By Lloyd  Salmons, Co-founder, PepTalk

As we approach the end of the year, we can look back and put into context everything that has been thrown at us in 2020. Revenues have been hit, deals put on hold, career development has taken a back seat and the connection between worker, colleagues, management and clients disrupted to such an extent that we’re unlikely to ever go back to the world as it was in 2019. But that presents an opportunity for individuals in business – both management and employees – to create a more future-proofed and fluid structure that better works for everyone.

And as we stand on the precipice of a new year, a new vaccine and new hope for a better 2021 some of the learnings from this pandemic will prove invaluable for every element of commerce in making tentative steps to getting back to what it does best. Because that’s what businesses do. They focus on the positives, learn from experience and look for solutions. Nowhere is this more acute than in helping teams and staff recover and catch-up from this year. Knowing what we know now, there are some key lessons in leadership businesses can deploy to make sure next year feels like the sunshine after the rain:

Grasp the opportunity to build back better

The last nine months has often felt like we are ‘living from work’ rather than ‘working from home’ but there is no doubt that COVID has caused a shift in how and where people work for the long-term. It means that for both company founders and senior management and the staff they employ, finding time to separate work from personal life is critical. The lines will inevitably blur but effort must be made to keep them separate. Things like a dedicated shut down time, ring fenced family days, dedicated time to exercise and just getting away from the screen are key. It’s a great chance to establish processes that can better balance work, mental health and family or personal life that should be grasped with both hands. 

2021 won’t be without challenge

By all accounts we’re about to see anything from a double-dip recession to the worst depression since the second world war. Eitherway, the immediate outlook isn’t great but it won’t last forever and if history teaches us anything it’s that we can and do bounce back. Remember, if your business can survive this, it can survive anything.

Place a high stock on resilience & adaptability  

Understand that resilience & adaptability are important transferable skills. If you and your teams can flex at short notice to cope with spikes in demand or disruption, that is hugely valuable. As an employer, place a great stock on these traits and encourage your employees to display them – even if they don’t feel then can or have the ability to do so. The good news is, these traits are a question of nurture rather than nature and with the right guidance we can all learn to thrive, whatever is thrown our way.

Empower the efficiency of employees

This year has underlined that people are unique as the spotlight has been placed on how individuals cope in a stressed situation. Some have families to juggle, some work better late at night or early in the morning, some can be more productive at home while others prefer to be in an office environment to work best. Whatever it is, businesses have been able to see down to an individual level how best people function and moving forward there must be allowances for this to continue. Employees have been empowered to find answers to a complex work-life balance equation and, in many cases, have come up with the right answer for their own circumstances. As a result, we’ve seen a trend for increasing productivity and people more content with the set-up of day to day operations.

Innovate to motivate 

As people continue to work remotely and the days of the all-in-office are behind us, founders need to look at innovative ways to support the welfare, development and ‘experience’ of their teams to account for shifting patterns of work and communication. While there is (hopefully) still a place for it, the days of relying on a team trip to the pub to keep up morale are over and have been replaced by innovations enabling employees to tailor solutions to their needs whether that be; mental health, financial planning, coping with pressure or just a shot in the arm to get up and go again.

The very best – those that get to the top of their chosen career – do so on talent and work ethic. But this is based on a whole spectrum of other, softer skills like adaptability, problem solving, communication, innovation and much more. These are the skills that we will all need to lean on if we are to make 2021 a year to remember for all the right reasons.