HR may not have all the answers to the Coronavirus outbreak but being there is enough

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What a month. It’s difficult to put into words the collective anxiety and unease we are all feeling at the moment.

In fact, words probably will never do it justice. I am sure many of you have been working around the clock to keep your employees safe, well and connected in these uncertain times. For this, I send a sincere thank you.

Where possible, we are seeing businesses adapting to remote working like never before. The casual kitchen chats while making a cup of tea have been swapped for Google hangouts and ‘good mornings’ for ‘Can you hear me? Can you see me?’.

We are yet to have any visibility on when this period of self isolation and restricted movement will be over, and I’m doubtful the next few weeks will show us much in the way of progress.

However difficult this period may be, it’s essential that leaders remain positive and lead by example. Keyworkers and frontline emergency services are doing an incredible job caring for our communities and the best thing we can do for them is to stay at home as much as possible and continue on with life in a new way.

We have perhaps transitioned into the ‘future of work’ much sooner than we anticipated and once this pandemic has eased, I do believe the way we view how and where we work will have forever changed.

Workplaces have been forced into company-wide remote working pilot schemes which will hopefully deliver concrete results in these uncertain times.

I’ve no doubt that despite the many business challenges, many employees will be surprised to see their productivity levels matched if not improved by having the freedom to choose when and how they work, and there will certainly be lots of lessons for HR and the wider business community to learn.

In the meantime, I hope our readers are looking after themselves as well as the rest of their teams. It’s easy for the lessons we learn to go out of the window at times of crisis and there will inevitably many difficult conversations and decisions to be made over the coming months.

You may not have all the answers but simply being there is enough until you do have them. We all deserve compassion- and that includes yourself. Sending well wishes to every single one of you.

Jo Gallacher is editor of HR magazine

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