Managing Crisis and Exploiting Opportunity

Over nine months into COVID-19 in the UK and two things are clear. Firstly, many of the new business procedures and the changes made so rapidly to business models during the spring and early summer of 2020 are here to stay. Although a vaccine rollout has started there will be no “return to normality” in the short term, or perhaps, ever. Secondly, businesses of all kinds are discovering that some of the changes forced upon them by COVID-19 are actually a good thing. By taking stock of old ways of working organisations are finding new ways to improve agility, flexibility and resilience. Welcome to the New Future of Work.

The New Future of Work

Who knows how often our children will still need to self-isolate and study from home? When will our elderly friends and family feel safe going out? How soon will face-to-face business meetings and events safely resume? It’s a future in which employees will depend on greater flexibility to make work-life happen. Many of us have found happiness and greater productivity working remotely, while others prefer to be on site with colleagues. Some people who were forced to seek new employment may now want to work for multiple employers, having experienced greater flexibility and new roles.

It is a future in which employers must pay closer attention than ever before to the individual needs of employees, as well as providing a safe, hygienic workplace. All of this whilst endeavouring to maintain the financially viable of their businesses.

Never have organisations needed to be so agile and reactive to changing demands: customer expectations, labour rules and regulations, employee needs, and competitor activity to name a few. Survival for many during the crisis relied on quickly adapting their business models, for example restaurants switching to take-out food or moving their focus to online sales and delivery. Change is always challenging, especially at the pace and scale that businesses have experienced in 2020. For some organisations, change was made harder by their current systems and processes clouding access to accurate and timely information. The lack of visibility and control placed an even greater burden on teams already working hard to adapt.

Learnings from the field

Reflecting on the many conversations held with customers and prospective customers during the pandemic, we realised that expectations of success in this New Future of Work could be grouped in four main pillars of focus:

  • Protecting businesses, employees and customers
  • Planning and executing strategy effectively to control costs, improve productivity and optimise revenues
  • Complying with constantly evolving safety and employment legislation
  • Communicating effectively to improve their employee experience and engagement

Successfully meeting the objectives defined in each of these pillars’ will be part of your data-driven transformation journey.


Keeping employees safe, for example, relies on accurate knowledge of employee wellbeing, where and when they are willing and able to work, and who has worked with whom, to enable activity such as contact tracing and reporting. We must also consider how to keep customers safe, and critically how to safeguard the financial wellbeing of our organisations.


Cost control and productivity has never been more important. For organisations to re-build finances and exploit new opportunities they must seek to maximise the return on their budgets, including labour. To do this they must focus on removing wasted time, effort and money by automating processes and reducing administrative burden.


Complying with labour rules and regulations was never easy but the pandemic – and it’s constantly changing rules on safe distancing and operation – made it much harder. Achieving compliance, without incurring additional costs and creating an administrative burden for managers, relies on automation.


The need for good communication came for the fore during the pandemic. Organisations that had previously shunned the use of mobile technology suddenly found it was THE essential means of keeping in constant communication with their employee. Employers recognised the need to demonstration greater openness, trust and transparency towards employees, and empowering people to personally take greater control of their work-life balance. As demonstrated by our customers, workforce technology is playing a critical role in enabling organisations to meet the key objectives define in each pillar by driving data-driven transformation.

Explore the New Future of Work

To help you meet the challenges and opportunities of the New Future of Work UKG has created a series of resources covering each of the four pillars – PROTECT, PLAN & EXECUTE, COMPLY and COMMUNICATE. Start your journey by watching this overview animation and then download the New Future of Work eBook. All resources can be found on the New Future of Work webpage.

We hope you find these resources useful as we close the book on 2020 and write a positive story about emerging stronger in 2021.

Published: Wednesday, 16 December 2020