On Thursday 1st April, FWB Park Brown’s Aberdeen office hosted a virtual Leadership Forum, facilitated by John Cameron, Stuart Cochrane and Nia Lynch-Cryle.
The discussion focused on sharing issues and learnings from a year with Covid-19, and what these mean for both the current and future business landscapes.
The topics discussed included:
- The “new normal”, or the “new different”, and how organisations can prepare for it
- The ongoing challenges for businesses in Aberdeen
- The impact of the pandemic on young workers
- The effects of Covid on the global supply chain
- The evolution of the role of Non-Executive Directors amid the crisis
- The short and mid-term outlook for the energy sector and the North Sea
Participants on the forum commented that many employees are now experiencing “work from home fatigue”, challenges around work-life balance and a feeling of isolation. Whilst the majority of participants recognised that businesses will need to be a lot more flexible regarding work arrangements moving forward, organisations need to be careful as home working comes with its own challenges and many practical and legal implications. Employers maintain the same health and safety responsibilities for employees working from home as for any other employees, so organisations need to be mindful of potential issues that this situation could create such as work related illnesses and H&S claims. Participants agreed that the best model would likely be a hybrid, with core time in the office with colleagues and clients and some home working. They also highlighted that, in order for remote working to be effective in the long term, businesses needed to make sure that managers should receive the necessary training to successfully manage their team remotely and also have a strong performance management system in place.
Managing people’s expectations is crucial during these uncertain times and communication from employers and leaders, particularly the frequency of communication, has never been more important.
Young workers are one of the worst-affected groups amidst the pandemic. With no office time for over a year, participants commented that they are missing out on a crucial part of their development in terms of competence and soft skills, this is particularly the case for trainees and graduates. However, participants also recognised that the young workforce are probably more comfortable in a virtual world and could possibly thrive more while remote working than the rest of the working population.
Many business leaders believe that they are actually having more interactions than ever before with colleagues on a global scale. They recognise that a lot of meetings are more efficient without the travel time, not to mention significant cost savings. Travel habits have changed dramatically over the past twelve months and there will be no need to go back to previous levels without carefully considering the purpose and value-add of the trips. Global operations, particularly offshore, have been quite negatively impacted by Covid-19 however the pandemic has also helped to accelerate digitalisation in the energy sector and made it possible for companies to take advantage of different opportunities.
The importance of non-executive directors amid the pandemic is undeniable. NEDs are typically the voice of reason and they should therefore encourage boards and executive teams to consider things they have not thought about yet and anticipate future challenges and opportunities. The NED participants commented that their focus had been to help executives focus on cash and people which are more paramount than ever.
A host of energy market outlooks, with varying degrees of optimism, have been published over the past year from established sources. Although participants can clearly see some light at the end of the tunnel, they remain quite cautious regarding forecasts. Some organisations have highlighted a real difficulty to access funds to finance Oil & Gas projects but all have recognised the potential opportunities that the North Sea Transition Deal could bring for the industry locally.
This period has definitely offered the opportunity to reflect on key strategic changes businesses need to make to be able to adapt quickly and thrive in future. Organisations should recognise the opportunity for positive change that the pandemic is bringing while also trying to re-establish what was lost during this time.
FWB Park Brown
FWB Park Brown continues to deliver its full range of services which includes providing support and advice during the Covid- 19 Public Health and developing global economic crisis.
We have established a range of cross sector as well as sector focused discussion forums for Chairs, NEDs, CEOs and all the main business management disciplines. We are also working closely with the Scottish HR Leadership Group to provide constructive support including discussion forums and Q & As.
Summaries of the discussions will be posted on our news section and also on LinkedIn.
For further information about any of these forums please contact us via email@example.com