How will work patterns change once Coronavirus restrictions have eased?

When working life resumes properly once Coronavirus restrictions have eased people may find that their work patterns are substantially different from previously.

While, sadly, some SMEs will not have survived others may find that their agility and perhaps new innovations introduced during lockdown will have given their businesses a new lease of life for the future.

Those who have shown consideration for their employees, suppliers and customers will have built up a level of goodwill that will stand them in good stead for the future.

I shall examine in another blog those businesses, sectors and processes that may benefit from the changed landscape but in this blog I am focusing on the likely changes to business work patterns and the relationships between employers and their stakeholders.

Because, of course, employers are also people, they will have discovered that they and their families are no more immune to the health risks of the pandemic than any of their employees.

This may well...

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How to manage an efficient online conference

As we all adjust to the new realities of working remotely while we self-isolate during the Coronavirus pandemic, we still need to maintain contact with staff, clients, suppliers and others where online conference calls and video meetings are proving much better than the phone.

But how do you avoid an online conference descending into anarchy with people talking over each other?

There are some simple rules that are not so different from those we adopt during face-to-face meetings.

One of the meeting platforms that is becoming increasingly popular during the pandemic has been Zoom, but there are plenty of others such as Microsoft Teams, Skype for Business and even WhatsApp. Security is an issue and all are constantly improving their security measures following concerns about uninvited intruders, in particular for Zoom which seems to have become the most popular platform.

It is important that the chair should host (convene) and be familiar with the technology since each platform has...

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In a crisis it is crucial that SMEs keep staff updated, especially those working at home

In the current Coronavirus-induced crisis people are understandably worried and frightened, for their jobs, their families and their health so it is crucial for SME employers to communicate changes as quickly and sympathetically as possible.

After all, while you as SME owners are currently facing unprecedented challenges to your business and feeling bleak if not panic ridden about your prospects for survival, at some point this crisis will come to an end and you will hope to still have a business.

With all the financial support measures recently announced by the Government, most SMEs do not need to close their businesses or dispense with staff.

I have posted the latest information with advice for SMEs on how to deal with the coronavirus pandemic on onlineturnaroundguru.com and will update as the details become clearer.

While in the short term SMEs may have had to ‘furlough workers’ (see the above advice link for what this means) but eventually staff will be needed back...

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Using the Pareto 80/20 Rule as a guide in your business

Many people in business are familiar with the Pareto 80/20 Rule, particularly the idea that 80% of their business comes from just 20% of customers or clients, or that 80% of their profits comes from 20% of orders, or that 80% of their profits come from 20% of products, or even that 80% of their sales are generated by 20% of their sales staff.

Understanding this can influence behaviour such as protecting the 20% that contribute the most or looking at how to improve the lower performing 80%.

Essentially the Pareto 80/20 Rule is simply a way of demonstrating that most things in life are not distributed evenly.

This can apply to everything but focuses on considering productivity as an output of time spent or as a return on investment. It looks at resources, in terms of people, time and cost with a view to optimising the output. Analysis of turnover and profits by customer, market segment and products to produce a pie chart is likely to highlight aspects of the Rule.

The 80/20 Rule...

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Employing millennials should not be a problem

Employing millennials should not be seen as a problem but according to some reports in the business press many employers would prefer not to.

The reasons given range from this generation having a poorer grasp of language to being less loyal than older workers, and allegedly having higher absence rates.

Quite apart from the fact that age discrimination is outlawed under equal opportunities legislation, millennials (the generation born between 1980 and 2000) now make up the bulk of the workforce.

While it would be fair to say that employing millennials means bosses need to understand that this age group may view their careers rather differently from previous generations, it is also true that each generation comes with skills and attitudes that are a benefit to their employers. It is also true for many employers that they are customers who need to be understood.

Approximately 10 years ago PwC produced a report that focused on the millennial generation, examining their career...

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Emotional Honesty at work – mutual respect turns a negative into a positive

There are many situations in our working life that have the potential to damage relationships with colleagues and managers and it takes emotional honesty to confront them.

Disagreements are inevitable especially where individuals are ambitious and want the best for the business and its goals. There are often many solutions to problems and teams need to learn how to share differing ideas without disagreements being seen as confrontation and in particular avoiding individuals being afraid of others in such a way that they don’t contribute.

Team decision making doesn’t necessarily mean agreement but is should be positive, especially when the team is needed to implement the decision. Sophisticated teams may explore decision making as a form of idea meritocracy by considering the knowledge and expertise of each contributor rather than team democracy where everyone is equal, or worse, where overconfident individuals, bullies or HiPPOs (Highest Paid Person’s Opinion) make...

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Purpose oriented leadership gives employees a reason to be engaged

employees productivity Dec 17, 2019

Performing tasks to order is not enough to motivate 21st Century employees and instead they need purpose oriented leadership to understand the “why” of their organisation.

The purpose needs to be defined and made meaningful in a way that simply stating “making a profit” or “increasing sales” do not.

Generally, workers will perform more effectively if they believe in what their company is doing and how it is contributing to the common social good. This has been described as having a higher-oriented purpose. 

But this means that the most successful leaders need to be able to communicate their vision and to have good narrative skills in order to do so.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos, for example, has banned PowerPoint in executive meetings. Instead, he believes that “narrative structure” is more effective because human brains are wired to respond to storytelling.

good example of effective purpose oriented...

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Fair treatment of employees is a cornerstone for improving productivity

Improving productivity is a concern for all businesses but it is harder to achieve if employees do not believe they are receiving fair treatment.

As I have said in many previous blogs, a motivated workforce is more likely to go the extra mile if they feel valued as people, this means managers treating them with respect, listening to them, showing consideration to them, recognising their contribution, rewarding their contribution and protecting them from inappropriate behaviour by others at work. In summary treating them with respect and showing them that their effort is valued.

Recognition can simply be saying “thank you” for a job well done, it is not just about money.

However, money can become an issue when there is a clear disparity in pay. While discrimination is illegal and applies to any disparity of remuneration on grounds of gender, race, religion or ethnicity, this is not about legislating for staff motivation.

To be motivated staff need to feel they are treated...

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Diversity of thought is about more than challenging stereotypes and ticking a box

Too often the word diversity as applied to directors of companies is seen as demonstrating representation by gender, ethnicity, religion, and possibly of age. But it should actually be about more than that, it should also be about diversity of thought and ideas.

The challenges facing businesses in the 21st Century are becoming more complex and happening at a faster pace so it makes sense to have people at board level who think differently and can communicate their ideas.

In a recent survey carried out by Social Mobility Pledge as reported by The Times newspaper, the researchers found that by and large “who you know” was still the most important factor when promoting staff.

Sadly, the inference from this is that recruitment tends to favour like-minded people, which is hardly helpful to businesses wanting to avoid being stuck in a rut.

The ability to challenge the status quo at all levels and in particular a board level was a topic discussed in a recent vimeo by Kenneth...

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WeWork reminds us why we should not rely on charismatic leaders and the investment bank advisers who flatter them

This week the new management of WeWork the business space property rental company announced that it was preparing to axe 2,000, or 13%, of its workforce.

It has been calculated that up to 5,000, or a third, of the workforce will ultimately have to go.

This is the latest episode in an increasingly sorry saga, which last month saw its co-founder Adam Neumann step down as chief executive and relinquish control over the company. Mr Neumann also returned $5.9m worth of stock to the firm, which he had controversially received in exchange for his claim over the “We” trademark.

After announcing its intention to launch on the US stock market earlier in the year, the company, which has more than 500 locations in 29 countries, had to postpone its plans when its viability and corporate governance came under closer scrutiny.

The business, which was estimated to be worth some $47bn when the intended float was first unveiled has since had its credit rating downgraded by...

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