Business after Lockdown: Where do we go from here?

BUSINESS AFTER LOCKDOWN: Where do we go from here?

With a third of the world now in some form of government lockdown, many organisations are starting to plan for “Business after Lockdown”.

Key to business planning is understanding the timeline and triggers for an end to lock down and the recovery of both social and economic activity. Whilst clearly the government is exploring a range of options, they are less forthcoming about what they are and when they might be in place. The absence of clarity creates issues for businesses trying to navigate their way out of crisis whilst avoiding bankruptcy.

Viral Pandemic: a crisis without precedent in the modern world

The reality is that we have never had such a large-scale viral pandemic and there is no precedent on how to act. At this point, no-one can predict or guarantee how and when we in the UK will emerge from this crisis, but it is important for CEO’s and business leaders to develop multiple plans based on different scenarios that can be activated immediately as the picture becomes clearer. Planning is more important now than ever before. Many businesses have effectively been put on “life support” through the UK Governments “furloughing” scheme. Once the Government withdraws the scheme, businesses need to be ready to implement their “recovery” plans rapidly or run the risk of bankruptcy.

So far only one country has emerged from a lockdown, Wuhan in china just announced that after 11 weeks the lockdown is coming to an end. Analysts have stated that within the UK the infection rate (“R nought”) is about 2.6 pre-lockdown and will potentially go down to .62 if people comply with the rules. If R0 goes below 1 then the disease will eventually die out (assuming borders are controlled) but this would likely require the lockdown to continue for 12 weeks (in line with China).

UK Lockdown: one…two…three months

Whilst the UK government won’t speculate, the 12 weeks/3-month period seems to be a recurring theme with those who are at most risk told that they will have to remain inside for 12 weeks and the government furloughing scheme initially fixed for 3 months. Other European countries have either extended their lockdown or will be slightly relaxed the rules (though most of these countries have often had tougher restrictions than the UK).

The risk of course is that if you end the lockdown too soon, you end up where you started; exponential increases in spread, a collapsing healthcare system and a huge body count. However, this must be balanced against social unrest, non-compliance and huge economic damage. Many governments are between a rock and hard place and are placing their hope on science to find a way forward.

Whilst this weekend the UK is likely to see some positive impact from the 3 weeks spent on lockdown, it is very unlikely the government will bring the lockdown to an end and Churchill’s words Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. but it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.” are perhaps as relevant today as they were in 1942;

There are possible solutions, but many aren’t ready, and all come with many unknown variables;

  1. Vaccine – This is unlikely to be ready for 12+ months

  2. Anti-virals – Leveraging existing antivirals that could significantly reduce mortality rates and turn a deadly disease into something more akin to the flu. Whilst trials are already in progress, it is likely that it will be month or more before we know if any prove to be effective.

  3. Antigen tests: Tests that confirm if you have Covid-19 would enable the government to perform community testing and to target lockdowns on specific geographical areas. However, we will not get to 100,000 tests a day until the end of April. If new tests could be available that were “instant” (it takes at least 24 hours currently) and self-administered then restaurants/airports could open to customers who test negative at point of entry, but again this technology is not available yet.

  4. Antibody tests: These test if a person has had Covid-19. The government is actively exploring this option as it would potentially mean that those who test positive could be provided with a certificate and again able to work/visit restaurants and other establishments. However, so far, these tests are too unreliable to be distributed and we don’t yet know the degree of immunity – and how long it last for – in patients who have had Coronavirus.

All the above options have merit and potential but unfortunately uncertainty and – as of now – lack availability. Until these become real the government has limited options; a) Tweaking the lockdown in combination with additional measures (face masks mandated, 2 metre distancing in the workplace, mandatory alcohol gel stations), b) Progressive Herd Immunity (relaxing and then tightening lockdown restrictions to ensure that the NHS is not overloaded) or c) maintain the lockdown until the infection rate falls to such a low level that it can revert to its “track and trace” containment strategy.  

Survival after ‘Life Support’

Whilst there is significant uncertainty on how or when we will emerge, the above demonstrates that many businesses are likely to remain on “life support” for perhaps 3 months or more. But the critical business planning is what happens after lockdown. Many businesses are only surviving due to the governments furloughing scheme, but what happens when the government withdraw the scheme?

Suddenly the cash-flow issues that were “just under control” during lockdown will re-emerge again. For those businesses without a plan, they will be firefighting and without the cash to buy time to come up with an effective plan. Hence the essential need to plan for recovery and plan NOW.

For many businesses the headache will come with remobilisation of staff and the associated costs.
Every business is different, but key considerations are;

  1. Training – if colleagues have been furloughed for 3 months, what refresher training will they require?
  2. Depending how the recovery is achieved, there are likely to be changes made to the workplace (distancing), facilities (High Hygiene), and processes such as Certification checks (If Antigen tests used) and/or onsite testing.
  3. Staffing and Scheduling. There may be a need for redundancies, part time working, phased return or annualised hours depending on the specifics of the business. This is not a simple task and requires effective planning and scheduling. Reducing the headcount or hours requires effective re-rostering to ensure the business can still serve its customers. Annualised Hours is another popular solution. It does not reduce the salary of the employee but enables the employer to vary the hours worked over the year. This enables the employer to ramp up/down the hours as the recovery takes hold.
  4. There are many tools and technologies available which could be deployed to address these issues and enable rapid mobilisation.

HFX is a market leader in Cloud workforce management solutions with a wide range of modules including:  Time & Attendance, Flexitime, Annualised Hours, Home Worker, Access Control, Visitors’ Registration, Workforce Optimisation.

Visit our website www.hfx.co.uk or call us on 0333 447872 for more information

Touch Free Access Control

  1. Full Turnkey solution including Devices and Installation
  2. Full UK Support including onsite maintenance
  3. Supports Card/Prox or Finger Print identification.
  4. Full Mustering and Roll-call
  5. Multi-Site Capable
  6. Quick to Configure, Easy to Manage, Simple to use
  7. Option for Visitor RegistrationFlexitimeTime & Attendance
  8. Card Printing Bureau service including photo and branding.
  9. Total Support including software & hardware with UK wide engineers.
  10. Integrates with any HR solution.

In response to customer requests, we can now provide touch-free access control “push to exit” devices.
These touch-less devices help prevent the spread of infection by avoiding contact.
Our Engineers can replace your existing “push to exit” devices with touch-less easily. 

Visitor Screening

  1. Track visitors and proactively manage car park
  2. Automatic notification to host of visitor arrival
  3. Cloud and Multi-site solution
  4. Full Auditing for security
  5. Works with existing corporate ID cards or used without
  6. Full Mustering and Roll call capability
  7. Registration via Tablet, PC, Kiosk and through reception
  8. Seamless integration with Workforce Management and Access Control
  9. Card Printing Bureau service including photo and branding.

HFX’s development team has been able to accelerate the testing and release phases of EveryOneCloud’s Visitor Registration Screening Questionnaire. The Screening functionality enables companies to predetermine site visitors’ eligibility prior to turning up on-site; this a crucial element in the current climate.

HFX Data Security – Fort Knox for Mortals

HFX Data Security – Fort Knox for Mortals

At HFX, we take data security seriously. Our leading workforce management solution is hosted in the cloud for our customers, from SME to Enterprise and across many industries; all get the same high-security treatment regardless of their size.

But just how we do it and why it is secure is often unclear to many non-IT professionals, so this explainer endeavours to give you an insight into the lengths we go to…

First let’s talk about border security, when a tourist comes to the UK, they must pass through passport security before they are allowed in. This though isn’t the first security check made. Even before they get on the plane, there are often passport checks, luggage is scanned, and visa forms completed.

Our data centre is no different when someone opens a browser and points to our application, it doesn’t go straight to our servers, you are diverted first for inspection. The inspection checks your luggage (“data package”) looking for anything suspicious including your country of origin. But unlike airports, there is no queuing, this exhaustive process takes just milliseconds thanks to a huge array of servers built with a single purpose of inspecting our visitors. All this happens without you even knowing about it.

If you manage to pass through this check you will be forwarded to our actual servers, though not before going through another set of security checks (our own firewalls). Once we let you through the firewalls, we check your “data packages” again, just in case you slipped something past border security. Again, this happens seamlessly and instantly.

Assuming you get past these checks, you must provide the application credentials and naturally, all traffic is encrypted as well as data “at rest”. Each server is segmented so even if access is gained, there are bulkheads preventing anyone hopping from one server to another.

Prevention is not our only defence; All server activity is monitored to make sure no one is doing anything they shouldn’t on our servers. Anything unusual is alerted to our IT support team who will take any action required to secure the servers and the data.

Whilst the above explains the “logical” security we have in place, what about the physical security where the servers are located. Naturally, we don’t tend to reveal the physical location other than both our data centres (one is for Disaster Recovery) are located in the UK. 

In terms of logical security, I used the example of “Border Controls”, but in terms of physical security, it is like a “Prison” but more secure. Just like a prison, there are many inmates (tenants) in the datacentre who take this level of security as seriously as we do. Whilst we serve over 1,500 customers, some of our “inmates” serve millions of customers, so we are in good company (though again and for the same reason we can’t name names).

If you could locate our datacentre then you would still have a problem popping in for a look. You need to be authorised at least 24 hours in advance and by an existing “inmate”. You will also need to bring your passport as your identity will be checked.

Just to get to the building you need to get through the perimeter fence and anti-ram raid bollards. The security office itself has bulletproof glass and there are CCTV cameras everywhere monitored by the 24/7 security guards. Assuming you are allowed through by the security guard – be prepared to be searched on the way in and on the way out – there are two more security doors and mantraps with integrated access control. If you make it to our racks you will need to have previously registered your fingerprint on the biometric device to unlock the steel door on each rack.

Absolutely no-one gets in our out unless authorised and authenticated… just like a prison only a bit more secure.

Not every company may go to this degree of security, but we believe that customer data belongs to the customer and as custodian’s we take this very seriously. If you are looking for safe hands, you couldn’t be safer with your workforce management data than with HFX.

To find out more about HFX’s Cloud based workforce management solutions visit: https://www.hfx.co.uk/solutions/information/

The Shuttlebay Project Pt. 1

@theshuttlebay

If you haven’t already seen or heard about our Shuttlebay project, where have you been. In the first instalment of our Shuttlebay series we take a look at where the idea came from.

In late 2018, hfx was outgrowing its office, and needed a larger building to accommodate our colleagues. But we also wanted to create something unique for our visitors, a reception area that reflected our vision of a New World of Work and showcase our technology and the amazing skills of our colleagues.

We’d written about the impression visitors often get when they visit a company for the first time (read https://hfxworkforce.com/2018/06/27/what-are-you-really-saying-to-your-visitors/) and we wanted our visitors to have a memorable and positive experience. We’ve always done things a bit differently (see our website www.hfx.co.uk) and we wanted our physical presence to be similarly, well different.

Initially it was going to have a modern feel with functional tech, that is until one of our colleagues suggested – perhaps half in jest – that we should have swooshing doors just like the ones in the popular Sci-Fi franchise Star Trek. That comment literally overturned months of previous design work and began our Shuttlebay project.

Some suggested we just record some noise and play it with electric doors, but that would be cheating. We resolved to do the real thing, pneumatic powered sliding doors…Not something we had done before, but then just like the franchise, we needed to boldly go where no-one (well mostly) has gone before… and so began our 12-month mission.

As of September 2019, our Shuttlebay project is heading towards the final stages of construction with the second set of doors being hung as this is being typed while progress on the operational and cosmetic elements of the Shuttlebay continue to progress towards the finish line. To keep updated with the all the progress while also being one of the first to see the finished product when the time comes follow across our socials on @theshuttlebay