Written by Nick Gold, Managing Director of Speakers Corner

We begin the New Year full of hope, but with tighter, stricter, lockdown measures. For many it’s business as usual, for others it’s another blow as the pandemic continues to restrict our movements. Business leaders understand the economic outlook remains gloomy, but there are opportunities to be found. Nick Gold, MD of Speakers Corner, a leading UK & International speaker bureau, argues business leaders need to use this period of increased social distancing measures to protect their employees wellbeing. It’ll not only allow them to perform at the best, but it’ll bring teams closer together when we’ve never been more apart

Since the pandemic began there’s been much discussion about where we are in the lifecycle of this virus or which ‘wave’ we are in. We see both across the world and within the UK there are different wave patterns which have created contrasting restrictions even within the same square mile.

From a business perspective, the discussions on which ‘wave’ we are in seems all too often to be ignored with an overriding focus on a return to a business environment which, for historical reasons, are seen as normal and ideal. This is a comfort blanket for all of us trying to deal with the uncertainty we find ourselves in.

If we remove ourselves from the emotions caused by the new lockdown measures and focus on how the future looks and what the workplace is going to encompass, we can take some comfort that it is nothing more than a guessing game at the moment.

The business wave we are currently in, whether that be most employees working from home, a combination of environments or even just a highly regulated workplace, is one that none of us nor any business is either used to or feels entirely comfortable with. Businesses can look at this as a negative proposition but rather, with a New Year and the realisation that this hasn’t bought about some miraculous change but rather than a continuation of before, it means a mindset shift for business leaders needs to take place.

When everyone is similarly affected, both living and working in an arena of uncertainty and experiencing a step change away from familiarity, then as such, the business needs to support their employees in order to embrace this new environment. No longer should it be seen as a holding pattern before we return to a pre-pandemic world, but rather an opportunity to form a tighter bond with the employees of the company. It is a chance for the company to be delivering to their employees the support professionally and personally they need in order to both deliver to the company but also ensure they are looking after themselves in truly difficult circumstances.

From a professional standpoint, employees are adapting to their individual surroundings and circumstances resulting in the business having to embrace idiosyncrasies and the individual needs of every employees as a person, not just as a worker or a checkbox sheet on a HR list of requirements. This requires time and flexibility, but the end results for a business is an employee who has the best possible environment and support to deliver to their employer.

From a personal perspective, this attention to the individual needs of an employee is required like never before. The boundaries between work and play, between office and home, are broken. Even for those who had embraced the freelance community or had the flexibility to work from home for their employer, it is likely the circumstances are different due to their surroundings, whether that be people around them or lockdown restrictions. Therefore, while individuals are seeking support, creative thinking and open minds to help them, most importantly they are seeking understanding. From an emotional perspective, a company that can tap into this and deliver understanding will ensure their employee is in the right mindset to deliver the quality of work they seek from their teams.

But while, for any business, that deals with the immediacy and ensure the cogs keep churning in the cycle of business, the real benefit isn’t for today or the here and now, but rather it is the medium and long term. The support, flexibility and time that a company dedicates to the individuals in the company will be repaid many times over in the future. The employee will be both a happy employee who understands that the company is there for them, not just in words but also in actions.

The old adage of a happy person is a productive person rings true today as much as ever with the additional bonus of a happy employees is a passionate advocate for the company. And in this changing world we live in, one thing we know with ever more certainty, is that employees and customers want the brands and companies they work for or engage with to have values and purpose. These messages are not just in words but also in the actions and deeds that the company partake and what better way can this be demonstrated than via the stories of how the company has looked after their employees since the start of the Pandemic.

About the author

Nick Gold is the Managing Director of Speakers Corner, a leading UK & International speaker bureau with a mission to share the wisdom, experience and expertise of some of the most brilliant minds and amazing people through the power of the spoken word. In addition to this position, Nick is President of The International Association of Speaker Bureau for 2020/21. Previously Nick held the post of Chair of the European Association of Speaker Bureau and co-convention chair of the IASB conference in 2017.

By Lisa Baker, Senior Editor

Senior Editor Lisa Baker is the owner of Need to See it Publishing Group, providing contract news for business and news sites across the UK. Lisa is an experienced HR writer and commentator, editing HR publications for more than 5 years.