeping employees engaged with the change process, they are more likely to remain happy. In turn this improves retention and minimises additional marketing and recruitment costs.

2. Start with a health check

In order to streamline the cultural integration process, businesses should begin by identifying their ideal target culture. From here, the company should undertake a thorough business health check, which examines key areas such as employee motivation and commitment to the existing brand. Once this information has been collected, a rigorous impact assessment should be conducted to determine how cultural change will affect the business across four key areas:

  • People
  • Processes
  • Systems
  • Infrastructure

3. Plan ahead

The truth is that successful culture change does not happen overnight. Failing to allow sufficient time for changes to become embedded could ultimately make the difference between business success and failure. Seeking quality third-party advice at an early stage of the project can also help businesses to avoid any pitfalls that could negatively impact the project further down the line.

By considering cultural integration during M&As, as well as time and cost, businesses can maximise commercial advantages from consolidation activity and ensure the workforce stays happy long after the project is complete.

For more information on how to successfully carry out M&A activity, please contact Peter Marsden or Debora Marras.

A day in the life of… Luke Taylor

In a nutshell, what do you do?

Put simply, being a programme manager involves working closely with businesses to help transform the way they work. We are basically problem solvers. In my role, good people skills are everything; a typical programme involves talking with different clients and stakeholders to ensure everything is joined up and moving in the same direction.

My main passion is digital transformation and during my three and a half years with Entec Si, I’ve been lucky enough to work across many sectors, from local and central government to the not-for-profit sector.

What do you love about your job, and why?

I love that I get to meet lots of interesting people at work. In particular, drilling down into their motivations for wanting change is fascinating. I’ve really enjoyed getting involved in developing talent too, whether that be mentoring our junior team members, or upskilling clients on site.

However, probably the best thing about my role is being able to experience the entire programme lifecycle, from kick-off right through to completion, and witness the power of positive change on client outcomes first-hand.

What is most challenging about your job, and why?

The flip side of working with lots of different stakeholders is the need to constantly manage expectations. This can be tricky when working with large organisations and requires a delicate touch to ensure everyone is on the same page, and working towards a common goal.

The varied nature of programme management means that it’ll never be 100 per cent straightforward. However, as someone who enjoys a challenge, I try to see obstacles as opportunities to learn and progress.

What three words would you use to describe Entec Si as a business? Please explain your choices!

“Variety”, “fun” and “opportunity”. One of the best things about working at Entec Si is that you never know what the day will bring! For example, one day you might be delivering a cloud migration project for a local council and the next you’re helping to launch a passenger self-service system for an airport.

I‘ve chosen “fun” because even when the going gets tough, the team always tries to keep everyone’s spirits up. We all enjoy our regular social events and away days too!

Finally, “opportunity” is the perfect word to describe the business as its investment in people is second-to-none.

What route did you take into the world of business change?

From a young age, I set my sights on following in my father’s footsteps within the legal industry by becoming a barrister, which I know is quite an unusual career aspiration for a child! However, while studying law at university, I decided that it wasn’t something I wanted to do as a living.

Organising the university’s Critical Law Conference gave me a taste for driving stakeholder engagement and seeing the pay-off from successful project delivery. After graduating, I saw an advert for a junior project manager role at the Home Office and realised that the key skills I’d developed – reasoning, planning and analytics – were a good fit for a consultancy career. After three years working on different projects around the UK, I found a role advertised with Entec Si. The rest is history!

What do you wish you’d known when you started your career?

That it’s ok to make mistakes! It’s often when things get tough that your skills show through – without things going wrong, how can you learn?

I also wish I’d known that it’s fine to ask for help sometimes. No matter what point you’re at in your career, there will always be things you don’t know.

What has been your best ever moment at Entec Si?

Without a doubt, it was the delivery of CSSC’s digital service programme. It was the culmination of 18 months of hard work, but seeing the impact of the organisation’s new website, CRM system and events booking tool made every moment worthwhile! It was also a programme which saw other junior members of the team make huge strides in terms of their professional development, which was really great to see.

What would your ideal weekend look like?

One which involves playing or watching sport of some kind! I love the camaraderie you experience when playing rugby, and I’m a member of Old Newtonians RFC. My other passion outside of work is live music, so I go to gigs and festivals whenever I can. If it’s a more relaxed weekend, one of my more unusual hobbies is playing board games with friends and family – our favourite at the moment is a railway-themed game called ‘Ticket to Ride’!

Covid-19 Series – local government

While the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting organisations across all sectors, local authorities have several specific obstacles to overcome. Providing vital public services, local government departments have had to quickly adapt their processes, despite budget and technology restraints.

However, with careful planning and the right specialist expertise, councils can continue to meet the needs of their communities, while implementing new working strategies that safeguard employee safety and wellbeing.

Modernising processes

As a provider of “key public services” set out by the Government, local councils are playing a crucial role during the current crisis. With many services experiencing an uptick in demand due to coronavirus and gaps in resources, councils may need to modernise their processes, such as IT and technology, in order to meet this growing need and protect employees.

Remote but connected working

Despite tight budgets and often limited technology infrastructure, much like many other businesses, local government are too having to implement remote working arrangements. To do so effectively, councils need to supply workers with the right technology solutions and think ahead in terms of the impacts that remote working might have on the organisation’s people, processes, systems and infrastructure

Keeping up communication

Over time, working from home may lead to a feeling of isolation. If left unsupported, employees may become disengaged and detached from their teams and the wider organisation; which could damage the overall dynamic and may lead to a dip in productivity. By maintaining an open line of communication and emphasising trust in workers to manage their workload, leaders can maintain team motivation.

Get the right expertise

The need for rapid organisational changes can cause disruption to everyday processes, however, with the right support this can be minimised, and local authorities can ensure that changes are made to last. By relying on experienced specialists, authorities can be successful in relieving short-term pressures and realising the council’s long-term goals.

Through strategic thinking and planning, councils can adapt for the “new normal” in working practices. By adapting to the emerging COVID-19 situation and modernising their processes accordingly, local authorities can emerge from this crisis as more agile organisations.

For more information on how to deliver an effective COVID-19 response, please contact Julie Smith.

Entec Si – coronavirus statement

We are taking the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak very seriously and have put in place a range of measures to help to protect our team and our clients. We’ve been following official guidance from the Government and health authorities to ensure we are minimising the risk exposure, while keeping any disruption to our service limited.

We are very much running as usual, in very unusual circumstances.

The measures we’ve put in place include:

  • Amending company ways of working – We’ve implemented new company policies and operational procedures to safeguard the health and safety of all of our teams and and clients – ensuring our ways of working limit the spread of COVID-19
  • Keeping up-to-date with guidance – Our whole team is receiving official guidance on how to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus and the steps to take if they have coronavirus symptoms
  • Home working –  We’ve always worked flexibly, but remote working has become our new norm for the time being. As some of the sectors we operate in involve key workers, we are attending site on occasions to support these areas, but only when absolutely necessary
  • Daily updates – We’re contingency and continuity planning on an ongoing basis to ensure there is no disruption to the service we provide

How can we help?

We’re in the business of change and we’re helping many to adjust to this new world. Now is the time to make change happen, not run away from it and for many businesses, there is no choice but to adapt.

Although this is unlike any usual circumstance, there are many ways in which we can support businesses through the coronavirus outbreak – get in touch for support and guidance. The areas of most interest at the moment include:

  1. Business continuity planning
  2. Implementing remote working for your staff, including fit for purpose tools and technology, processes, procedures, documents, training and support
  3. Facilitation of online meetings and documentation/online workshops/FAQs
  4. Supply chain analysis
  5. eLearning development

Five steps to managing change in the charity sector

Effective operational change can help charities to make the most of their existing resources, boost internal efficiencies and attract further support from donors. The sector’s ever-growing emphasis on ‘value for money’ and difficulties around securing funding are increasing the need for streamlined processes, which have a positive impact on public perception.

Following these five top tips can help charities to drive value from transformation projects, and benefit those in need.

Recognise red flags

Staying alert for signs that a charity is struggling to achieve its objectives can help when deciding whether to implement operational change. Warning signs might include high levels of stress or a lack of motivation amongst employees. Inefficient processes and the lack of a proactive approach within an organisation may also indicate the need for urgent improvements.

Drive forward digital transformation

Having a strong digital strategy in place is essential for enabling accountability around spending decisions and measuring the impact of a charity’s work. Other important benefits of digital solutions include:

  • Streamlined internal processes and systems
  • Enhanced communications with employees working remotely
  • Increased competitiveness

Choose a tailored change solution

Choosing a bespoke change solution, which complements a charity’s existing resources and works alongside employees, is vital. Doing so will ensure that change projects deliver long-term results. This approach provides the workforce with opportunities to upskill and boosts their sense of ownership.

Bolster employee buy-in

Investing time in internally communicating the reasons for change is vital for securing employees’ commitment to making transformation projects a success. Assessing potential impacts on the workforce, and taking steps to mitigate these in advance helps to ensure a smooth change transition.

See the bigger change picture

Strained resources, funding issues and time-poor employees may mean that charities fail to view change projects as a priority. However, when implemented effectively, organisational transformation can significantly enhance efficiencies whilst supporting long-term relationships with donors.

For more information or to discuss change management solutions further, please contact Anna Lane.

Let's start a conversation!

Contact us at info@entecsi.com