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Coronavirus: unexpected benefits from new ways of working

The individual, social and economic costs of coronavirus are incalculable.

In our organisation, immensely dedicated staff have been striving to support vulnerable people and communities through the crisis. Recovery will take time and the ‘new normal’ doesn’t yet feel familiar for any of us.

There have, though, been unanticipated benefits from new ways of working.  

In our case, harmonisation following a recent merger has been accelerated by lockdown. Teams have drawn together in a collaboration which both recognised and responded to challenges facing each business area.

And while working remotely might have brought its own difficulties in balancing a demanding workload with home-schooling and childcare, it very quickly removed the barriers of multiple office locations across two counties.

We can take away from this experience the sense that together, we can overcome the toughest challenge; that we’ll do whatever it takes to deliver our mission, even if that means working differently. I’ve seen innovation in so many areas where a new approach is already delivering lasting, scalable benefits.

Customers have changed their behaviour, too. Social distancing encouraged us all to do more online. There has been an increase in demand for web-based services that might have taken years to achieve, bringing our digital future forward.

Most significantly, for me, has been the national conversation about the role of our keyworkers. We’ve seen a paradigm shift in the way that society values those on the frontline of this fight. When the applause has faded and the rainbow posters are taken down, a valuable legacy of coronavirus would be lasting respect for the people who got us through the crisis, by putting  other  people  first.

As we challenge ourselves to move forward, to flex and shape services to sustain our social purpose, I wonder how many examples of lasting change will arise out of an experience none of us wanted?


Sarah Boden

Chief executive, Housing Plus Group