How have you prepared for a second lockdown?

Management Today asked leaders what they’ve got in the works should a second wave force them to shut the workplace again.

by Orianna Rosa Royle
Last Updated: 27 Aug 2020

Just as reports come in of the first case of someone catching coronavirus twice, whispers of more local lockdowns spread.

The pandemic is clearly far from over, but no one knows what shape it will take over the next months or even years. A second wave is highly probable, but we don't know how severe it will be.

It would have to be pretty bad for the government to impose another strict nationwide lockdown as it did earlier in the year, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson comparing the measure to using a “nuclear deterrent”. But that doesn’t rule out your workplace falling under a local lockdown, of the sort seen in Leicester, at dizzyingly short notice.

With the fortune of hindsight and recent remote working advances, a second lockdown should be less challenging. But with leaders grappling with recession conditions and transitioning workers back to the office, a second wave strategy might be at the bottom of to-do lists. 

We asked four leaders if and how they’ve prepared for another lockdown.

Ole Rollag, CEO, Murano

We think a second lockdown is inevitable, at least some version of it. As a consequence, we are focusing on the most crucial shortfalls of working from home, which is training new staff and building on efforts of social cohesion. We are finding that working from home is beneficial from a productivity standpoint. However, the sense of 'belonging' is starting to get stressed.  

We have already experienced a 'red flag' when one of our employees got sick. We had to close the office for a week (which was only at 10 per cent capacity), ask him to immediately take the test, and once we got the negative result, restart again. It is obvious that this will happen again and we need to be prepared for this.

Runjit Bhopal, finance director, Landbay

It’s not about seeing a potential second lockdown as an end point. It’s about short-term exercises that will be key to long-term health.

Although we’re an online business, we specialise in buy-to-let mortgages, which relies on physical valuations. We believe it’s about planning for continued uncertainty - we could be navigating through crisis management and stabilisation for the foreseeable future. 

We’ve used scenario planning to pressure test a range of assumptions. Our use of Oracle NetSuite delivers us this consolidated view across the organisation’s finances. From there, we assess our most urgent liquidity needs based on our own past data and historical trends from property downturns. We’re operating on a 13-week rolling forecast, and taking departmental decisions into spend based on those forecasts.

Katie Lee, CEO, Lucky Generals

We will prepare for the potential of a second lockdown in the same way we have dealt with everything so far. Since the start of COVID-19, our steering group has been assessing the situation, daily, weekly and monthly. And not much has changed. We update the company regularly but always with our plans for the next month, rather than further ahead. 

We’ve had the office open for a few days a week over the summer and will increase this in September. We’re encouraging people back because we believe people spending time together (safely) face-to-face and having the spontaneous meetings that only happen in an office puts credit back into the culture bank. And this will be vital if we do need to lockdown again, so that our team has the energy and resilience to keep the momentum going in what is always a busy second half of the year.

George Mulhern, CEO and chairman, Cradlepoint

Our pandemic business-planning assumed that COVID wouldn’t prompt a static ‘shutdown’ and ‘open up,’ but that it would be rolling. We were all caught off guard when COVID-19 hit. As it relates to work, there have been two positive impacts. First, it has accelerated the adoption of digital transformation technologies. Second, it has proven that the trust placed in our employees is well-founded. We moved to work from home overnight and our employees continue to deliver amazing results under these circumstances. So from both a technical and emotional-support standpoint, we are prepared for another lockdown. 

We are now ready for what I believe will be the ‘new normal’—a work environment that blends the benefits of work from home and work in the office.

Image credit: Chansom Pantip via Getty Images

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