I am fortunate to work with a large number of businesses in a number of sectors in my role as a Non-Executive Director. During the past two weeks, I have had the benefit of undertaking over 30 Business Surgeries for business owners – again in many sectors, including all areas of the education sector. I no longer am at the sharp end of Education but that has enabled me to stand back, observe and be more objective about the situation the sector finds itself in.
I wrote last week about planning and being positive, nothing has changed my views. I am confident that all Private Training Providers, Colleges and Third Sector Providers will get through this period of uncertainty. Through Government intervention, the financial burdens will not be felt in the main now, (accepting you have to fund furloughed employees until the Government’s systems become operational) but 2 – 3 months AFTER the support ends.
The winners in business will be those that are able to reinvent themselves, relaunch themselves and reengage their staff quickly!
I do not share the hysteria of some in the sector, indeed I’m strongly of the view this hysteria is a cause of the ESFA taking the stance they have with Private Training Providers. Financial Support is there for people to access and some simple cash flow modelling will show that in the short and medium term, decisive action will make it manageable.
The air is cleaner, the skies are quiet, our Co2 emissions have dramatically reduced (so it’s not all down to the Cows!)
So, for the future, there are 1.5 million employees across the UK working flexibly, including at home. That number has probably increased to over 10 million in the past two weeks. The resilience of business and their suppliers to work together to deliver flexible working is to be commended. Business owners delivering laptops to staff, Desk tops being moved from desks to dining room tables, spare bedrooms converted into make do offices shows our ‘can do’ attitude as a nation.
We will never ‘get back to normal’, whatever that may be:
- We won’t need large offices
- There will be no need to be travelling large distances – I have found Zoom and Microsoft Teams because I have had too
- Why do we need to drive to the office and waste time and money doing so?
- We need to work smart not hard
- But as businesses we do need to secure our data, systems and overall security
- New ways of supporting the well-being of our staff will be needed so they are not forgotten and lonely nor overlooked for promotion
Indeed, as business owners, the decisions will be taken out of our hands. Even if ½ of those now working from home decide they want to continue to do it – that’s over 4m new home workers in the next 12 months.
If we don’t respond, our staff will vote with their feet because there will be other businesses that will. We will lose our competitive edge and or best talent.
So, Home and Flexible working is for me about ‘retaining talent’, build the cost into the employment costs of your staff and examine the benefits, both cost and efficiency it will give you.
There has never been a better time to look at your business strategy over the forthcoming weeks. There is only so much lawn you can mow, or Peloton rides you can do. Home and Flexible working is not an option, it’s now if you do it, it’s how you implement it.
Without the option open to your staff many will be looking for alternative employment because they have time to think over the weeks and months ahead too.
Many within Promote-Ed have been working at home for years, even decades, and it is a smart way of working that lends itself to a flexible approach to work/life balance, but with this comes the need to understand how to ‘work’ at home, and not be at home ‘working’ all the time. We would welcome discussing initiatives with you.
Peter Marples, Co-Founder, Promote-Ed
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