If leadership in 2020 could be summed up in one word, that’s probably it. Over the last twelve months we have had to react to lockdowns and ever changing regulations, to furloughs and flexible working, and latterly to the demands of a post-Brexit world. Along the way businesses have shown themselves to be resourceful and pragmatic, finding new ways to serve customers or to enable people to work from home.
In the summer of 2020 when restrictions eased slightly the phrase on business lips was the ‘new normal.’ Now with a hard winter behind us and hope being delivered via the vaccine roll-out it is time to start looking again at a fresh shape for business in 2021.
So if 2020 was all about reacting, how can we make 2021 the year of promoting change? Can we this year truly deliver a ‘new normal’ which better meets the needs of our businesses, investors, customers and people? This is a year of opportunity. Let’s not waste it by sliding back into pre-pandemic torpidity.
Because let’s face it some of those panicked reactions have delivered pretty positive outcomes; forcing businesses to travel down pathways which they really should have explored long before. Working from home may have been as the result of a need to keep the business moving but it has delivered committed employees who appreciate the flexibility and personal wellbeing which home working brings. So much so that a YouGov report revealed that 56% of employees reported an increase in their happiness levels when working from home.
Working from home has also forced companies to review their security and internal processes; removing red tape whilst improving data protection. And working from home has also given us a glimpse into a potential world of the future in which technology actively works for people and outcomes. So maybe those changes, rushed in in response to lockdown are just the ones which forward-thinking businesses need to adopt going forward.
However, in 2021 there is a key difference. This time around there is time to really examine and scope out change. More importantly there is time to provide appropriate training for those affected by change.
For example, if home working is to remain an option then now is the time to give people the additional skills which they need to really make the most of that opportunity. So let’s help people to improve their online communications skills and give them the tools they need to be able to focus on tasks when outside the confines of the office. And equally importantly, show them how to let go of work so that they can still enjoy a separate home life.
In 2020 the ‘new normal’ was a false dawn, a time of hope rather than of actuality. In 2021 we have the chance to create something new; a true ‘new normal’ which will deliver lasting change.
Director of Elemental CoSec, a company secretarial firm. Lawyer. Triathlete.
Elemental is one of the leading corporate services firms in the UK, providing company secretarial services, administrative services, accountancy services and corporate services to a full range of clients.