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Spain, New Zealand, and Thailand are beginning to relax lockdown. In Canada, provinces are preparing for some businesses to reopen. But that doesn’t mean we should expect pre-pandemic levels of business any time soon. The surge in unemployment means consumer demand will be reduced for some time. B2B demand is also down as businesses face reduced sales, and supply chains disintegrate. And of course, to prevent a potential second wave, social distancing will still be with us.
As we’ve all learned, things change rapidly in a Covid-19 world. But we might be seeing the first tentative shoots of an economic restart appearing. This week’s blog looks at four areas businesses need to rethink to recover as quickly and as safely as possible. I hope it helps.
There’s two kinds of recovery in the Covid world: those that have been positively effected (think Amazon) and those negatively affected (think anything where people come into close contact).
In the early stages of recovery, rethinking operations in the former means focusing on the inefficiencies that resulted from a rapid expansion of ops in what may have been a “seat of the pants approach”. In the latter situation, rethinking ops means reducing costs to help your business break even as soon as possible.
That might mean rethinking some of the ways of working you thought were necessary. Take Open Text, for example. It’s one of Canada’s biggest tech companies. As it heads into recovery, among other measures, it’s permanently closing half its offices to continue home working post-pandemic.
There is no business as usual. What you did before Covid-19 won’t translate to what you do now. As you edge into recovery, ask yourself, “What have you learned from this experience that can benefit your business?”
In our brave new post Covid world, there’ll be some products we need less—oil for example—and some we’ll need more—PPE comes to mind. Those are obvious products, but there’s many more. Whether your business is 200 years old, or a year old, its founders began by seeing a gap in the market and designed a product to fill that gap.
That kind of thinking is needed now. It may mean letting go of some of your product lines, it may mean developing new ones. In service industries, that could be an easier transition. In primary industries it’ll be harder but still necessary.
Ask yourself, “If I were starting my business today, what gaps in the market would I focus on?” Use your answer as a starting point for breaking even early in recovery.
Rethink How to Protect Your People
In the past, health and safety was about controlling hazards, preventing injuries, and promoting a positive health and safety culture. Today it’s also about reducing or eliminating the spread of the coronavirus.
Social distancing will likely be with us for a long time. In open plan offices with employees sitting beside each other, the risks of a second wave are obvious. But that’s not the only risk. In-person meetings now come with a health warning, as does any staff gathering.
But there’s room to phase in the return of office staff. Consider returning your essential staff first with social distancing in place, and maintaining remote working for others. This hybrid-model is flexible enough to allow shifts in working locations as restrictions ease.
Rethinking how you use your physical office is a chance to rethink working relationships. If your business was prone to silo working, how can you develop different team structures to reduce those silos. Ask yourself, “Do networked virtual teams make sense? What about physical mixed function areas? Or might in-office teams partnered with virtual colleagues work?”
Gone are the days of long strategy sessions that create three or four action points that no one puts into effect. This is the time for speed of thought, and speed of focused action.
Because the world is changing rapidly, strategies will need to adapt quickly. That may not mean throwing out the strategy you labored over last year; but it does mean not being attached to it. If your business has been adversely effected by Covid-19, then your restart strategy needs to focus on revenue generation. It’s a two staged approach that looks to first break even, and then thrive.
Speed is your friend. Speed means we don’t have time for old patterns of thinking to cloud new ideas. It means we get and stay focused.
Help if You Need It
At Innate Leaders, we’re donating our expertise to help leaders develop new ways of thinking to help reduce layoffs, maintain supply chains, and address their business challenges, so businesses and people are financially viable six months from now.
If you’re a business who is struggling financially to adjust to the Covid-19 pandemic, we’ll help for free via video-conferencing to help you develop a mid-term strategy, or rethink how you do business.
There’s no criteria to fulfill. Just contact us and we’ll do whatever we can to help.
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