A Covid silver lining on the HR jobs front?

It may be difficult to look for any silver linings from a Coronavirus pandemic that has already been responsible for more than 300,000 deaths worldwide and will leave in its wake a global recession and widespread unemployment.

But as is the case in all such situations: crisis and change also creates opportunity.

We have already seen that the pandemic has created some winners and losers. On the winning side: healthcare, pharmaceutical, biotech, logistics and distribution, food retail and streaming networks have all come into sharp focus whilst on the negative side travel, hospitality & tourism and many services and manufacturing businesses have suffered catastrophic collapses in their business.

As the world begins to drag itself out of lockdown the workplace is going to look very different as social distancing becomes a key characteristic in the “new normal.” As Jes Staley, the CEO of Barclays recently said; “the notion of putting 7,000 people in one building [the capacity of Barclay’s Canary Wharf flagship tower] may be a thing of the past.”

Pre-lockdown 11.8 million people in Britain worked at desks in offices. 60% of those desks will be unusable while the 2 metre rule remains in force – that mean 7.8 million people will continue to have to work from home.

The forced experiment of home working caused by the lockdown seems to have found champions in both employers and employees. Collier International, the property services group found in a survey of 4,000 people working from home that:

• 73% thought that their productivity was the same or higher
• 76% thought that their work/life balance had improved
• 81% wanted to carry on working from home 1 day a week or more.

Twitter, the social media group, has told its employees that they could continue working from home “forever” if they wanted and Eversheds Sutherland, the Law firm, has said that it planned to spend more money on technology and less on office space in the future. Of course, not all jobs are suitable for home working and many employees don’t thrive in this environment; see the recent NJR White Paper on Transferring Your Workforce to Home Working.

So, what does this mean for employment and what will be the hotspots generated as a result of the impact of the pandemic?

First, and foremost, there will be a demand for HR and Health & Safety professionals to help companies reconfigure their working environments and manage the employee relations issues as the furlough scheme is wound down and companies need to take a longer-term view on their staffing needs.

Secondly, digital transformation skills will be at a premium and HR professionals who have helped navigate the move from office-based working to a virtual environment will be particularly valuable.

Thirdly, many businesses will come out of the lockdown essentially as turnaround situations, so turnaround and restructuring skills will also be at a premium.

Please contact NJR if you are:

• A candidate with the necessary skills and experience to add significant immediate value to any company in the above situations.
• A business grappling with some of the above issues and have an urgent need for some or all of the identified skills

Norrie Johnston Recruitment are specialists in global executive search and interim management. When you commence a search for an interim or permanent senior HR professional with NJR, you will have the benefit of working with some of the most experienced and successful executive level recruiters in the UK, who also have real world corporate experience in helping our clients through a financial crisis.

To learn more, or to discuss hiring an interim HR professional please contact: Rex Cridland, Managing Director at Norrie Johnston Recruitment on +44(0)7714 252116 or email: rex.cridland@njr.uk.com