James Pinchbeck, Partner at Streets Chartered Accountants, considers the requirement for a post-pandemic ‘roadmap’ for one’s business.
The Government outlined its roadmap because of its cautious but irreversible easing of lockdown on 22 February. In the Budget the Chancellor, Rishi Sunak, announced numerous measures aimed at supporting businesses, such as the self-employed, over the coming months once we start our journey to the long-awaited re-opening of many businesses. All of which, it is hoped, will see an upturn throughout the economy, perhaps one which is though heavily reliant on pent up demand and a surge in consumer spending.
The end of Lockdown 3 appears to be in sight, especially with the vaccination programme gaining such pace, and hopefully with there not a sequel, Lockdown 4! For those in business though the year from the pandemic has taken its toll, with the most resilient feeling perhaps a little ‘battle weary’, even fatigued. Whilst some businesses, perhaps few and far between, may have traded through unscathed, most will be looking at some return to normal in order to adapt to the new norm.
Therein lies the challenge. Existing in the here and now might have seen us through but coming out the other side invariably will require an agenda and some course of action. Perhaps a ‘roadmap’ for clients are needed.
The fear is, though, that lots of don’t have a roadmap in terms of a destination or feeling of journey for their business, and perhaps even an understanding as to what is needed to take them on that journey. The start must, then, work out perhaps whether the destination is equivalent to it was before the pandemic. You never know, it may be the case that the choice of destination is not the same for those and that there is a need to gain a collective position and buy in of the same.
It then follows on that you will have to consider how you are going to get there. Whilst in terms of travel the choice of transport and its appropriateness needs to be considered, so too then does the model or choice of ‘vehicle’ for the business. Many, if not all, businesses have experienced varying degrees of change regarding the how, where, when and who's involved in delivering and making business happen. Adversity and the need to respond to the situation continues to be instrumental in driving organisational change, which is likely to affect or impact on the roles in businesses for years to come. In particular there has been an increase in vacancies for Chief Technical Officers, software developers, marketeers with digital skills and Directors and Non-Executive Directors who are able to bring fresh, imaginative commercial ideas, along with good governance to the Board.
In looking at whatever model or structure of the business is fit for the new order, consideration has to be given to the need for everything from a refresh to an overhaul, whether it’s the need for investment in process, practices or people, all will need some thought. When it comes to people, many business leaders have highlighted concerns about the wellbeing and mental health of the staff during the pandemic, especially those furloughed but as importantly those who have worked through. Much like our school children returning to school, consideration needs to be given to the impact of the lockdown on retention of skills along with the challenges of returning to the workplace.
No doubt the road to recovery will be a bumpy one with challenges along the way. It is therefore vital that businesses get ready for this, looking at how it may not only manage but perhaps predict such challenges. Few, if any, would have had a pandemic on their organisational risk register, that is even if they had one pre-March 2021. The necessity also to build resilience and perhaps compassion will be essential as a part of a smooth direction of travel.
It is tough to say and it would be naïve to try and guess when we might begin to feel upbeat in broad business terms. It will though be important for all stakeholders within our businesses to have a sense of achievement and fulfilment along the journey to recovery. A meaningful response to the ‘are we nearly there yet?’ even before we have left the drive may well be a bit much to address, however, many form of recognition as to progress along the route map is bound to benefit all. On coming to your destination don’t forget to share in the sense of arrival and success too.