Why are So Many Businesses Pivoting?
You couldn’t look anywhere without seeing the word ‘pivot’ at the beginning of the pandemic (right alongside ‘unprecedented’).
Yet, even as we move on towards life outside of lockdowns and sudden measures, businesses continue to pivot drastically.
We’re not talking about the businesses who swiftly changed their product or service offering to adapt to the changes brought on by the pandemic anymore, but instead, the businesses that have shed all aspects of the pandemic immediately as workers return to offices.
Face masks? Gone.
Remote working? Ending.
It’s as though the passage of time away from banana bread and Tiger King has left businesses eager to pivot in any direction that doesn’t involve Covid controls, whether this has been a company-wide discussion or not.
Hold your horses!
Part of what has made the transition from 2020 to 2021 so unique is the developing of habit in combination with an eagerness to return to pre-pandemic ways of working.
The polarising debate has meant the media has often presented these views as though there is one school of thought that would forcibly mask everyone up and leave them in isolation, and another school of thought that would see the world return to acting as though there isn’t a global pandemic.
Now…we all know that neither is usually the case.
For many employees, there’s equal parts excitement and apprehension about returning to office spaces – usually depending on the employer’s stance to the entire process – after so many months of working remotely.
Surely it follows that as more employees return to the office, safety measures become more vital than they were when office spaces had reduced numbers?
Adapting to circumstance
It’s no surprise that businesses took a dive into panic mode at the beginning of the pandemic, yet as the initial shock wore off, discussions began about what the future of the workplace would be.
From articles to LinkedIn posts, there were theories about everything, including the end of commuting, majority remote working and questions around the traditional notion that office working was the only productive option.
Then, of course, businesses had to contend with the fact that many of their employees found a sense of freedom in remote working due to not having to commute and more flexibility.
Other employees found remote working tedious, having difficulties around collaborative work and the incessant video calls and lack of incidental socialising that was commonplace in a physical workspace.
The moral of the story should really be that you can’t aim to please everyone, but a large number of businesses instead seem to have decided that reverting back to pre-covid conventions is best…even if their employees might not necessarily agree. I mean those organisations are paying for all that office space, right? It seems such a shame to waste it when we have employees that can just return to fill it.
It’s an opportunity for growth
One of the main issues with completely scrapping all covid safety measures is that organisations are missing out on the chance to learn lessons they can take forward to improve.
Returning to the old ways of working doesn’t make much sense with the new expectations for what a workplace is and should be – flexible, productive, agile and balanced.
The necessity of remote working proved that, in many of the sectors that had generally refuted the effectiveness of it, employees could work productively and with less presenteeism (unlike when they are being micromanaged in an office).
Primarily, employers should be asking “how can I make the return to the workplace comfortable for everyone?”, rather than “how can I get everyone back to in-person meetings, office working and not wearing masks as fast as possible?”.
Without doing so, employers run the risk of alienating employees who might feel anxious about their return to work, which inhibits the potential for a business to bounce back better than before.
What’s the rush?
Dropping covid measures so quickly might be indicative of a larger underlying issue around company culture that might value a rush to ‘normality’ above their employees mental and physical health.
The abundance of messaging around ‘Freedom Day’ may have opened the floodgates to the assumption that it is an individual responsibility, but employers are still legally bound to consider the health and safety risk of Covid.
What is equally important is opening the discussion to all employees returning to work.
Without a full consideration of people’s openness to proposed changes, a workplace can’t hope to thrive if employees are left with divisive measures that seem too sudden.
Plus, going from safety measures to dropping all Covid controls is less of a pivot and more of a nosedive, so it might be best to choose wisely.
Do you think that businesses are rushing to drop the covid controls too quickly and return to the old ways of working, or do you think that the majority of businesses will adapt positively?