The New ‘Normal’ by Mike Hurst

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There has been much written about the current increase in home working as a result of the global Covid-19 pandemic and whilst for many companies this is not an option, for others the available technology and technically literate staff has meant that, whilst it may not be ‘business as usual’, business is at least continuing.  Another change has been the increase in respect and recognition our healthcare professionals have received and the degree to which this has been extended to the blue light services, frontline security personnel and the public sector who are providing invaluable Key services.  Whilst the cynic in me fears that once we return eventually to normal lives some of these attitudes and practices will also return to pre-pandemic ways, the optimist part hopes that we may be establishing some new heuristics.

As someone who speaks on a regular basis to other security, risk and business continuity professionals, I am both interested and pleased to hear that their internal conversations have moved from the “is our BC plan up to the job and let’s implement it?” to the “how do we transition out of this?” phase.  Alongside these vital operational concerns, organizations are looking at how they need to adapt their strategies to consider what has happened, and look ahead as to how they will take on the challenges presented, to survive and thrive.

Clearly, companies which usually normally have staff working from offices will be reviewing their practices to see how working from home has affected business and what new practices they need to keep and what old ones they need to return to.  These reviews will no doubt encompass effects on productivity and effectiveness, interaction between teams and team members and hopefully any potential welfare and psychological issues that working remotely may have caused or be causing.  Many companies, I know, will also be looking at their physical estate to ascertain whether it is all needed or whether having people working remotely, means that the enterprise can reduce costs by maintaining smaller offices, utilising more hot desking and having staff working in the office less frequently.  This could save money, for example people will be paying less to commute (rail fares continue to rise above inflation), but costs may increase as people need to have more office equipment at home in order to work effectively, different insurance policies and better physical security. This could also mean less congested public transport, fewer emissions, a better work life balance and potentially, more efficient and profitable organizations.  I am not here going to address the issues regarding information security, home networks, VPNs, use of private email addresses and computers, sharing files, encryption, physical security of employees who decide to work perhaps in a local coffee shop or business centre, but these and many other points do need to be considered.

This is not to say that there are no pitfalls in home working.  Management will need to adapt to this new climate in the way they interact with, monitor and motivate teams of people, who are more used to working as a team in the same location.   Will they miss the water cooler moments, chatting about the game last night, what they did at the weekend and who did what, with whom in Love Island?

This will mean, more than ever, that getting the best people to work for you is vital.  Historically, when recruiting for a new member of staff, many companies would have prioritised someone with directly relevant experience, which is not an unreasonable approach to take and is still important. However, changes in the workplace and workforce mean that aptitude and transferable skills are becoming the key to ensuring your teams’ effectiveness.

Companies and through them, recruiters, are being asked to consider:

  • Attitude
  • Ambition
  • Diversity of personnel
  • Diversity of thought
  • Core values that match the company’s own
  • Flexibility and
  • Adaptability

Employers willingly or unwillingly are spending more time looking at:

  • People Management and Development
  • Mentoring
  • Growing and developing skills to
    • Prevent employees stagnating
    • Maintain performance
    • Retain Colleagues
  • Developing Intrapreneurs….

Partly, this will be because looking after your people is clearly the right thing to do, and partly because the company succeeds if its people succeed.

The Recruitment & Employment Confederation, reports in its recent blog that “Over a third of recruitment business leaders who’ve taken part in our COVID-19 webinars consistently said they are very confident that the economy and their business will bounce back post-COVID-19 – a steady confidence level we’ve been observing for the past five weeks.”  Recruitment professionals are working with companies now, to meet the challenges of both the changing workplace, and recruiting in the post COVID-19 landscape, and we are having these discussions with clients old and new, so please get in touch to discuss future recruiting strategies.

                                                                                                                                         Mike Hurstmike@hja.co.uk

Mike is Secretary of theASIS International Professional Development Council and was, for 10 years, the Vice Chair of the UK Chapter.  He has almost 30 years of security recruitment experience and is Director of HJA Consulting www.hja.co.uk and co-founder of www.AllSecurityEvents.com