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Recrutiment & Employment Confederation

Five steps to managing a strategic transition out of lockdown

Business advice

This is a guest blog from Matt Hamnett, Founder of REC business partner MH+A.

Going into lockdown was incredibly difficult. Leaving it will be at least as complex. I recommend thinking about five broadly sequential steps to leave lockdown in a way that gets you up and running asap – and which sets you up for success in a post-pandemic world.


Work out how you’ll make your workplace ‘Covid secure’ once you’re allowed to reopen. Work through Government’s guidance on the five steps all businesses should take plus more specific guidance relevant to you. Consult staff to understand their concerns and ideas before implementing detailed policies, processes and plans for Covid safety.  Assume the worst: plan backwards from an avoidable infection. Spot what might go wrong before it happens. The risks and prospective liabilities require it.

Staff engagement

I am certain of two things: first, the last few months have been tough for your staff (whatever their particular experience of lockdown); second, you need engaged, enthused and talented people more now than you ever have – and perhaps ever will. You need their insight to help you develop brilliantly detailed plans for Covid-safe transition. You need their support to operationalise those plans – to spot where they’re not working, to propose and make changes that make them work. And you need them to help you transform into a business that succeeds in the post-pandemic world.


The world has changed since we went into lockdown. For example, we’re more environmentally conscious, aware of our physical and mental health, family and community oriented - and less inclined to work long hours than we were (Cicero/AMO). You need to do a proper piece of work to think about what’s changed, which changes you think will last, what they mean for your customers – and for you. Without this strategic check-in, you risk the market moving away from you. With it, you’ll spot issues and risks you can mitigate – and opportunities to step ahead of your competitors in the short-term, for the long-term.


You need a clear view on safety and an early view strategy before you can manage your transition out of lockdown. Your transition plan needs to include every, detailed and granular step you’ll take to make your workplace safe, operational and profitable as quickly as possible. You should manage transition as you (hopefully) did the original crisis, i.e. as a centrally managed programme; with robust process in place to manage risks and issues; and, with very regular communication and feedback loops.


Your balance sheet requires that you reopen workplaces as quickly as you safely can. You don’t have time to reflect all your thinking on strategy in your immediate transition. You just need to future-proof transition as much as you reasonably can. As soon as you see light at the end of the transition tunnel, you need to start thinking about your transformation for the post-pandemic world. That means creating a long-term roadmap to become the business you want and need to be for the long-term. All of which is to say that leaving lockdown safely is necessary but not sufficient. The organisations which lead their market in two years’ time will, I am quite sure, leave lockdown safely, strategically and with brilliant staff engagement.

Matt Hamnett is the founder of MH+A.

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