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The Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 issue 38: Early lessons from the UK response

As governments and organisations across the world begin to evaluate and report on their response to COVID-19, this week’s Manchester Briefing takes a look at initial learnings from the UK government’s response.

The fortnightly Manchester Briefing from Alliance MBS and the Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute brings together international lessons for local and national government recovery and renewal in the wake of the pandemic.

The latest issue reports how prior to the pandemic various countries were assessed on their preparedness to respond to such a crisis through the Global Health Security Index. But early evidence has shown that those countries ranked highly (most prepared) and those ranked lower were inconsistent with their actual performance during the crisis. In other words, their readiness and actual ability to respond to a global pandemic emergency did not reflect these rankings.

The reality of COVID-19 responses nationally and internationally demonstrates both the need to learn lessons and to conduct in-depth assessments of pandemic outbreak preparedness based on these lessons.

In this context the Briefing extracts some key points from the Initial learning from the government’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic report produced by the National Audit Office. The report summarises learning points for the UK government across various themes including risk management, transparency and public trust, data and evidence, and financial and workforce pressures.

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Global employment

This week’s Briefing also considers early policy lessons for global employment from the pandemic. For instance, before the pandemic the Philippines saw a prolonged period of economic growth and job expansion but COVID-19 reversed these gains, as it did in many other countries. The Asian Development Blog offers five global best practices to address lower employment rates which are predicted to persist even after economies begins to grow again.

The latest issue also considers how COVID-19 could re-shape food supply chains and markets. The pressures placed on the global food system during the crisis activated various policy responses across the world to manage supply and demand. The Briefing considers how to address the impacts of the pandemic and build food system resilience for the future with regard to countries that rely on food imports.

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Future of work

The future of work and the move towards hybrid working is also discussed, and how working from home may not translate smoothly to post-pandemic working. For instance, many organisations have only just begun to consider how a new ‘hybrid’ approach to working will be integrated into organisational practice.

The Briefing discusses the importance of being transparent and open from the start with employees and being clear on the current expectations of workers considering that their personal circumstances may have changed during the pandemic and they may not be able to make a swift return to the office.

It discusses the importance of ‘reimagining’ the leadership process in an organisation, and also the need to develop new codes of practice for online meetings so that employees don’t always feel they must be available. And it looks at new ways of monitoring and evaluating employee attendance and productivity, so that employees don’t feel they need to be constantly logged into their computers to prove they are working.

Download this week's Manchester Briefing on COVID-19 (issue 38)

If you would like to contribute your knowledge to the Briefing contact