As the world progresses into the new normal, strategies employed at the height of the pandemic may now be ineffective. Here are ways to secure operations in today’s business landscape.
The COVID-19 pandemic plunged the world into a global health crisis. Public measures taken to curb the spread of the virus have also taken their toll on the economy, as businesses had to limit operations or shutter in compliance.
Both citizens and businesses are now trying to acclimate to the new normal with the measures relaxed.
Businesses must act decisively and strategically to take advantage of these changes. The key is to strike a balance between resuming and rebuilding operations and safeguarding your employees. It is also necessary to incorporate measures to avoid transmission of the virus.
This article will discuss a number of strategies that you can use to adapt business operations in this post-COVID environment.
How businesses can adapt operations to the new normal
It can be daunting to resume operations after weathering a crisis. The right strategies should help your business recover from losses and put itself back on the trajectory of holistic growth.
Put employees at the forefront of your strategy
Your employees have played a key role in sustaining operations throughout the crisis—now, more than ever, should you be reaching out and listening to them. Clear, transparent, and compassionate communication is a must to build and maintain trust with them.
Consider creating channels of communication for voicing out both feedback and strengthening social and professional bonds between team members.
Any concerns regarding their well-being—health, financial status, job security, and living situation—should be heard. Revisit any policies that can offer aid or relief to affected and vulnerable groups.
Actively seek feedback from your teams regarding the changes in operation. Listening to your people goes a long way in making operational changes more inclusive while empowering and raising morale within the organisation.
In all of these changes, leading with your employees’ mental, physical, and relational needs in mind is vital. A company’s resilience needs to be two-fold—both the business and its people should be able to recover and rebuild.
Develop a new normal business plan
Strategies from the height of the pandemic were meant to keep operations possible under extreme conditions. Now that austere measures are more relaxed, businesses are slowly resuming.
Continue monitoring information on the virus—information from health experts, the government and other important institutions’ actions to combat it, and the changes happening in your industry. Taking a data-based approach to your business plan can help you resume operations stronger and more securely.
Take note of any government or industry-mandated requirements for workplace operations and ensure compliance by working these regulations into your plan. This can help you avoid possible risks and other obstacles.
Create a safe working environment
Re-opening the workplace will require more than just the readiness of your teams. Your top priority is to ensure a safer working place for your returning employees. Businesses should consider the following tactics for implementation during re-opening.
- Stagger the return to the worksite. The first batch of employees should include those who cannot work remotely or whose presence is essential.
- Create a shifting system. By spreading out operation hours, you can minimize the number of on-site employees at any given time.
- Reduce, if not eliminate, interactions with third-party staff, customers, and premises. Explore digital tools and alternatives to lessen the risk of exposure for your staff.
- Manage the workspace effectively to account for proper social distancing through methods like reducing capacity for conference rooms and installing dividers.
- Require face masks for all staff entering the workplace to prevent the possible spread of the virus.
Implement additional health and safety precautions
Aside from adjusting the work environment, you should also take additional precautions to secure the health and well–being of your employees. Strengthen any cleaning and disinfection efforts in the office, especially on shared equipment like desks and printers. Discourage the sharing of personal office equipment, such as keyboards and headsets.
Store away or shut off sites of contamination like water fountains, beverage dispensers, and the like. Face masks and disinfectants like rubbing alcohol should be readily available on-site.
Communicate reminders for maintaining proper hygiene and avoiding health risks regularly to all employees. Additionally, screening efforts like on-site temperature checks, reporting possible exposure to the virus, and employee testing are effective ways to minimise the chances of infection.
Cooperate with your health insurance provider for resources on steps each employee can take to avoid infection and maintain their health. Additionally, talk to your provider on the full scope of their coverage and benefits for COVID-19 and related concerns.
Lean into digital technology across departments
While you’re preparing for the return to on-site work, now is an excellent time to consider maximising digital technology. By using digital tools, your company can reduce possible areas of risk while ensuring that operations roll out smoothly.
For example, substitute face-to-face client meetings with online video conferencing. This allows you to communicate with customers in a more personal way without the risk of exposure. Virtual meetings can also help recreate brainstorming sessions, check-ins, and other essential collaborative efforts.
Other areas that can benefit from digital technology include using digital paper trails for documentation and analysis and talent acquisition through online interviews or enhanced digital hiring efforts.
Finally, company leaders should consider using digital solutions to adapt their management and leadership styles. Making this shift aids in empowerment and growth of both on-site and digital workforces without unnecessary friction or complication.
Plan towards full post-crisis operations
As the situation slowly begins to stabilise, your company will need to shift from reactionary strategies to a more predictable plan.
Aside from planning with data gleaned from operations before and during the crisis, you now need a more forward-thinking approach. Keeping in mind this information, set realistic milestones for your business to hit as you return to operations. Prioritise activities that allow for additional growth in the long term while ensuring business security at every stage.
Additionally, consider the changes made for current business operations and determine if they can be permanent. This also allows you to integrate your previous change goals into your current change requirements.
Restructure financial model for future growth
During the height of the health crisis, common strategies for business continuity during COVID skewed towards making conservative choices and cutting costs to sustain operations. In line with your business plan for the new normal, you will need to re-evaluate your current financial strategies.
Your business will need to transition from short-term cost reduction to returning to more long-term investments and growth opportunities. The key is to maintain a balance between short-term liquidity and long-term investments and needs.
Continuous monitoring and forecasting of your financial performance are necessary for this restructuring to take place. Consider all forms of support available to you—whether government aid or relief programs or private solutions—when deciding on an appropriate strategy.
Invest in technology and protection
You never know when the next crisis will hit, or what form it will take. With your first-hand experience in navigating this crisis, put those learnings to good use by integrating them into future plans.
Given that bans on travel and other safety measures crippled your on-site operations, automation technology and outsourcing should be viable points of investment. These solutions can help you respond to customers immediately and provide support at a larger capacity. Cloud applications can also aid with scaling and enabling a remote workforce.
Finally, the shift to digital technology has also increased the potential for cybersecurity risks. Investing in cybersecurity solutions can minimise this risk and keep transactions and operations secure down the line.
The COVID-19 pandemic was a “black swan event”—an occurrence that is near impossible to predict but will have significant consequences. Most, if not all, businesses were caught off-guard by this crisis, leading to serious changes in operations.
In the wake of this crisis, it is essential to learn from what has happened and continuously adapt to the conditions of the new normal. At the end of the day, securing the well-being of your employees and the stability of operations go hand-in-hand. That said, learning everything you can from this crisis can help you prepare better for the future.
About the Author
Regina del Rosario is from Booth and Partners – a boutique outsourcing company based in Manila. She has a solid background in conducting interviews with multiple candidates to identify the one with the most potential. She has hired over 100 applicants for positions in dozens of industries and campaigns, at levels ranging from interns to upper-level management.