Most would agree that COVID-19 is something they didn’t anticipate. Nor did they imagine the impact it would have on their businesses during the year that followed. Because of the virus, companies, whether a large corporation or a Startup business, are dealing with situations everyday that take them out of their comfort zone. Here are six ways business owners are rising to the challenges the pandemic has placed in front of them.
1. Implement Safety Precautions
Regardless of the type of business, if it requires face-to-face contact, implementing safety measures is one of the most pressing business challenges. Enforcing social distancing, mask-wearing and hand washing may be difficult, but not as difficult as losing staff to the virus or being required to shut the business down. Failure to comply with protocols must be taken very seriously and addressed immediately. Communicate rules regarding quarantine after returning from business travel, and develop cleaning protocols to follow if an employee becomes infected with the virus. Make sure that both employees and customers are being protected.
2. Shift to Remote Work
Teleconferencing has never been more appreciated than in 2020, nor have the virtual private networks (VPNs) or telehealth services. Technology is making it possible for many people to continue to earn a living without going into an office and risking exposure to COVID-19. Companies are discovering that many jobs can be done just as efficiently from a remote location and may be asking themselves whether they actually need all of that expensive office space.
3. Get Creative
Companies, particularly those in the hospitality industry, are thinking outside the box and coming up with creative ways to keep their businesses going. Outdoor dining, curbside pickup and contactless food delivery have been a blessing, particularly for people in higher-risk categories. Plastic shields in front of teller stations have made banking safer, and marking floors with six-foot increments has helped people keep their distance in grocery stores, schools and polling places. The desire to continue operating is giving rise to workarounds people never imagined they’d need.
4. Be Proactive
It has been a tough year for business owners, but the virus has also taken its toll on the workforce. Communicating effectively with employees who are working remotely is more important than ever. Be mindful that they may be balancing work with homeschooling children or caring for infants. Provide financial and psychological support by implementing emergency assistance programs. Don’t let employees give up hope.
5. Crisis Response Plan
Give some thought to who would take over for key employees in their absence, should they become seriously ill, to ensure that operations can continue to run smoothly. Having experienced life during COVID-19 and witnessed its impact on their companies, many business owners are developing crisis response plans to meet this type of challenge should it happen again in the future. For example, it pays to consider alternate supply-chains for critical resources and designate approved substitutions. Most have also become aware that employee cross-training is essential.
6. Lessons Learned
Some companies are taking this opportunity to use their lessons learned under duress to make permanent, positive changes to the way they do business. While working from home was once considered a bad idea by some, given the inability to monitor employee productivity, business owners have learned that it is not only a good idea, it can save them money. Shared workstations for employees working in the field and remote work for those whose jobs can adapt to it may reduce overhead. The option to work remotely will also make many employees very happy.
The Bottom Line
Facing the challenges brought about by COVID-19 has been difficult for everyone. To survive the crisis, businesses must pivot quickly and make the necessary adjustments that will allow them to continue functioning. It will require flexibility, creativity and compassion. Implementing safety protocols is just the beginning. While some businesses may not make it, others are taking this opportunity to reimagine their business strategies using what they’ve learned during the pandemic.