We are in a period which many have said has not occurred since WWII. I’m not a historian, but having listened to my parents talk about the war, in many ways what we are entering now is even stranger than WWII, as the enemy amongst us is an unseen one.
I’m not going to write about the horrendous impact COVID-19 will have on families, nor about the impact on the economy. I want to focus on how it will impact the operational side of a business and how the Leadership Team at Burrows approached the challenge of managing through the storm.
For me, the key was regular, detailed and honest communications. As soon as it became apparent that we would be asked to work from home (we had over 90% of our people working from home a week before Boris made the announcement) we set up a weekly Zoom call with the entire company. These weekly calls had several purposes.
It gave us 30 minutes a week for us to connect. We had all experienced the isolation and fragmented living style that Managed Remote Working has caused and having an opportunity to see and hear all our work colleagues and friends really helped us to stay close.
Keeping people updated
It is a forum for us to update everyone in the business about our plans for how we work remotely, how we manage projects, how we look at phased return to the offices etc. We know that the information and plans from the UK government were sometimes limited in detail and subject to continuous change.
Explaining our decisions
For me, it was also an opportunity to explain all the decisions and actions that the Leadership Team were taking. My approach has always been to give people the full picture so that they understand our plans. I believe that if people truly understand the basis upon which decisions are made, even if they don’t like the decision, they are far more likely to be onboard. I have frequently talked to the company about how we run the business in terms of cost and revenue and this made it far easier to explain why, with falling revenues, we must reduce cost. I wanted people to feel vested in the business and to do this I needed them to know that I will always be open and honest with them.
On top of this, we also put in place weekly calls with the Leadership Team and bi-monthly calls with the team leaders. These meetings allowed the Leadership Team to agree short and medium term plans and allowed us to regularly touch base with the guys in the business who are managing day-to-day.
So what is the silver lining to this storm cloud? As we start to look at how we adjust to our new norm, I feel that we actually have a better flow of information now, than when we all sat together in one building.