Executives from a range of businesses including Slack, Fiverr, Asana, Hastee, Disciple and Procore discuss how to meet the 'new normal' head on
It has become increasingly apparent over the past few weeks and months that companies and their employees will need to adjust to a permanent shift in the way they operate on a daily basis – a phenomenon that has been dubbed the ‘new normal’ for businesses.
With hybrid working – combining remote work with office work – expected to become commonplace, businesses are having to find new ways to navigate this while also keeping their workforce and themselves connected and safe.
Here are a selection of tips from several industry leaders on how companies can move forwards and not only survive, but thrive, under these challenging circumstances.
How can businesses survive and thrive during the ‘new normal’?
Stuart Templeton, Slack
“In recent months, we have seen a re-invention of the office,” says Stuart Templeton, head of UK at communication platform provider Slack.
“With our recent survey finding that fewer than 12% of knowledge workers want to return to working full-time in the office, it is no surprise that many businesses are now adopting hybrid working. The office is no longer a ‘golden standard’ – in fact, it has become a less productive way to work for many, now that the pandemic has given rise to remote working.
“This is a cultural change that businesses must navigate by investing time and money into the right resources dedicated to helping their employees work smarter – wherever they want. So what should businesses look to moving forwards?
“It all comes down to adopting a centralised hub which houses all discussions and documents in one place while also integrating with other tools. The best hubs should also allow workers to communicate externally with clients and stakeholders, eliminating the need for countless emails or meetings.
“By having one platform acting as a single source of truth, businesses can streamline their workflows and nurture a more collaborative and transparent culture – both of which are crucial for successfully working in a more hybrid way.”
Joshua Zerkel, Asana
“There is a lot of rhetoric around work at the moment,” says US work management company Asana’s Certified Professional Organiser and Head of Global Engagement Marketing Joshua Zerkel.
“Lately, I’ve resolved myself to the fact that work is so omnipresent that it can feel like you’re not working from home, but instead that you are living at work. With the lines between home and work life becoming increasingly blurred it’s critical that you are able to separate the two. To move forward in this new normal, take the time to review how you keep your team connected and aligned – this is critical to employee happiness and business success.
“In the world of distributed work, employees need to take the time to switch-off in the evenings and weekends and your company culture needs to support this. Establish a safe environment where those tackling child care alongside balancing their work can share their worries around how this is impacting their work. With a supportive company, culture employees are empowered to thrive at work.
“Companies looking to define the new working normal of dispersed teams also need to provide clear goals for individuals, teams and the company as a whole. By providing this clarity across the organisation, everyone is able to understand how their work ladders up to company-wide goals providing purpose and direction in their work.
“Now is the time for business leaders to establish the best methods for supporting employee engagement and business success – be sure to make these changes or risk being left behind in the new world of work.”
Benji Vaughan, Disciple
“As businesses look to navigate through uncertainty, the rapid macroeconomic changes force them to reevaluate how they stay connected with their team, customers and other key stakeholders,” says Benji Vaughan, founder and CEO of London-based software company Disciple.
“Digital integration and transformation have significantly accelerated during this time as businesses fight to keep their operations moving. Connectivity is central to business continuity and teamship. Now, more than ever, we’re relying on each other’s support and the value of community is emphasised. It’s a time to explore new technologies that can support business growth.
“Maintaining customer relationships is essential to prosperity in this new world. As priorities are shifting, businesses need to understand how customer needs are changing and having the platform to stay connected allows them to unlock these key insights. Businesses should focus on the shared passion that originally captured their interest and build on that to maintain and enhance their community.
“Brands that centre their activity around their passion are the ones that have a strong community of customers. Having a community improves transparency and brands can therefore evolve with their customer base. Going digital is the most effective way to unlock the full value of their community and improve engagement.”
Liron Smadja, Fiverr
“The main challenge facing most business leaders during these uncertain times is that the landscape is so unpredictable,” says Liron Smadja, director of global expansion marketing at Israeli online marketplace Fiverr.
“It’s hard for a senior decision-maker to plan ahead in terms of staffing and resources if they simply don’t know when – or to what degree – the economy is going to open up again. So, it’s crucial businesses keep an agile mindset and expect the unexpected. In practice, this means taking concrete steps to insulate their people and operations against the volatile commercial environment.
“This might be taking out subscriptions on software that enables home working, setting up regular digital check-ins with staff who are unable to make it to the office or making use of online freelance talent to ramp up and down quickly according to the unpredictable volume of work.
“This is easily done on digital platforms – where hiring a niche freelancer is simple and fast. Whether it’s a smart new digital marketing campaign, or help with a last-minute web design project, it’s now easier than ever to find an expert who can do exactly what you need them to do, without the hassle associated with hiring traditional freelancers.”
James Herbert, Hastee
“One of the most challenging aspects of Covid-19 has been the adverse effects on people’s personal finances,” says James Herbert, CEO and founder of Hastee – a smartphone app that provides employee benefits.
“We undertook research recently that found 41% of workers are now relying on a new loan, credit card or overdraft as a means to get by. However, this needn’t be the case; a growing proportion say that this could be avoided, with 59% of respondents stating that greater flexibility over how they access their monthly salary would decrease their reliance on high-cost credit options.
“The current climate has shed light on the issue of financial liquidity for workers, but it’s a problem that precedes the pandemic. Earnings-on-demand technology can be a real game-changer as it allows early access to funds which can help with unforeseen challenges and expenses.
“While a frequently overlooked area of workplace wellbeing, employers who have onboarded such tools for staff report reduced sickness, greater productivity and increased retention.”
Brandon Oliveri-O’Connor, Procore
“The pandemic has resulted in a disrupted economy and widespread hardship, but in the world of work, this crisis has acted as a catalyst for digital transformation,” says construction project management software firm Procore’s UK&I director Brandon Oliveri-O’Connor.
“The increased adoption of technologies during this time has enabled certain sectors and its companies to overcome various challenges and in-turn future proof their business. Construction, which is often labelled a slow-moving sector, has celebrated various companies which have been among the quickest to adapt to these new circumstances – despite the majority of its work being conducted on-site. With this sector demonstrating the benefits of digitalisation, what can businesses in other industries learn from this example?
“In construction, platform technology has played a vital role in maintaining on-site work in a socially distanced, yet productive manner. This integrated technology has given businesses access to a single source of truth, by allowing its users to store information in one place and share it with relevant people on and off-site, ensuring safety and transparency are maintained throughout the process.
“While this use of platform technology may be specific to the construction industry, its benefits are universal. With the reality of dispersed teams becoming the norm, it is vital for businesses in every sector to seek out the right technology to help overcome whatever tomorrow brings.”