The rapid transformation that was required in response to COVID-19 exposed weaknesses in business models and business continuity plans which could not have adequately prepared many for the events of the last 16 months. But the way we re-think and redeploy our workforce now can vastly improve business resilience for the future. This is possible not through a shift to automation or to new locations, but though a decoupling of individuals from tasks, resulting in a radical re-think of people and places.
COVID-19 brought to light the need to be local as well as global, remote as well as having a physical presence. Never has the ability of businesses to be flexible, agile and yet resilient been so tested. In the new ecosystem of work, people strategy will have a new set of rules too with a shift towards more agile capability that will allow businesses to fulfil critical tasks through a blend of virtual workers and those in physical locations.
Re-group, rethink, redeploy
During 2020 and 2021 leaders have been driving the biggest remote working experiment we have ever seen. Now, they’re trying to determine the size and shape of the workforce that will enable the organisation to thrive in the future. Yet, thinking is still restricted by the here and now. For business continuity teams, viewing business resilience through a skills lens brings a new dimension to planning for the future.
What factors will improve business continuity and resilience in the post-pandemic world? Here are 10 that we believe will be powerful influences on BCP.
10 new factors of business resilience
1. Location of skills
Skills are no longer tied to a physical location. This shift has opened up the world as a talent pool and as a solution to distributing risk. However, although the decoupling of people from locations unlocks supply, it introduces new complexities around salary and legal requirements. The question for business continuity leaders to ask themselves is how radical they want to be? Do you want to view the world without boundaries? At what point does location become a minor requirement? Having access to data on skills in locations allows planners to revisit the case for their business model.
Access to strong connectivity allows businesses to unlock agility and collaboration. The arrival of 5G is going to change the way we think about connectivity once again. Location decisions will still be influenced by mobile network quality, internet usage, internet speed, internet bandwidth, and mobile coverage, but 5G will change the way we communicate. Business continuity mangers need to understand the ability to work with the latest connectivity advancements in the locations in which they have employees.
3. Carbon footprint
In the post-COVID-19 world, companies are reconsidering the need for travel. Some are actively trying to reduce their carbon footprint through reducing business travel, and people are becoming more thoughtful about their commute. Are you able to offer a greener commute that is more pleasant and climate conscious? Do your locations allow a safe journey to work for employees? It’s important to recognise the nature of the social commute for those who do the journey every day by looking at journeys within the context of social districts. Data on skills and location will help companies to plan how they will reduce their carbon footprint without compromising on skills or productivity.
4. Cost of living
In the past, cost of living was a heavily weighted factor when planning long term investments in a location and that investment meant a lengthy and costly bricks and mortar commitment. In the future, where the skills required are more distributed, cost of living will be part of an ongoing analysis of skills by location that will continuously inform business planning. Cost of living will be more about accessing skills rather than accessing ‘cheaper’ skills. Planners will look at access to skills alongside elements that negate some of the costs such as government subsidies and grants.5. Ease of doing business
Ease of doing business in a place is much more complex than understanding red tape, tariffs and the legal implications of trade. Ease of doing business needs to acknowledge that the major risks are people and skills related. In order to plan effectively, businesses need access to data on people, skills, employment law, unionisation, maturity of the HR function and the potential costs and fall-out of exiting a market. All these factors need to be viewed from a workforce-centric point of view.
6. People Risk
Managing risk has been rewritten since COVID-19. Not many organisations had a business continuity plan for the eventuality in which no one could come to work. Managing risk now needs to include the people risk – how can we keep people working outside of their normal location? This requires an understanding at the macro and individual level. For example, how well connected are people for remote work? Perhaps looking at internet speed. At the individual level, how well are people set up for remote work? Perhaps getting an understanding of how many employees are living in crowded, multi-generational households. Understanding these factors can inform de-risking of the business model.
7. Human or machine?
Although most organisations were already on the digitalisation journey, many are struggling to link investments in tech with value creation. In the new ecosystem of work, workforce planners and strategic HR thinkers will break down roles into tasks in order to identify what can be automated or digitalised, and what needs a human. This decoupling of individuals from work being done will enable businesses to balance the people vs digital conundrum.
Planning has long taken account of traditional infrastructure including property costs, transport network, digital communications, availability of education and healthcare provision. In the new ecosystem of work, we need to understand the infrastructure around employees’ home and work environment so we can identify risks in the skills supply chain. Being able to compare your location infrastructure with that of competitors will help inform decision making. How does your organisational infrastructure measure up in terms of being socially responsible, commercial or environmentally conscious? These elements need to be addressed as one if companies are to make a positive impact on the places and people where they operate.
9. Economic Health
Personal health and economic health will move up the agenda for talent strategy and for continuity planning. Economic health is a measure of resilience and therefore preparedness for recovery. In the future, business resilience planning will include factors that influence skills supply chain risk as gaps here have been exposed during the pandemic. This means looking at the health of whole locations and populations, for example new health measures, quarantine efficiency, disease monitoring and detection, health readiness, and government efficiency in dealing with health crises.
10. Workforce wellbeing
Wellbeing is influenced by the working practices we create as an organisation. By giving consideration to the commute, the working environment, and provision of local services we can positively influence the wellbeing of our workforce. This information can be paired with data on healthcare provision and access to healthcare in a given location as work may not even be a workplace - it might be a digital hub, a flexible working hub or an employee’s home. Understanding perceptions of your organisation as an employer can help to guide improvements in the wellbeing of employees.
Building busines resilience through people
There is a huge opportunity to use the events of the last 16 months as a springboard to improve organisational resilience for the long term. Central to this re-think is understanding how work could be done better in future by; first of all, piecing locations together effectively using new factors that determine successful location. Secondly, we can rethink talent and location strategy so that talent strategy guides and informs location strategy and informs policies that support remote working anywhere.
To see a demo of Stratigens and how we can help you piece together people, locations and skills, book a demo today: