Over recent weeks we have become all too familiar with particular words and phrases - “unprecedented times”, “unchartered territory” and “the science” to name three of them. Social distancing has been the order of the day for weeks and will be with us, to some degree, for the foreseeable future. Peter Taylor, managing partner, Paris Smith LLP asks: “How will this impact on business?”.
In this article I share my thoughts on this subject and the three pillars of performance by which businesses will be measured in the future.
We are now entering a world of commerce in which distancing and reduced direct contact will impact our businesses. Let’s not kid ourselves, we won’t be returning to the way we went about our work and business prior to the onset of COVID-19. So, where have we been focusing our client support and where will we continue to do so over the coming weeks?
There are a number of questions to consider for your team and the workplace. Social distancing will apply in the workplace and, as such, your staff will need and want to feel safe. When people feel safe, the brain chemical oxytocin is released and this means that staff are more likely to trust the leadership team. Trust is a pre-requisite for performance and productivity. So it’s important to ensure the environment is clean and that physical distancing is maintained.
Other crucial questions which we have asked Boards to consider:
Are you clear what your purpose is as a business? (the answer is not to make money – that is the product of how you do what you do) Is it still the same as it was at the start of the year?
Supply chains have been placed under strain. From the moment it was announced that that there was a serious outbreak of the virus in Wuhan province, a centre for the production of automotive products, the supply chain for many businesses in the UK and globally came under strain. The globalisation of the supply chain and ‘just in time’ model has been proved to be flawed.
In reviewing the elements of supply chain arrangements, consideration should be given to the following:
Habits have been formed over recent weeks, many of which will continue. It takes 21 days to form a habit; I’m sure that many of us have realised that much of what we’ve been doing during the lockdown has been positive and we have seen benefits from it. People have increased their on-line shopping and there has been a surge in viewing of online video content. Social distancing in some measure will be with us for months until a vaccine is developed and manufactured in sufficient quantities. Accordingly, we know that for the foreseeable future consumers will act differently. Businesses will need to adapt how they engage with clients and customers to reflect this changing behaviour:
There will be three pillars by which the success of businesses will be measured in the future. To date the key and, in some cases, sole measure of success for business has been profit. That is no longer valid. What this experience has taught us is that there will be two other pillars of success. They are people and the planet. How businesses treat, engage with and make a positive difference to human beings will be valued. It’s vital to invest in the development and careers of your employees. How businesses care for the environment will take on greater relevance. Support your communities and show you care about the world around us. The clearer air, the loss of smog in cities across the world show what can be achieved, and businesses should each play their part in creating an enduring legacy to this issue. Technology can and will play a key part in this aspect. These three “P”s of People, Planet and Profit need to be at the forefront of the minds of business leaders when they consider their fourth “P”, Purpose.