As lockdown measures begin to ease, Ipek Kaymak considers how organisations can plan for the “new normal.”
The impact of Covid-19 has tested the resilience of UK infrastructure companies through decreased revenue and straining of already tight resources. Now, as the lockdown measures ease, how can the sector continue to meet customer demand?
It’s during this phase of recovery that the sector needs to plan for a more flexible way of operating to account for the uncertainty that lies ahead. Without an effective business continuity plan, incorporating regular engagement with workforce and supply chains to capture lessons learned, there is a danger that organisations will exceed budgets and fail to meet regulatory targets.
Below are some elements for infrastructure organisations to consider incorporating as part of business continuity and overall strategic planning to prevail against the ‘new normal’.
The UK government has recently indicated that social distancing will remain for some time. With fewer people outside, utilities responding to emergency works have found it easier to maintain social distancing. But how will they adapt once more people are out on the streets?
Increasing investment in technology, enabling certain maintenance and repair tasks to be carried out remotely, can help to avoid putting people at risk. As construction activities continue to accelerate, more innovative solutions such as modular construction could help reduce time on site.
This is the time to review business strategies and asset management plans against various recovery scenarios to ensure they are still fit-for-purpose.
Even as the government allows people to return to offices, employees are likely to be reluctant to enter public spaces without assurance that their safety has been considered. Increased cleaning and a people first mentality need to be established to help reassure staff that their safety has been prioritised.
Staff will need clear guidance with appropriate training on new ways of working, including interacting with colleagues and customers without breaking social distancing measures.
Organisations may further consider enhancing remote working capabilities by creating and embedding a formal ‘flexible working culture’, promoting virtual collaboration and empathetic engagement. To successfully establish workforce safety, it’s important to consider areas of greatest risk within the workplace, engage staff in deciding mitigation measures and effectively communicate your approach.
One of the government conditions for recovery is around increased, wide-spread testing and tracing of the virus. Whilst the detailed workings of the system are still unclear, people are likely to have to respond quickly to infection notifications, disrupting work continuity.
Companies can prepare for potential disruption by establishing clear responsibilities, opportunities for shared work and creating contingency plans for critical works. Business continuity plans should clearly dictate what a staff member must do if they are contacted.
In the short-term, following these steps will be critical to combat against uncertainty. In the long-term, regulated infrastructure organisations that can mitigate against climate change, build more sustainable integrated systems, and successfully embed change stand to profit the most.
Ultimately, the positive actions taken now will provide greatest benefit for the uncertainty ahead.
Ipek Kaymak is a business transformation consultant at Arcadis.