It goes without saying: COVID-19 really changed our current state of affairs rapidly and took us all by surprise. Over the past few weeks, you can’t turn on the news, or log in to your social media favorites without seeing the effects, opinions, and climbing numbers of how our health, economies and societies are changing due to the Coronavirus.
This panic-inducing, anxiety ridden shock has really weighed heavy on everyone, sending many people into elongated states of depression. It seems the lockdowns, and skyrocketing cases will never end, leaving people and businesses to wither away until there is nothing left. But there’s an important word there: “seems”. While it may feel like the state of things has been like this “forever”, and they will therefore continue “forever”, we need to remind ourselves that it has only been a few months.
As we’ve seen in past pandemics, world wars, and catastrophes in general, life does eventually return to some sort of productive “normal” again, even if it is slightly altered. This isn’t just the case for people, as it also applies to businesses.
Since businesses rely on people, they go hand in hand; consumers will one day start spending again, and the goods and services they rely on will start production at a regular pace.
- But what do businesses do in the meantime?
- How can they make adaptations now that help their business not only survive, but thrive?
Is there really an answer to those questions?
There are many out there that say “yes”, but the actions taken by these companies must be intentional and grounded in grit. This won’t be easy, but anyone worth their salt knows thriving in any business has never been a simple feat.
Many CEOs and other high level employees were around to experience the Great Recession of 2008, and have some tips for making it through COVID-19.
McKinsey & Company has provided ample advice regarding steps to take for moving forward. For example, business leaders must look ahead to anticipate what their new “normal” will be in order to lead their companies through the sagging economy to the profitable enterprise it can become again. They must have “resolve, resilience, return, reimagination, and reform.”
Hiding away under a rock and pretending this isn’t happening (as appealing as that sounds…) doesn’t do anything positive for anyone.
The faster your company responds to the situation, in delivering exactly what customers are looking for, the more likely you are to weather this and make it out of the storm alive. You have examples of this from distilleries processing hand sanitizer, to car cleaning services adding office disinfection to their repertoire. Also, reevaluating how you see the work day for your employees is a must – some businesses are seeing sales just as good if not better as before the massive remote work shift.
CEOs need to be open minded that the traditional 9 to 5 model is no longer the only productive model to be considered. We now have the potential to ask whether that model was really all that productive after all (after, of course, comparing the data months or years from now).
McKinsey & Company also suggests evaluating the way business is done using technological solutions, and making sure you’re utilizing the advances already at your fingertips.
Having more solutions built into the cloud that makes the ecommerce experience run more smoothly, or decreases the demand on people (which can also put them in harm’s way, such as essential workers), can minimize the impact when so many workers have the potential to be affected.
This doesn’t necessarily mean getting rid of people: keeping teams small and “nimble” allows for quicker evaluations, and reactions, as compared to stiff, broad reaching approval chains that take up too much time. Other suggestions for technology are already in place: remote working tools that allow employees to get their tasks done from almost anywhere.
Companies have seen a rapid response in workers ramping up within their home environments to continue meetings, marketing to customers, and maintaining systems that keep the company going.
There are other more obvious points that are plain, unfortunate facts in maintaining longevity in a suffering economy.
Trimming excessive costs (and minimizing necessary costs) and automation of workflow and day to day processes are two of the big ones. Also, to be prepared for any emergency, companies should have a disaster recovery plan that outlines responses needed to keep them moving forward.
Now, instead of solely focusing on natural disasters or a grid fall out, pandemic should be a circumstance that is planned for, as well.
There are a lot of steps companies can take work through the scenario we find ourselves in, and pivot to not just maintain but do really well after COVID-19. We’re going to be right here rooting for you.