Business as usual - Covid-19 response

  • June 17, 2020

Now, more than any time in our recent history, we will be judged by our capacity for compassion.

Our ability to come through this won’t just be down to what government or business can do, but by the individual acts of kindness we show one another. Rishi Sunak, Chancellor

Business as Usual? Not really, but technology and unprecedented government intervention never seen in any of our lifetimes is mitigating the losses already.

As the sheer impact of coronavirus impact, plus the sacrifices we were all going to make to beat this invisible threat dawned, there was a real sense of rising collective panic last week. Then there was a collective National sigh of relief with Rishi Sunak’s announcement of a raft of measure to keep the economic heart of the country still pumping.  Even the most cynical or pessimistic of individuals would have been affected by his powerful words, calling for us all to come together in surviving this health crisis and retain our economic strength, with a startling level of emotional connection.

When this is over, and it will be over, we want to look back at this moment and remember the many small acts of kindness done by us and to us. We want to look back this time and remember how we thought first of others and acted with decency.

We want to look back on this time and remember how, in the face of a generation-defining moment, we undertook a collective national effort - and we stood together.

Perhaps Rishi was speaking to business leaders across the country to not make any snap decisions, but ultimately organisations all over the world now experiencing extreme disruption to their operations. Globally, we have combated health issues before, most notably Swine Flu and SARs, but never before have we seen this type of scale, exasperated very much by the increased globalisation of the economic world. We are all so intrinsically connected by business across continents, that this is not a one country issue, but a world crisis which we need to combat together and as one. It is in no doubt during these extraordinary and unprecedented times, that there are massive challenges to everyone’s lives, both professionally and personally. Whilst we all do our bit by staying and working at home, so that we can return as soon as possible, business will continue. The rapid advances in technology have been crucial in preventing the pandemic from causing more serious damage to the way in which the financial and recruitment sector continue; where remote working and cloud based software is enabling firms across the country to offer a service to their clients. Certainly face to face meetings and interviews are not possible, but working from home is an opportunity to focus on on-going strategy, assess your recruitment plans recruitment and conduct video or phone interviews. Organisations need to have a robust, rigorous and disciplined business continuity plan in place to enable the entire workforce, where possible, to work remotely and securely, while ensuring that business continuity is maintained, entirely independent of the office. The virus’s impact will of course affect hiring efforts, however companies will be leaning on accountants during this really challenging time, so the sector will still see buoyancy, as will certain sectors such as food retail and delivery as everyone moves towards. The effect on the recruitment will be very sector specific

For those continuing to recruit, there will be increases of virtual methods for the assessment and selection of candidates. But while digital-only recruitment methods could help reduce time to hire, they must be used in the right way so applicants weren’t put at a disadvantage. But there is still hope for the recruitment industry, as many employers will continue to hire for essential roles, and some sectors – such as health and social care and logistics – are already recruiting more workers.

It will also be welcomed new that the Government has delayed controversial IR35 reform by one year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. This means that contractors will continue to decide their IR35 status for another 12 months when working in the private sector.

The global pandemic could also change the way employers hire for the better, Pawel Adrjan, head of EMEA research at Indeed. The move from in-person to virtual recruitment, and the widespread use of home working during the outbreak, could be a positive step-change for some, he said.

“We know from our own research that jobseekers are increasingly looking for flexible work, including the option to work from home, and even before the outbreak employers were increasingly offering flexible-working options,” he said. “With people across the world being advised or required to work from home, it will be interesting to see if this trend continues after the pandemic is quelled.”

This business agility is key for hiring professionals – keep calm and focus on finding alternative ways of working to ensure business continuity throughout the coming months.