COVID-19 has impacted just about every industry.
Many companies have lost customers, gone fully remote with their employees, and some have even gone out of business. We are living through a period that holds more questions than answers.
To help everyone stay a little more informed, we’ve contacted the health and safety managers we work with to hear what they’re doing to navigate the growing crisis, as well as to ask for tips they’re using to keep their teams healthy and productive during this uncertain time.
Here’s what health and safety managers across the UK are noticing about their organisations and doing for their teams during COVID-19.
1. Coordination challenges because of social distancing
Social distancing has impacted internal communications across UK companies. Many employees are working from home for the first time, relying on chat, video conferencing, and phone calls to perform duties that were historically accomplished in person.
While many remote workers know how to use basic digital communication tools, there are still coordination and collaboration details that slip through the cracks.
Moving from daily, in-person communication to fully remote interactions is challenging. At the very least, a team has to relearn how it communicates and collaborates. Without the right communication structure in place, people can miss deadlines, overlook responsibilities, or not properly delegate or ask for help.
Broken communication is also one of the fastest ways to drive team-wide stress, which results in even larger communication problems to navigate.
2. Business continuity plans were outdated or ineffective in the current environment
Meticulous health and safety teams have collectively been caught off guard by many of the challenges of COVID-19. The experience has proved how ineffective long-standing continuity plans really are when a company is faced with a unique and unprecedented crisis.
The situation has inspired many health and safety managers to begin rewriting their continuity plans from scratch, informed by COVID-19 to protect their organisation against future disasters.
3. Chance to work on those projects you keep putting off
On a positive note, many companies and individuals see opportunity in COVID-19. The massive economic and health setback is inspiring people to tackle projects and achieve goals they had previously put off.
Many of the health and safety professionals we spoke with mentioned that their organizations were doubling down on big projects or tackling big goals they had put off doing.
On a personal level, employees are returning to old hobbies, discovering new ones, and even learning new skills in their spare time. Social distancing may turn out to be a powerful renaissance.
4. Increased need for health and safety equipment
At the same time that businesses are stalling many major decisions, they’re also suddenly investing in equipment to keep their employees healthy and safe. This includes purchasing digital software that allows employees to work from home, leasing lone worker alarms so employees can quickly call for help, purchasing sanitation wipes for employees making deliveries or using machinery, and even providing safety masks for employees whose jobs require them to be in public spaces.
The professionals we spoke to saw it as their highest priority to keep their teams healthy and safe. This includes investing in resources and equipment that allows employees to continue work as usual.
5. Preparing for the unexpected
As mentioned above, some companies have stopped many core operations to wait out COVID-19. Others are preparing their employees to work from home indefinitely, issuing software and remote working policies to increase employee safety and effectiveness.