The COVID-19 has pushed businesses towards economic recession, causing interruptions in continuity. The crisis’s longevity has left global companies no choice but to rethink their strategy from a whole new perspective.
COVID-19 is not the first crisis that has hit us badly. The Great Recession (the period of economic downturn) of the late 2000s exposed businesses to similar uncertainty and crisis but also showed that recovery is possible.
However, the course to that recovery would require businesses to batten down the hatches with strategic planning.
COVID-19 Impact on Business & Workforce — Managing the Change
Traditionally, implementing a change in strategy in any organization takes months or even years to come into effect. But, the tables have turned in the wake of COVID-19 as the strategy that would have ideally taken months and years to implement, requires it to be adapted in days and weeks.
It is the test of your agility and the zeal to respond to the changing dynamics of your respective industry. This brings us to rethink and revise the core approach and make efforts to go out with the old and in with the new.
First and foremost, business leaders need to come together and answer — What are the risks and uncertainties of skewing across the pre-decided path? How the COVID-19 impact on businesses & workforce is changing the game? Here are some factors to ponder upon.
Once clear, sequential steps to business continuity and recovery can be framed.
One of the rules in my world is that it’s hard to catch up, and even harder to get ahead, once you fall behind. — Eric Schmidt, American Businessman & Software Engineer
How COVID-19 Impacts Your Business
1. The Rate of Virus Spread Across Your Region
It is imperative to analyze the number of people affected as COVID-19 continues to spread. What do the charts say? Is the government planning to continue with the lockdown, is it partially lifted, or is the order nearing its term?
You would have to understand the ongoing situation and act accordingly.
It is important to have awareness around:
- Total count of people affected
- Workplace safety measures
- The do’s and don’ts of social distancing
- Government imposed guidelines
- Monitoring employee health
The measures you take at an early stage will not only ensure the good health of your employees but will also be a stepping stone towards ensuring business continuity. The sooner, the better! Successful organizations are the ones that are taking on a pragmatic approach to deal with the problem.
2. The ‘Can’ and ‘Cannot’ for Your Business
Either your business operations can thrive in a remote setup, or they cannot. The answer lies in your business model. If your business holds the capacity to shift its operation over the virtual network, it should be strongly considered.
In case, it is the other way around, consider how you can defy the self-imposed constraints to embrace a new business model to weather the impact of COVID-19. To a surprise, many businesses have already been reorienting their business models lately.
You could do that too! Go the extra mile and consider opportunities around the following parameters:
- Businesses that are in demand
- Redeploying available resources
- How and what technologies can help
- Outsourcing SaaS product development
- Seeking help from technical consultants
If you do not take the leap now, chances of losing out due to the economic impact of the crisis are inevitable.
3. Risks Involved in the Absence of Physical Workplaces
Analyze both the top and the bottom lines of moving to a remote setup. The idea is to beat the odds of digital transformation failure and emerge as a truly resilient organization.
You have chosen your path towards success, and have been moving in the definite direction for years. But, what if the bridge in your way is broken. Wouldn’t you have to reroute your path across the bridge? This is called problem-solving, and that is something that will lead you ahead of the pack.
So, make sure you know the risks of changing your paths when the impact of COVID-19 on your business leaves no other option. Here is what you need to solve for:
- Risks of having a virtual infrastructure network
- The impending data security issues
- Workforce productivity errors
- Perils of communication gap
- The complications around administrating workforce
4. The Availability of PoC for Remote Work
Remote work has been there for years. In fact, businesses such as GitLab have been operating in an “All Remote” setup since the very beginning. Now, the COVID-19 impact on businesses urges them to follow their footsteps.
But, have you ever had a running remote-work model, i.e., does your organization support a PoC (Proof-of-Concept) for remote setup? Even if the answer is affirmative, most of the companies have had a hybrid approach in the past — work from home, accompanied by working from a physical space.
On average, 37% of companies around the world run on a hybrid-remote (part of the team works in-office, part of the team works remotely) setup.— GitLab, The Remote Work Report
Contrarily, the sheer absence of a PoC does not imply that you can’t embrace the new idea of work during the COVID-19 crisis. Your organization can start contemplating on:
- Remote stack for communication & collaboration
- The availability of working internet for your employees
- Comprehending the hardware & software needs of your teams
- The cloud infrastructure service that best suit business needs
As there is not much time on the clock to build & validate the PoC, you would have to drive the vehicle while manufacturing & innovating it side by side.
5. The Areas that Demand Cost Cutting
Cost-cutting is natural and evident in a time of crisis, but requires strategic planning, and not panic responses. Even the last recession points out this fact.
79 percent of all companies have cut costs in response to the global economic crisis—but only 53 percent of executives think that doing so has helped their companies weather it. — McKinsey
Before you offer furloughs, implement layoffs, and minimize your resources, consider the critical areas that require belt tightening.
Sometimes, strengthening the business structure by investing in better technology can give you bang for the buck.
Before the COVID-19 impact on your business compels to implement cost-cutting, it becomes essential to consider:
- The areas that drive the most value for your business
- The low-profit areas that can be done away with
- The existing market trends that can help your business
- The probability of partnering with competitors
- Your savings that can be utilized in building a new business model
- Diverting costs of running physical spaces towards implementing remote work
Having an understanding around these factors drives a well thought out cost-cutting.
How COVID-19 Impacts Your Workforce
The extent of COVID-19 impact on businesses is such that people across the world are on the verge of unemployment or underemployment.
A significant rise in unemployment and underemployment in the wake of the virus is estimated. — International Labor Organization
But, you can fight the odds by analyzing the impact of the business disruption on the workforce. It will help them in meeting their work commitments. This, in turn, will benefit both ways — the organizations stay afloat, and the employees keep their jobs.
1. The Effect of the New Reality on Your Workforce
As the shadows of COVID-19 linger on, it pushes away normalcy, and employees find it taxing to sink in the new reality. It is then that they look forward to the leaders for guidance and assurance.
The plan-ahead team needs to analyze the state of mind of their workers and keep them in a loop around critical business decisions. Set communication guidelines so that anyone can reach out to you in case they are facing any challenges.
Knowing the answers to the following should take the front seat:
- What are the challenges of the workforce?
- Do they have an agile mindset?
- Are they prepared for the new work-model?
- What are their expectations from you?
2. Factors that Will Affect Productivity
Some of the factors jeopardizing productivity could be:
- Fear of getting infected
- Fear of layoffs
- Missing social company
- Absence of work-life balance
- Missing clarity of goals and purpose
- Lack of motivation
The plan-ahead team needs to get a more in-depth insight into all such factors and run surveys across the teams to understand their plights and offer solutions.
3. Impact on Communication & Collaboration
Everything is easy in the physical environment — conference room meetings for communication, seminars & workshops for learning, and guest lectures for motivation.
But, COVID-19 changes everything, which makes it necessary to analyze how the lack of interaction will affect the business, and what you can do about it.
You need to set a foundation for the new normal now as remote setups become a reality. Your plan-ahead team needs to look into:
- The best video communication applications
- Ensuring the availability of contact information of employees
- Guidelines & protocols around communication
- Availability of cloud storage services such as Google Drive
- Calendar applications for scheduling meetings
- Task management tools for measuring progress & performance
This helps in fostering productivity with a focus on interactions.
Employee performance improves up to 20 percent when employees are able to interact. — On The Clock
It is all about constructing a strong organizational culture, whether working online or offline.
4. Measuring the Skills and Talent Gap of Your Employees
When shifting to working remotely, the talent and skills of your workforce might get challenged. What they have known, and what they know, might not be enough in the coming times. This is because the new idea of work disrupts the “how” and “where” of the work environment.
This brings the responsibility to the plan-ahead team to analyze the current skills of their employees to shuffle roles and responsibilities if required.
Framing a strategy along the following parameters can help:
- Redirecting expenses towards online learning
- Emphasizing on upskilling and reskilling (remotely)
- Including online courses for continued career growth
- Motivating employees to learn something new
Nurturing skills and talent of your workforce should be the focus. This helps ensure the contribution of the team towards the common goal — making remote teams work while continuing operations.
As we enter the dark phase of uncertainty, having an in-depth understanding of the entire situation becomes the imperative of our time.
Analyzing the COVID-19 impact on businesses and the workforce will give you clarity on the path ahead. How do you think these factors will influence your business, and what actions should you take to reverse the adverse effects that follow.
Here’s the right approach — Recognize your strengths and weaknesses alike, acknowledge the challenge, and strategize to take your power back.
Let exploring uncharted territories be your next normal!