Quite understandably, there’s immense uncertainty right now among organisations around the world about the conditions that they will likely be facing even in just a few months’ time, never mind in another three months, six months or a year.
How, you might wonder, can you possibly effectively prepare your business for an era after the worst of the coronavirus crisis has passed?
In fact, will the crisis really ‘pass’ for a while? Perhaps there will be unpredictable cyclical outbreaks, prolonged chaos that drives governments and societies to breaking point, or we’ll be lucky, with an effective vaccine being discovered and the virus seeming like old news by the end of next year?
But let’s not dwell too much on all of that. Instead, we’ll take a closer look at some of the strategies that are likely to serve your firm well in the new world of work after COVID-19, whatever the future exactly ends up looking like.
Show your humanity as an organisation
It would be something of an understatement to say that the COVID-19 crisis has wreaked havoc with a lot of people’s mental, not just physical, health. Recent figures from the UK’s Office for National Statistics, for instance, show that more than a third (37.4%) of British adults said the pandemic had affected their wellbeing.
So, now is definitely a time for your organisation to emphasise your team members’ shared humanity, and to cultivate an inclusive and rewarding company culture.
You can help to achieve this through such steps as communicating compassionately, living the stated purpose of your organisation to help to build trust from your personnel, and genuinely caring about your employees’ concerns at work, perhaps supporting them with life coaches and wellbeing programmes.
Be flexible and phased in how you resume ‘normality’
We touched above on the matter of the ongoing uncertainty facing organisations at this time; such uncertainty, however, concerns events within and impacting directly upon your business, and not just those that might happen in the wider world.
So, as your firm gradually resumes something vaguely resembling ‘normal’ operations, be sure to build flexibility and agility into your strategy.
Re-engineer how your firm does things, so that if lockdown restrictions need to be re-imposed and your sector faces renewed turmoil, you can switch back to a remote workforce that is well-prepared to continue serving the most pressing requirements of your business’s customers and clients.
Embrace the technological, organisational and cultural changes the crisis has brought
Many of the most eye-catching changes we have seen to how organisations work during this crisis – such as the increasing dependence on key online communication and collaboration tools such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams, as well as the rise of the ‘hybrid office’ – are very much here to stay.
The term ‘hybrid office’, by the way, refers to the ever-more normalised tendency at any one time for organisations to have some of their employees working from home, while others are based in the office near (but responsibly distanced from) colleagues.
Now is the time, then, to consider how your firm can further embed changes that could help to bring real benefits to its agility amid the unpredictable conditions almost all businesses now face, and the quality of service you provide.
Voice, data and mobile services by Gamma or a similarly renowned provider, for example, could help to further level the field between your remote and office-based employees with regard to day-today, both internal and external communication and collaboration.
Develop operational resilience
Another thing that the pandemic has brought sharp focus upon, is the vulnerability of many of the global supply chains and service networks on which organisations depend.
It’s no surprise, then – especially on a backdrop of changes in demand for products and services across the sectors – that many firms are now redesigning their operations and supply chains, so that they’re better shielded against any future shocks and restrictions that the virus could yet bring.
The progressive regionalisation of supply chains is not a trend solely attributable to the coronavirus, but it is certainly another one that the pandemic has accelerated.
Prioritise the safety and wellbeing of your workers
Alas, this particular step doesn’t ‘go without saying’ to quite the extent that it should among some organisations, even at this stage of the crisis.
So, it’s crucial that your firm is constantly looking afresh at how it is catering to its employees’ safety and wellbeing as the threats posed by the virus continue to linger.
Are you communicating as openly and transparently with your personnel as you should be? Does your firm have the flexible work arrangements in place to allow for safe working by your staff – remotely, if need be? Are your company’s current practices aligned with the latest guidance and rules issued by government and health officials?
As you can see from the above, getting your business ready for the uncertain picture of the post-COVID-19 era will not be the work of a moment. Implementing such steps as the aforementioned, however, could be integral to your firm’s efforts to bolster competitiveness and readiness for whatever the looming months and years ultimately bring.