As we begin to see some semblance of normality returning with the recent reopening of retail stores and the hospitality sector on July 4th, there is a chance for recently furloughed and redundant staff to see a return to work.  Ambitions Personnel managing director Mandy Watson warns that to expect individuals who have been effectively housebound for four months to slot right back into working life is definitely wishful thinking. 

 

We might now be in July of 2020, the seventh month, but to a weary many, it seems like we are entering the 75th day of March. It’s been a long journey, but now that more workplaces are being given the clearance to open up with special COVID-19 related measures, there is a chance for recently furloughed and redundant staff to see a return to work.

 

It’s especially true with the print industry, as offices are shut down and many firms are running with a skeleton staff, alongside other stores and non-essential locations needing print services before March, now unable to open.

 

Adaptation is a word that’s going to be used many times in many industries for the rest of this year, and possibly into 2021.

 

Part-time returns to work seem to be the route many are taking after July and this will no doubt ease cash flow problems if employers have encountered dips in income. The relevant luxury of furlough has also meant employers can monitor progression regarding business demand, activity and profits and adjust hours accordingly. 

 

To really ensure a smooth transition, timing will be essential and it seems unwise to reintroduce workers too quickly.

 

The print industry is already seeing some improvements in other sectors, such as publishing. 

 

With writers needing to work from home at all times due to offices being shut, they are trying to pitch books and articles for other publications that they may not have thought was worth doing before March.

 

Figures are already stating a rise in magazine subscriptions due to lockdown; more people are trying out other ways to be entertained, and a great way is through magazines.

 

Because of this, there will undoubtedly be an increase in printing jobs that relate to this sector, further opening the field and opportunities that some are now looking for.

 

However, elsewhere in the industry, others such as ProCo Print have had to apply for further loans to try and re-adjust themselves in the current market. For example, ProCo recently received a £1 million loan as working capital in order to support itself for the coming months.

 

Re-adjusting while supporting employees is a high priority, and coupled with the furlough scheme, it can help keep a business on track, while thinking of how to hire new employers once there are better outlooks for companies.

 

As the furlough scheme is so flexible, it does allow employers the opportunity to strategise how to eventually return furlough workers to the business. 

 

One thing that SMEs in the print industry should be thinking about is their preparedness when it comes to productivity and employee performance. To expect individuals who have been effectively housebound to slot right back into working life is definitely wishful thinking. 

 

This stopgap in productivity or effectiveness in the workplace could well have an effect on business performance, so step-changes need to be made, both carefully and considered.

 

We are on the cusp of other non-essential industries opening, and with that will mean demand; demand for its customers, and demand for new ways to attract them. In turn, this will mean more demand from sectors in the print industry, and that will mean opportunity for jobs.

 

Granted, there’s going to be more challenges for the industry in the coming months, but there are definitely growing opportunities out there, and if there’s one aspect that business can learn from, it’s how they can adapt and slowly introduce steps for people coming off furlough.