On 23 March, our world changed. With Boris Johnson’s address, the nation’s workforce was essentially sent home overnight. As his broadcast ended, businesses across the UK scrambled to get their people back online from spare rooms, loft conversions and kitchen worktops. Within 24 hours, we were not only juggling our careers, but childcare and home-schooling too. British business hasn’t faced challenge as tough as this since World War II.
The survival toolkit
The impact has been grave. Business that lacked the technical or financial backing to respond swiftly have, in many cases, already fallen by the wayside. Those left standing face an uncertain future – a new normal we don’t yet know. Markets have contracted, supply chains are precarious, and we may still face further lockdowns. Optimism, innovation and stamina alone will not be enough: businesses after lockdown will need to run a tighter ship than ever before. Only those companies who consider the following core processes will have the resilience to prosper:
Frequent, agile risk assessment
Covid-19 poses new and constantly changing risk. In response, risk assessments must be frequent, relevant and agile to keep our businesses safe and compliant. As customers seek to minimise their own exposure to risk in unsettling times, they will inevitably be drawn to those companies who’re doing everything by the book. It pays to be that company.
The announcement on 23 March divided the nation’s businesses into two groups – those who had a business continuity plan, and those who didn’t. Going forward into a yet uncertain future, every business must have clear emergency plans if they are to live through whatever Covid-19 still has in store. Preparation is key.
The key ISO standards
Possibly the most important standard to safeguard business prosperity and readiness for change, ISO 9001 (Quality Management) is a robust framework for a successful business – whatever is going on the world at large. From managing employees during the pandemic, to setting resilient business objectives and handling suppliers, this standard gets businesses fitter for trading in hard times, and gives them the edge over less proactive competitors. And we all need an edge right now.
We’ve all heard the lockdown security breach horror stories: well-meaning employees deploying their own laptops for confidential business use, Zoom meetings with passwords in plain sight on the pinboard behind an attendee. For companies with ISO 27001 (Information Security Management) embedded into their processes, these faux pas simply don’t happen. Now, more than ever, this standard is crucial, both for security and credibility.
Covid-19 has taught us all the hard way that people are our greatest asset. It’s not surprising then, that ISO 45001 (Occupational Health & Safety Management) should be more important to us than ever. Every employee in the UK is now exposed to a fresh set of risks, posed by simply carrying out their day to day work. And those risks may yet change further. But, with the help of this standard, we can all get to a mindset of readiness.
What Joe Wicks got right
We might be tired of his undaunted enthusiasm and aspirational six-pack, but Joe Wicks has one thing right. Lockdown, or what’s left of it, is not the time for inaction, but for getting ourselves in the best shape possible to survive and thrive after lockdown.
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