It seems the worst is over. As COVID-19 cases climb down and vaccinations are administered at a rapid pace across Canada, we can hope to return to a pre-pandemic normal by end of this year.
While it may take a few years to completely recover from the damage caused by the pandemic, there are many ways in which it may have permanently altered the way we live and work.
As you prepare to open shop in the coming weeks, pat yourselves on the back for your resilience and hard work, and for making it this far.
Now may also be a good time to reflect on the lessons learnt during the pandemic. Based on what we’ve seen in the past year-and-a-half, here are 5 key takeaways for small business owners:
The importance of remote work
A trendy perk offered by few employers before the pandemic, remote work quickly became the only way to work for majority of us.
Employers realized that their staff could be just as productive (if not more) while working from home. Remote work also helped businesses save on rent, utilities, and other overhead costs that come with keeping a physical office.
The 11th Annual Hays Salary Guide reported that 40% of Canadian employers plan to include remote work into their regular practices. Employees, too, the report said found the option to work from home a “most desired benefit”.
The future is digital
Another major impact on the workplace was the digital transformation in operations.
From using video-conferencing software sparingly, we went to using it for everything: daily operations, meetings, townhalls, web events, hiring and even remote staff onboarding.
Many small businesses also took their products and services online. They swapped the locked down brick-and-mortar stores for e-commerce websites. The ease and efficiency provided by cloud-based HR management software also became apparent.
Both employers and employees were able to scale the sharp learning curve that came with this digital upgrading of processes.
Focus on staff wellness is key
These abrupt changes in the workplace also took their toll on our physical and mental health.
Remote work proved to be effective but isolating. Videoconferencing became our communication lifeline. But back-to-back video meetings through the day also led to what was dubbed as Zoom fatigue. Many found it difficult to segregate home and work leading to burnouts.
Professional HR support protects your small business
As a small business owner, you may not have the resources to afford an HR department, but you need HR guidance all the same. Even if you have the time to pore over legislations to ensure your workplace is ESA compliant, there are so many other daily issues for which you need professional HR support.
The last thing hard-hit small businesses need are legal claims born out of contract loopholes and absence of key policies.
With the fresh challenges it created, the pandemic drew attention to the importance of having job contracts and clear HR policies related to COVID-19, remote work, temporary layoffs, recalling staff, work refusals, etc.
Expert OHS guidance equals peace of mind
It was tough to keep up with the ever-changing legislations and public health guidelines while keeping your small business afloat during a pandemic.
Yet you needed to know health and safety laws to make policies, prepare for inspections, and protect your staff.
Smart employers sought expert guidance to stay compliant with health and safety laws. Professional support allowed employers to focus on their business and not worry about workplace outbreaks, injuries, or compensation claims.
Does your business need HR and OHS support?
Our experts can help you develop company policies as well as with any other HR, health and safety, or employment advice you may need. See how we have helped other small and medium businesses get their business compliant with provincial legislation.