2020 was looking like a great year for your business. The economy was looking promising, consumer confidence was on the up and your team were firing on all cylinders.
Then came the COVID-19 outbreak and the subsequent lockdown. You had to learn to forget everything you thought you knew about business (and your business) almost overnight. As you scrambled to maintain whatever margin you could and keep from going under you likely had to scale back a great deal of your operation. You probably had to send the vast majority of your workforce away to work from home at reduced pay. You may even have had to make painful redundancies. Not to mention the huge blow that the coronavirus pandemic dealt to consumer confidence.
Still, as we’ve discussed previously, when the dust has settled and the wheels of commerce resume their previous speed there will likely be both winners and losers that emerge in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. Will your business be one of the former or the latter? Maybe it’s a matter of perspective. Because there are some important lessons to be learned from the crisis, and opportunities to bounce back stronger, leaner and more agile than ever…
It has ushered in an era of introspection
Adversity has a way of bringing out the best in us. When things are going well, we can tend to rest on our laurels. We can fall into familiar patterns and take our success for granted. But when the rug is whipped out from under us we learn some very important lessons from the subsequent fall.
Now’s the time to take a good long look into how your business runs and determine whether it’s really as agile as it should be. It’s time to do some Digital Due Diligence and make sure that you’re still responding to the needs of your market. To look for operational inefficiencies that could slowly erode your profit margins. Not to mention looking into your own business and working practices to find ways in which you could get more done in less time.
There’s never been a better time to take a good long look at your business. And you may never get an opportunity for introspection like this again.
It can cement customers’ trust in your brand
People are scared, confused and frustrated. They want answers, they want reassurance and they want a sense of continuity. They need to know that maybe the world isn’t falling to pieces all around them after all.
This is your opportunity to step up to then plate and show your customers that they can trust you. To provide them with the sense of continuity and reassurance that they crave. If you can continue to do the same thing for them in the same time frame at the same place, it’s one less thing that they have to worry about. The psychological effects of which cannot be underestimated.
Come through for your customers in this difficult time and they’ll be likely to remember it long after the lockdown has lifted.
It can show you just how much could be saved in overhead costs
Remote working may be something of a mixed blessing for your employees. There’s certainly evidence to suggest that your team can be more productive when working from home. But the exceptional circumstances may not be all that conducive to experiencing their best working days at home.
Even setting aside the inherent worry, stress, sadness and emotional fragility that we’re all feeling right now, there may be other impediments to employee productivity at home. They may be using a network that was never intended for business use. And if their kids are playing games online or streaming Netflix throughout the day, this will only slow them down further. Speaking of their kids, they may need to take time out of their day to homeschool, or at the very least check on, their little ones.
However, once they’ve crested the learning curve, employees may actually find that they enjoy working remotely. If this is the case, you might want to consider phasing in returns to the workplace or allowing employees to work from home some of the time.
This can save a great deal in overhead costs throughout the year. Fewer employees on-site means less energy, water and gas used. It means fewer paper towels, rolls of toilet paper and reams of printer paper used. It also means fewer cars going to and from your office and less business waste. And anything that allows you to reduce your environmental footprint can only strengthen your brand’s reputation.
It may see your employees return to work re-energized
If your employees decide they’d rather work from home (on a part-time or full-time basis) you win. But if they are anxious to return to the workplace, you also win! While you will likely need to implement social distancing guidelines when you first reopen your doors, there’s a good chance that your employees will be delighted to be back. They’ll have missed their colleagues, their workspace…and maybe even you! Re-energized they’ll likely be super productive and enthusiastic in ways that your customers will surely notice.
Just make sure that you capitalize on this momentum.
The coronavirus pandemic is the perfect time to re-evaluate your incentive and bonus programs, to ensure that your employees feel valued and motivated and to enjoy the best working relationship you’ve ever had with your team. If you’re looking for a formal way to do this, employee recognition platforms can be extremely helpful.
These look and behave just like social media platforms. Indeed, Facebook even has its own called Workplace. They can be used to formally recognize the achievements of teams or individual employees. They also allow for peer recognition, so that your team members can congratulate one another for awesome efforts and accomplishments. Data from these platforms can even be used in employee development or appraisal situations.
As we can see, although the coronavirus pandemic has already proven the unmaking of some businesses, it has the potential to strengthen yours and usher in a new chapter in your journey as an entrepreneur!