In the US, the Coronavirus pandemic has had a similar impact to here in the UK. It has forced businesses to think smart and adjust how they operate. Freeing up staff to work from home has been just one of the many challenges of the business world in the coronavirus era. To get opinions on what managing it is like let’s look at the views of a Human Resources executive who didn’t want to be named. Fortunately, his anonymity provided them with the opportunity to be completely candid.
day to day
At first, he was asked how the virus had affected day to day operations. He began equivocally by stating that a major event like this brings out people’s true nature. Then he proceeded to say how some staff want to pretend there is nothing up and soldier on and then there are people on the other end of the spectrum that want to up sticks and move in with their families and hunker down and see it through. He concluded by suggesting the challenge in HR is to allow for all of those feelings while trying to keep work happening.
Following that he was asked if he had struggled with impressing on the staff that they should take it seriously. He stated that it is important not to scare people, making the analogy of being like a parent and not wanting to frighten people but pointing out the gravity of the situation.
He was then quizzed on how he thought clients cutting their spending would affect them. He’s a realist and stated it has been quite scary and used the analogy that it was a bit like a game of poker at the moment. The need to control information has been important. He said that their priority was preserving existing bodies, but was quick to point out that they did have plenty of work.
On the subject of going into work, he was asked when they planned on going back to the office. Then he said that they were all set to return to work on the 30th but he was pretty sure that wasn’t going to happen now. He pointed out that it may be a challenge when they do. He considered all of their clients may be demanding but then pointed out that a lot of them were preparing for a recession so the pressure might not be so intense but he was worried that he may have to make the heartbreaking decision to lay people off. Later he suggested that with all the worries people had over their health they don’t need to be worrying about their jobs too.
The questioning then turned to freelancers, it was suggested that they would be the first to go, but he was quick to point out that there are still a lot of freelancers they are using. He suggested that actually in this sort of situation freelancers were better than hiring a full-timer because of their inherent flexibility. The situation with coronavirus means that things change rapidly and having workers that are used to that environment is a real help.
The talk then turned to pay and whether any clients had walshed on payments yet, which they hadn’t.
He was then asked about how to ensure staff working at home were productive which he answered by saying that they were issued guidelines and how most were so happy to still be getting paid that they work hard just to try and keep their jobs. So in some ways, it has a positive impact on productivity.