Our editor says employees are our greatest assets – good businesses will meet their needs

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic I have tried to use this column to reflect some of the personal challenges faced by businesses.

Of course, this can only from the perspective of the business that I am involved with – namely a PR and creative agency, which also publishes unLTD magazine. It’s difficult to put myself in the shoes of a manufacturing firm’s operations director or the owner of a restaurant.

What strikes me, though, is that wherever you look there are businesses who are absolutely smashing it and those who are almost on their knees. There doesn’t seem to be anyone just bumbling along.

Maybe they are. And it may be that there is a silent majority of firms who are quite happily plodding along with no real difference to their bottom line and no change in circumstances for their staff or customers.

I’d love to know if there are people like that out there as this situation has surely caused everyone to re-evaluate what they do and how they do it, whether that’s business, government, education or even the relationship you have with your family!

Whichever way your fortunes are taking you I think it’s fair to say that people are a little bored of the pandemic now. I’ll caveat that by saying ‘from a business perspective’ because clearly it has taken a very real human toll.

August is the month when the guidance for whether to work from home or not has changed.

Previously the onus was on what the government advised but now business owners are being encouraged to make the decisions about when to bring staff back into the workplace. Or at the very least begin consultations with staff.

This directive is primarily aimed at the office environment as there are umpteen sectors that have never stopped working from their main location – a bus driver or machine operative can’t carry out their job from the dining room table, for example.

It’s a very fine balance for bosses to strike as each individual person’s circumstances are different. Being seen to favour one employee over another is a dangerous tactic at the best of times never mind when decisions which may affect someone’s health are made.

What is needed is more guidance (and reassurance) from the government for businesses so they can welcome their staff back in a manner that uses common sense as well as practical measures.

Social distancing, frequent hand-washing/sanitising and being considerate of other people’s space are now becoming second nature to the vast majority of us.

Our employees are our greatest assets and good businesses will bend over backwards to ensure their needs are met.

However, there also needs to be realism that the world keeps turning, and, as rates of infection continue to be at a very low level compared to previous months, people need to be able to get on with their lives.

We need to learn to live with COVID-19 and we’ll only start doing that properly when a more positive message is being given by government that takes away some of the fears people have of returning to the workplace.