Adaptability is the new competitive advantage in the next normal

SAI Global
By David Smith, Commercial Director, EHS — SAI Global
Wednesday, 04 November, 2020

The H.G. Wells quote, “Adapt or perish, now as ever, is nature’s inexorable imperative,” should be the operating mantra of every company as you start to pivot. Now is the time to review and reset how your business operates.

As overwhelming as it sounds, there is tremendous opportunity here. This truly is a time when you can increase your risk agility, reduce bureaucracy and elevate your preparedness. Because companies have been forced to accelerate digital-first and cloud-based initiatives, organisations have become much more agile. And this increased agility will be invaluable to the future resilience of your business.

The new normal is here to stay. There is no going back. We can only move forward.

What does it mean to pivot?

Technology will be the key. We can’t stress this enough. Harnessing the right technology for your business and industry will support how you adapt, increasing your agility — and in the end, strengthening your resilience.

A recent study of 4000 UK manufacturing companies by the Australian National University identified a correlation between increasing debt and the likelihood of corner-cutting at an operational level. Specifically, the data showed that businesses that increased debt by 20% experienced a similar increase in safety breaches.

This is where cloud-based risk management software with digitised, configurable workflows can support your response, such as by providing a range of inspection checklists, specific health monitoring and tracking capabilities, and respiratory protection tools.

Keys to a successful pivot

For your organisation’s strategic and well-considered way forward, cloud-based software such as SAI360 can help you to:

1. Engage your workforce

Enhanced communications will be increasingly important as more and more people work remotely. Leave nothing unsaid. Communicate with your people regularly to help them stay totally focused on health and safety risks and engage them in the development of new procedures, guidelines, and training materials.

For example, Roam, our SAI360 mobile app, can push notifications out to mobile devices which can be configured to suit different roles and locations allowing you to deliver constant, short messages to the right people at the right time including where positive cases are detected in your workplace. To see additional workflows, checklists and forms that Roam can deliver, find out more here.

2. Manage changes

In recent months, the nature of your work may have changed and your workforce composition has likely been impacted. Using a digital Management of Change process, you can ensure that changes are reviewed by the right people to avoid unintended consequences. An appropriate implementation plan can be transparently established and associated actions can be managed to closure.

3. Simplify monitoring and drive accountability

Actively monitoring the safety and well-being of workers in the early days and weeks following their return to work or the workplace, as well as monitoring those workers who are working remotely, will be essential. By driving accountability of tasks that need to be undertaken, you’ll have the agility to fix any issues quickly.

Using technology to monitor workplaces and people will allow you to make data-driven decisions while retaining focus and maintaining momentum.

4. Assess effectiveness

As we gradually return to work, we’ll need to ensure workplaces are safe and continually remain so by making sure workers are adapting and observing the new ways of working such as new hygiene practices and social distancing measures.

These times have been challenging with a capital “C”, but there is an upside. The key will be a strategic and integrated approach to your company’s health and the health of your employees. Now is the time to digitise EHS processes and empower a more mobile and engaged workforce. By digitising more processes, EHS activities can continue regardless of remote work or physical distancing, helping operations run more smoothly. And should another unexpected threat impact the business in the future, [with] an EHS team with data-infused knowledge and oversight, there can be less disruption to operations. If you’re considering procuring EHS software to bring your EHS processes online, have a read through our EHS Buyer’s Guide to Workplace Health and Safety Technology.

There have been many lessons learned throughout this pandemic both in life and in business. And if we take the time to implement that learning going forward, we will all be better for it.

About David Smith

David Smith is Commercial Director EHS at SAI Global. A seasoned EHS, sustainability risk management professional and thought leader, David has more than 20 years of experience delivering EHS strategies for leading organisations across a wide range of industries, including energy, defense, pharmaceuticals, and financial services. As part of the EHS portfolio at SAI Global, David utilises his EHS practitioner perspective to help drive product innovation, the commercial growth of the portfolio as well as helping to identify the needs of our customers to enable them to achieve operational excellence. David has a first Honours Degree in Environmental Science and PG Cert focused in Occupational Safety and Health from the University of Greenwich.

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