A two-gear approach to support a physical return to work that marries transition with transformation will help companies during and beyond the recovery phase.
Authored by Darryl Wright, Associate Partner, EY Canada People Advisory Services
The journey back to reopening physical workplaces is paved with opportunities for companies to rethink and reframe their business for the future. Safety and wellbeing should be the first — but not the only — priority for leaders navigating this transition. A two-gear approach that marries transition with transformation will help companies during and beyond the recovery phase.
Establishing a two-gear approach
Gear one is all about transition and managing the risks associated with returning employees back to physical locations, and it includes the health and safety of employees, clients and operational resilience. The second gear — transformation — is about reimagining the way your organization will operate in a post-pandemic world. These gears need to move together for the other to work. To do that, organizations need to be able to shift them both into motion simultaneously. That’s where a Command Centre model comes into play. A Command Centre is a centralized body that continuously reviews data on employees, financial health and the company’s environment to plan its next move.
Reimagining operations through the Command Centre
Comprised of members from across the organization — different levels and functions — a Command Centre is the foundation to drive change efficiently and effectively by:
- Identifying workforce imperatives, and developing and implementing action plans to address these imperatives. These include workforce planning, employee experience, health and safety, workforce readiness engagement, etc.
- Identifying, assessing and mitigating any activity or event that could cause preventable risk and harm to the business
- Contributing to the development of workplace guidelines aligned with health and safety requirements; assessing and ensuring workplace readiness
- Understanding the evolving regulations and guidelines; reviewing legal implications and risks; and engaging with external stakeholders
Another way to think of it is that the Command Centre serves as the overall point of orchestration across a complex portfolio of moving pieces. It allows leadership to manage the risks and liability of returning to physical workplaces while implementing change. The model also ensures engagement from the right stakeholders — at the right time — to coordinate actions in response to external and internal factors as pandemic conditions change or evolve.
Using the model for consistent messaging and interactions
Communication is critical to any organization’s successful return to physical workplaces, especially when you add transformation on top of transition. The Command Centre acts as the main communication channel to engage with internal and external stakeholders, the forum through which leadership can frame the what, how and when they need to communicate.
And while good top-down communication is essential to demonstrate leadership and ensure employees adhere to practices, protocols and policies for safe transitioning, the Command Centre is also an avenue for individuals to share information back with leadership. Feedback on workspace readiness, security and health concerns, and the wellbeing of the employees is critical to transition and transformation success.
As organizations embark on their recovery journey, the ability to anticipate new waves of unforeseen disruptions is important. Having flexibility and agility woven into the strategy will be key to improve resiliency and agility to protect people and the business. The ability to put in place a fast, effective and informed decision-making process will not only enable leaders to listen, align and act in response to COVID-19’s fast evolving conditions, but also make the difference between success and failure coming out of the crisis.
What’s your advice for leaders looking to drive a trusted transition and future-focused transformation through and beyond this pandemic? Access more insights at ey.com/en_ca/covid-19.