The COVID-19 pandemic is changing how we live and work – in ways we had not imagined earlier. Today’s new normal for businesses includes work-from-home (WFH) problems, issues like mental health, grappling with cash crunch and so on.
For businesses it seems most practical to switch somehow, to ‘survival mode’ now. In fact, many have already mobilized their crisis plans if they had them, or have quickly put something together if they didn’t – to survive.
Companies are learning to operate in “the new normal”. And, the focus is on implementing tactical steps to preserve the value of their business.
What are businesses doing to survive?
- Create your own pandemic guidelines: We have seen that total opening up of business, transport, etc have kept changing, with lockdowns being imposed again and again. Not much guidance has come from governments on how to keep businesses afloat either.
Now, businesses must try and figure out how to survive. Work out how to provide a safe environment for the team, but to do so while creating a whole new strategy for the business.
- Review condition workforce: The first priority is to establish safety of staff. Analyze where the staff are located and how many are in affected or vulnerable territories. Or are they following work-from-home mode? Upcoming travel plans will need to be reviewed, rescheduled or canceled. Be prepared to continuously refresh and update these policies as conditions evolve.
- Revisit your crisis and continuity plans: All businesses today, if efficiently run, has a crisis or continuity plan in place, and many will have a specific pandemic plan. But, nothing tests the theoretical plan quite like reality! So, revisit and finetune your plans.
- Get communication right: Employers have worked hard to keep their workforce informed, but at the same time, disinformation and confusion have surfaced along with the virus. Your employees (and external stakeholders) will be looking for reassurance from you that they are being protected and that the business is prepared. So, consistency and accuracy of messaging is the key, as is reassurance from the leaders of the organization. Authenticity and empathy are of paramount importance.
- Use scenario analysis: With uncertainty rife, and COVID-19 impacting businesses for months, scenario planning is a critical. What are the best- and worst-case scenarios? Is the business equipped to cope? What could be the impact in the longer term, for example, on working capital or even rents for offices, shops and restaurants, if public places are closed?
- Unexpected circumstances breed creativity: At the end, we must keep this top of mind – everything is not bad news! We can see recovery has started in a small way. And, as recovery continues, small business owners are more optimistic and are adapting to their new circumstances. Many businesses like – the hospitality business, restaurants, have got especially creative over the past few months.
Let’s face it – overall, it’s been an incredibly difficult time. No one has witnessed this challenge before, for this has been unprecedented. But there is a lot of creativity visible, amongst businesses. So, there is an opportunity, too. It is a question of – evolve or die!
- Keep other risks in mind: COVID-19 isn’t the only threat on the horizon. Often, businesses are most vulnerable when dealing with a crisis that is at the center of their attention. There are many other risks that your business can face, apart from the pandemic. Cybersecurity, for example, should always be top-of-mind. Conversation must shift from containment and prevention to protection of key workers in order to keep businesses running. National restrictions on movement and the gathering of people have come into force, and companies need to be agile to respond.
We must remember that recovery may take years. Those companies that are well-prepared will always recover more quickly.