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Enabling the New Normal: Greater Flexibility Around Staff Deployment
The Covid-19 pandemic has put flexible working at the forefront of the government’s economic response across the globe. The “work at home if possible” mantra of the UK government has obvious limitations for front-line retail workers who can only work in-store. As lockdown is lifted across the globe and retail slowly reopens, ensuring flexibility for the workforce will be vital for employers.
In the middle of the pandemic, we saw dramatic shifts in the workforce. Vast swathes of industry – like the hospitality sector – were forced to furlough staff. While other areas – like grocery – experienced an unprecedented spike in demand with companies like Tesco hiring up to 45,000 temporary workers.
The Covid-19 pandemic has also accelerated broader social trends and the move towards the flexibility offered by the ‘gig economy’. While I believe that employers should provide secure jobs where there is a need, the ‘new normal’ is likely to increase the trend for greater flexibility. Workers, businesses and consumers will all seek adaptability in many forms including flexible:
- shift patterns to allow staff to work varying hours so they can avoid peak travel on public transport
- locations to deploy staff to different stores closer to their homes to limit travel
- roles so staff can multi-task and keep the business running effectively
In addition, retailers will need to put the health and safety of their staff front and center and ensure they act as brand champions to entice customers back into store. Communication with staff will also become even more crucial as to help them understand best practice and to implement the right policies and processes as Government advice on how to operate and trade in the ‘new normal’ changes.
The only way to underpin this level of change and additional agility is to introduce vital technology like effective workforce management, task and communication tools to serve both employees and employers.
Read other articles in this series:-
Enabling the New Normal: A New Approach to Stock Management
Enabling the New Normal: Creating New Customer Journeys