“ The 1970 World Cup in Mexico was played in ferocious heat. The West German team quickly adapted their game. They noted some relief was offered by the shadow provided by the grandstand, the players learned how, by smart passing and movement, they could manipulate the game to be played in the shade. External factors can encourage change.” Jonathan Wilson sports writer.
The business equivalent in a pandemic is to move away from the obsession with efficiency/cost cutting. In reality this has been about expecting people to work harder-longer hours, lower pay, fewer paid holidays, less job security and aggressive absence management polices.
Like the West German football team the goal is to work smarter and not harder. To be smarter involves being creative and innovative which in turn requires an investment in skills, empowering and valuing employees. The method is to foster a positive work environment, with the best terms and conditions of employment and a recognition of the need to balance work with family life.
This will be anathema to many boardrooms where the view persists that the British workforce is one of the most work shy in Europe and compares unfavourably to its American counter parts. There is no evidence for this. These are often the same boardrooms that adopt a philosophy that anything is legitimate if you can get away with it. Whether that is finding ways of avoiding paying taxes, getting around the minimum wage or flouting health and safety regulations. The tone is set from the top and if the board has a disregard for employees and views them as a commodity to be exploited then this is an organisation that is stuck in the people need to work harder mentality.
The Pandemic is showing progressive businesses that are open to seeing it that employees can be trusted to work with out constant supervision, that managers can come up with creative and innovate solutions, that employees can be very flexible if the environment encourages this, that the organisation doesn’t want people coming into work who may be infectious, that failing to provide employees with the proper equipment to ensure their safety is counter productive, that the mental well-being of employees can not be neglected and that helping employees and managers achieve a health balance between work and family is part of a good employers role.