Together, apart

Friday, 20th March 2020

Guest blog by Phil Wedgwood, CEO of Engage Solutions Group

They say that every cloud has a silver lining. Well, the shimmer from the current viral gloom for many firms will surely be their greater preparedness for next time.

We haven’t had a Business-as-Usual challenging event like this before. Our weather-related disruptions have always been short-term but Covid-19 has the potential for months, if not years, of disruption. It is focusing the mind like nothing before it. I’ve talked to quite a few companies in recent days, all of which have been busily buying up laptops and phones so they can equip those opting to work from home. But there’s also been a keen awareness of the disruptive impact on the core cohesion of a firm.

It’s great that people can work from home, but the suddenly distributed workforce risks higher levels of disassociation and disengagement. For instance, companies might face reduced revenue as customers reset budgets, and they may need to streamline headcount. This always affects morale. Managing workforce mood where every day moves into the unknown, and where there is clear business fall-out, is taxing leadership just as much as acquiring equipment before stock shortages bite.

Basically, just because laptops and remote access are in place, doesn’t mean that effective colleague and customer engagement is. At a time of uncertainty and rapidly developing events, communication matters. However, far more important is a sustained sense of connection, care, cultural attachment, and of organisational responsibility – we want to get this right for you, for the business wellbeing, and your people’s wellbeing. With so much effort going into mobilisation and a lack of an existing engagement strategy, are firms able to reach out and reassure sufficiently?

From what I can see, firms are not panicking, but there is uncertainty. So, they are taking sensible, practical steps to deal with this threat to health and business. And there’s also plenty of awareness – right now – of the need to accelerate an engagement strategy once the crisis abates. There’s been nothing like this in peacetime to test the integrity, resilience and resolve of organisations and communities; nothing that has thrown such a lens on the need for unity, cooperation and stability. Let’s hope that the silver lining doesn’t get forgotten once we’ve weathered the storm.

To see what colleague engagement looks like, you can view our video here –

For further information, please contact Rob Cartwright |