The global impact of the COVID-19 pandemic will be felt for years to come. Industries have been decimated by national travel bans and lockdowns. For those that do survive this period of intense uncertainty, there are many lessons that have been learned.
Building on these lessons will strengthen your business for the road ahead.
The importance of people
When you start a business, it’s easy to get caught up in the processes and policies that go along with it. Often, the people side of things can take a back seat. The huge disruption to society that has been due to the government’s attempts to keep people safe. As a society, we have accepted this, but we should as a business too. Many people are nervous about their families and their loved ones. Understanding from their employers regarding this has been vital to maintaining levels of productivity during stressful periods and remote working.
To analyze your supply chain
The longer the supply chain you use, the more chance there is of it being disrupted. Sudden disruptions caused by a supplier going out of business, or a travel restriction, could have a huge effect on a business.
Extend this risk analysis to all the companies and service providers you work with, from IT companies to cleaners.
By conducting a risk analysis of your supply chain, you can put emergency plans in place should anything go wrong.
Business continuity planning
Business continuity plans are vital for businesses of all sizes. In fact, some insurers won’t cover you if you don’t have one in place. While most plans would not have had provision for something such as a global pandemic, the premise is the same. Business continuity plans should list how core business tasks can continue in the event that premises, personnel, or systems are compromised. Businesses with a robust business continuity plan going into 2020 were able to adapt far easier than those who did not.
Adapting to events quickly has saved many companies during the pandemic. Those that are comfortable and ready for change are better able to pivot their business model when required. Those who didn’t react fast enough the first time around would be able to pinpoint the exact weaknesses in their businesses and improve them for future events.
Great examples of these include breweries who started to produce hand sanitizer, restaurants who began offering a delivery service. Even personal trainers began to offer one-to-one sessions via video chat.
The value of collaboration tools
Millions of people, suddenly required to work from home, needed efficient ways to communicate with managers and co-workers. Some businesses were already using these tools such as Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Webex. Other companies found themselves having to rapidly adopt cloud-based collaboration tools that they may have been reticent to in the past.
These new methods of communication look set to become the standard when the pandemic is overdue to their overwhelming improvement of the communications process.
Productivity is not just achieved at the office
As working from home became the new norm, many organizations feared a downturn in productivity. Many employees began to relish the lack of distraction and improved work-life balance. Productivity didn’t take the nosedive that employers feared, and in many cases, it increased.
Workers were enjoying less time commuting, spending less money on travel and food, and were adopting healthier habits.
Surveys conducted on remote workers show that a large percentage of them want to maintain a level of home working after the pandemic ends. Employers are now less afraid of letting employees work flexible hours from home.
The importance of social interaction
There are some downsides to remote working. Employees still want social interaction with colleagues and other people. Ways to combat this loneliness are starting to address this isolation with informal video chats and virtual coffee hours.
Opportunities for hiring talent
A fully remote workforce takes away the geographical constraints when it comes to hiring. The talent pool opens up, potentially to a global level.
The ability to work flexibly is also an attractive perk for a potential employee.
No one could have predicted the unprecedented upheaval that COVID-19 would cause. Though it is easy to dwell on the negatives, there are some sparks of positivity that have emerged. Businesses are adopting more flexible working practices that are allowing their employees to enjoy the social, health, and financial benefits.
As no one knows what the next few years will bring, learning these lessons now can only enhance your resilience against future disruptions.