The biggest shock in living memory, COVID has affected all of our lives, and there can’t be a business in existence that hasn’t had to make some changes.
So, in the future, how will we see businesses adapting to the so-called ‘new normal’ and what can business owners do to make sure that they are fit for the future?
In this piece, we’ll look at six things you can do to adapt your business and your frame of mind to cope with the new normal.
#1 Remember That You Are in It as a Team
Reactions to the COVID crisis from business owners was interesting.
Some owners completely cut their workforce loose and thought only about profit. In one example in the UK, a hotel closed made its workers redundant and then evicted them from their rooms with no notice!
Sadly, examples like this have not been hard to find. However, we’d argue that the companies best placed to come out of this crisis well are the ones who saw this as a challenge for the business to meet as a team.
Microsoft pledged early on to support its hourly-paid workers through COVID and agreed to pay their normal wage even if their hours were reduced whilst Google established a fund to help staff and vendors to take sick leave if they were diagnosed with symptoms.
The best-placed companies understand that their business needs to be committed and have enthusiastic workers at all levels and so an empathetic understanding of the needs of people is the number 1 priority.
#2 Communication Is the Key
Pretending nothing is happening or keeping your cards close to your chest isn’t an option.
While we’re not advocating telling people all of your trade secrets, we are saying that it is essential to communicate with staff, suppliers, and customers about the crisis, what you are doing to keep them safe and how it will affect your business.
By keeping the lines of communication open you can keep people onside but remember that communication isn’t a one-way process.
Be open to feedback about how you are doing and the ways that other companies are coping with the new normal as by doing this you can start to adopt best practice methods for coping.
#3 Build in Agility
We’ve seen many companies do well during the crisis and almost without exception, this has been in great part down to the fact that they have remained flexible.
Scottish company Brewdog knew that with the closure of pubs, their main income stream would dry up overnight and so they switched their plant to making antibacterial hand sanitizer.
We know that there is a likelihood in the future of COVID returning and there being local lockdowns. So an agile business that can switch its operations to a different place, or even change what it produces ultimately can build in resilience.
Look for methods of building in this agility in your staffing requirements, buildings, and plant and your routes to market but, most importantly, build in an agile frame of mind because this is what the new normal will look like.
#4 Think About Ways to Serve the Greater Good
One of the things that has been striking about the response to the COVID crisis has been the consumer reaction towards businesses.
Companies that have been seen to be profiteering or have been acting in an unfeeling way have taken a lot of heat and it remains to be seen whether they will also suffer lasting brand damage.
Other businesses that have seen ways to give back to the society in which they live have had not only a nice PR bump but have also had an increase in both customer and staff engagement.
Tech company Zello has offered its push to talk system free to first responders anywhere in the world and whilst this is an altruistic gesture the good feeling that it generates across the board is never a bad thing.
#5 Consider Your Infrastructure
Retailers have had to think about how they interact with consumers, whether it be the use of Perspex screens or sanitizing baskets and trolleys at the entrance.
Hospitality companies have had to look at ways to serve their clientele more safely, and many have moved to a drive-through type system or for bars, takeaway exclusively.
All companies are looking at things like cash handling to avoid passing on the infection.
Contactless payment is without a doubt the way to go, so make sure that you have systems up and running, including handheld devices that can take payment by manual keying.
Merchant service provider UTP Group has an excellent selection of payment solutions that can help with this and you should also check out their virtual terminal and online gateways for online sales.
So, think about how you can interact with your customers in a safer manner and what infrastructure changes you will need to make to ensure everyone’s safety.
#6 Stay Alert
We understand so much more about COVID now than we did 6 months ago.
We can see which countries have done well and which ones not so well.
We can also see the sorts of things that work to contain the spread of the virus.
But we also need to make sure that we stay alert as businesses. It’s not time to take our foot off the gas because a new flare-up can happen at any time and then we’d almost be back to square one.
Businesses need to stay alert, be aware of what is happening in the wider world and be ready to adapt at a moment’s notice.
By staying alert, you can make sure that you fully utilise the agility that you have built into your company.
The New Normal Won’t Necessarily Be Normal
Whilst we can have a good guess at what life will be like in a post-COVID world, we can’t be entirely certain.
The truth is that things are changing by the day and as we understand more about the virus we start to understand different ways to cope.
The overall message has to be to stay alert, flexible and open-minded and you can ensure that your business is fit to cope with the new normal.
business meeting wearing masks -DepositPhotos