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

HFX wins £500k 7 year Public Sector contract

HFX wins £500k 7 year contract with a large public sector organisation. 

The HFX solution will provide a full Cloud Flexitime system to 3,500 staff working in 13 different council buildings and includes a complete security upgrade for the Council with fully integrated HFX Cloud Access control.

Nick Whiteley HFX CEO says: ‘This is an important win for HFX especially in these complicated times. We have seen a surge of interest over the last few weeks from companies looking for solutions to help them manage a way of working more flexibly in terms of location and working hours.  

This is going to be the strongest trend going forward as we come out of the Coronavirus crisis and HFX are proud to be prepared for this demand with extensive functionality within their Flexitime and Home Working modules.’

Alex Boa Sales Director commented that ‘we have seen through the outbreak of Coronavirus that moving towards a pure Cloud solution is no longer optional but essential for organisations that want to provide resilient services to all their offices and staff including those that work remotely and from home. HFX was recognised as having the most complete cloud solution on the market, with rapid implementation and exceptional support services.’

This latest win brings the number of local authorities within the UK to 400 and defines HFX as a market leader within this sector.  Indeed, HFX were the pioneers of Flexiworking and brought the first Flexitime software to the UK in the 1970s.

Nicola Smart COO states: ‘It is this track record and innovation which will propel us forward in the New World of Work post Coronavirus and we are looking forward to helping more companies manage their flexible workforces.’

Why Coronatimes are accelerating Cloud Adoption

Why “Coronatimes” are accelerating Cloud Adoption

We have already seen a steady adoption and migration to Cloud Solutions for the last 5 years as organisations seek to become more agile and less reliant on their own IT infrastructure. However, the radical change in working brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated the adoption of Cloud solutions as organisations rush to adapt to a New World of Work.

Even before the outbreak, there were many benefits of Cloud based solutions which are worth exploring in detail;

WHY CLOUD?

Cloud based solutions are typically quicker to implement as they require no software to be installed, reliance upon internal IT or procurement of additional servers. Typically, this means that an organisation will achieve a faster ROI (Return On Investment) whilst reducing the cost of ownership. Further still SaaS Cloud solutions are an operating cost (rather than CAPEX which is the case with on-premise solutions), enabling organisations to conserve their cash and align the costs to the benefits obtained. SaaS Cloud solutions often ‘payback as they go’ out of the benefits they derive meaning the monthly cost is actually zero as a net effect to the company.

Cloud solutions are easier to support as suppliers can resolve queries quicker without the need to attend site. With automatic updates, the organisation also benefits from the latest security and feature updates ensuring the solution is always secure and feature full.

Most suppliers offer “Up-time” levels (the time that solution is available for users) that far surpasses that which could be provided by internal support. This is because they leverage £100m hosting facilities with highly redundant systems and failover which ensures the solution is running 247. This reduces – and almost eliminates – downtime that hitherto could impact on staff productivity.

However, perhaps one of the biggest benefits of Cloud solutions is the agility that they provide their host organisations and staff. Because the solution is provided via the cloud and not on installed at your office, it provides flexibility for organisations to move or bring online additional offices without the additional headache of IT. It also enables staff who are working from home/remotely with the ability to access the solution anywhere levelling-up the access to essential tools wherever staff are based.

SUPPORTING THE TRANSITION TO HOME WORKING

All these are compelling arguments in the best of times, but during “Coronatimes” moving to the cloud is not simply beneficial but now essential. Those organisations that invested in Cloud solutions have found the imposed “home working” to be relatively seamless with staff able to access the same applications from home as they would at work. Contrast this with organisations who retain legacy systems and are frantically trying to find “work-arounds” or simply making do without the key systems that hitherto were fundamental to employee productivity in the workplace.

However, this approach is short-sighted. It assumes that within a few weeks, maybe a few months things will return to normal. This is flawed on two counts, firstly some form of lock-down and home-working is likely to be mandated for perhaps up to 6 months according to the Deputy Chief Medical Officer. But more importantly it assumes that everything will eventually return to normal.

PREPARING FOR LIFE AFTER CORONAVIRUS

The onset of Coronavirus is not just an “unprecedented” event but one that will define society and the world of work long after its health and economic impacts have receded. Whilst BC (Before Coronavirus) and AC (After Coronavirus) have just started to enter our lexicon, we can expect these terms will be used to describe the many changes that are being made due to Coronavirus and will continue to persist particularly in how we conduct business and work together.

Before Coronavirus I was not a fan of home-working, but our cloud-based solutions have made the transition seamless and the fears that this would impact communications, culture and management have so far proved groundless. In fact, communication and productivity has actually improved and our cloud solutions have brought people closer together. We use our own cloud-based Time and Attendance tools so that colleagues can log their time and share their availability, and this has not just resulted in home working but also flexible working.

As the many of us move to Home and Flexible working and discover that with the right cloud-based tools this not only brings benefits to colleagues but also to the organisation we can expect that for many it will continue long after Coronavirus.

So, organisations, should not be looking for short-term fixes or work-a-rounds but actively preparing for the New World of Work, by investing solutions that are cloud based and accessible and, enhancing their support for remote/home working by implementing Scheduling and Time & Attendance to ensure that management, communication is not only maintained but enhanced and improved.

To find out more about HFX and our solutions please call 03333 44 7872, email sales@hfx.co.uk or visit http://www.hfx.co.uk

Time & Attendance Managed Service

Creating new Time & Attendance payment rules, adding new absence or adjustment reasons, restructuring your org hierarchy or simply creating new working patterns.

With HFX’s Imperago these were made immeasurably simpler, however we recognise that many of our clients simply don’t have the time or in-house resource to make these changes or often don’t feel confident doing this themselves.

OUR EXPERTISE

HFX Managed Service is a supplementary service available to clients to help with these and other administrative tasks. After all, HFX are the experts when it comes to HFX software.

Based on the same simple pepm (per employee per month) pricing, HFX can now offer you their expertise in ensuring you always get the best from your system.

AUTOMATIC ALERTS

No more ‘work arounds’ or using the wrong reason code because you haven’t created the one you really need or managing exceptions as a result of the wrong pattern being worked.

Simply submit a request via the support portal and your request will automatically log the request and alert the HFX team.

If you are interested in how HFX can help you with:

  • Managing working patterns
  • Creating new adjustment reasons
  • Maintaining the org hierarchies
  • Adding a new device
  • Template setup and distribution management
  • Visitor and Contractor management
  • Mapping new pay-codes
  • Managing public holiday calendars
  • End user training

Just get in touch! *terms & conditions apply

Call 03333 44 7872, email sales@hfx.co.uk or visit http://www.hfx.co.uk

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.