Back to business – Life after furlough…

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Scott Lawrence HIGH RES

We are living in quite extraordinary times, experiencing life altering events and global change of such speed and magnitude that has never been seen by many of us before.

With more than 9 million people expected to be on the furlough scheme, HMRC reported 6.3 million jobs temporarily laid off by 800,000 companies, which is just short of a quarter of the UK workforce. With claims amounting to £8bn by 3 May, recent announcements have pledged that this support will continue.

In his address to the nation on Sunday, and again at the daily briefing on Monday, the Prime Minister outlined a road map for re-opening society.  As we move to the “Stay Alert” phase of our fight against Coronavirus, the Government has set out its plan to safeguard livelihoods but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS.

Recovery strategy

The recovery strategy can be found here: www.gov.uk/government/publications/our-plan-to-rebuild-the-UK-governments-covid-19-recovery-strategy.Step one includes a change in policy from Wednesday, such that all workers who cannot work from home should travel to work, if their work place is open.

What many believe is a confusing statement, sectors of the economy that are allowed to open include food production, manufacturing, logistics, distribution and scientific research in laboratories, with exceptions including hospitality and non-essential retail.  It remains the case that for a workplace to open, it must be safe for employees and the Government, in consultation with Industry, has produced 8 guides for different types of workplaces, accessible here: www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19.

There is no doubt that working groups in most organisations, and owner managers in smaller organisations, are intensively studying this guidance to understand how to apply untested rules and regulations to their workplace.  How do you create a safe environment against an invisible enemy?  How do you make the environment productive and economically viable?

The answer to this and many other questions like these are centred around the new ways of working, that are evolving from this crisis.  Use of technology to facilitate more home working, use of video conferencing to reduce travel and pollution, use of AI and automation in manufacturing and engineering, introduction of split shifts and one-way systems to help prevent contact etc.  The list of ideas and innovation is huge.

Having made the workplace safe, there are of course other hurdles to overcome.  How does one get to work safely?   Who minds the children?  Should a face covering be used and when?

Stay calm

Throughout this period our faith in human spirit has been reinforced by the huge amounts of goodwill we are showing to each other and the many acts of kindness.  Spotted on social media only this morning, was a chap offering his car, free of charge, to anyone local returning to work who needs to avoid public transport. Well done that chap.   This is the message intended by this article -we will get through this, stay calm, collected and sensible.  Do not be put off by the trolls and negativity that is on social media and ongoing criticisms, instead concentrate on the support and advice that is around us to help find a new way.

A final thought for those in hospitality, retail and others whose businesses and income may not be returning until August or later this year.  Many of these businesses have been innovative, managing cash, restructuring and reducing costs, finding alternative routes to market and making use of Government backed funding.

We now look to Rishi Sunak for detail of the ongoing support package for the changes to the furlough scheme to help these businesses back online at a time when it is safe for us as consumers to support them. Specifically detailing how much of that furlough cost the employer will be asked to fund and when, and how will the part time scheme work.

Business for tomorrow

Going forward, we know businesses are going to need lots of support and advice, so we are launching a #BusinessForTomorrow campaign full of insightful content from our people and wider network. By thinking about what business will be like tomorrow, the next day and so on, we can adapt and we want to be with you for that journey.

Watch out for further updates, register to receive our updates and access more resources on our dedicated COVID-19 page: https://www.hazlewoods.co.uk/responding-to-the-coronavirus

If you need our help or advice, please contact Scott Lawrence on 01242 237661 or scott.lawrence@hazlewoods.co.uk.

www.hazlewoods.co.uk