Globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly disrupted the way companies operate. According to a survey by the Institute for Supply Management in March 2020, nearly 75% of companies are seeing capacity disruptions in their supply chains. Apart from supply chain disruptions, companies face liquidity and debt challenges. Not only that, companies from various sectors face the unprecedented challenge of implementing ‘work from home’ arrangements within a short timeline whilst ensuring that their operations are disrupted to a minimum. Moving forward, how can leaders navigate their businesses in the ‘next normal’?
1. Communicate regularly with your stakeholders
In this time of great uncertainty, companies need to make sure that they communicate regularly with their stakeholders – Customers and Employees.
For some companies, they choose to focus on customer retention instead of revenue generation by reaching out to their existing customer base, ramping up their customer service by providing personalisation services. This is an effective way of ensuring you stay on ‘top of mind’ of your customers even in the aftermath of the pandemic. Many companies, especially SMEs, have been strategically utilising social media to update their customers on their status, i.e whether they’re open for business and whether customers can order through an app or request for delivery.
With regard to your employees, it is crucial that business leaders continuously align the team and regularly communicate with employees to update them on the status of the business and what the future holds for them. At a time where uncertainty is rife, it is crucial that leaders have a clear strategy for communication. When employees are unsure of how the company is responding to disruption, it creates unnecessary stress and causes them to be less engaged with the business, which leads to lower productivity. Reduce uncertainty by communicating openly and frequently with employees. Schedule regular town halls to address employees’ concerns and provide updates via email as soon as possible whenever there are new updates. How you say it matters too – email updates that are concise and clear would drive the message home far more effectively.
2. Rethink your operations
For the entertainment and F&B business, physical distancing may become a new reality that necessitates new business models and the redesign of physical space. For manufacturing businesses, this could take the form of repurposing machinery to produce new lines of product, as seen in the case of Louis Vuitton owner (LVMH) where it used its perfume production line to start making hand sanitiser. In the post-pandemic era, it is crucial that companies are agile and flexible in rethinking the way they carry out business. McKinsey defines Agility as “the ability of an organisation to renew itself, adapt, change quickly, and succeed in a rapidly changing, ambiguous, turbulent environment.”
It may be useful for business leaders to consider these questions: Do you still require a physical work space? Should you consider switching to a 4-day workweek? Companies need to look at that to see how they can accommodate their employees moving forward. During this time, companies ought to rethink their operations and consider how they can be more flexible to take into consideration new ways of working.
In this regard, many business leaders are concerned about managing a remote workforce because of the lack of workforce visibility. With JustLogin’s in-house JustClock application, you would be able to have real-time visibility of your employees and map records for location overview. This on-the-go solution is also available on mobile devices, with a facial recognition AI feature to help employee clock in their work hours. Not only that, the geofencing function helps to create a virtual boundary around the employee so they remain focused on their work and ultimately facilitate trust between themselves and their managers.
3. Accelerate digital adoption
There is no better time than now for companies to leverage technology solutions to accelerate digital adoption. Research shows that 2020 will see an increase in online penetration in grocery that will fast track the creation of several ‘Super Apps’, arising from the pandemic. With that said, customers are not the only ones experiencing change in behaviour. Companies will also have to get used to the changing landscape. Businesses that survive the aftermath of COVID-19 will likely be companies that were able to adopt new operating models by accelerating digital adoption. This may include the incorporation of data-driven decision making and implementing change management. One aspect of change management includes reskilling the workforce to utilise project management softwares. This will enable staff that are working remotely to have clarity on project timelines, track their own KPIs and ensure transparency.
Studies have shown that over 40 million people will make ‘work from home’ a regular part of their job long after the pandemic. To put it simply – remote working is here to stay. As such, companies that are still utilising on-premise software may find themselves struggling at a time where the global workforce is embracing remote-working arrangements and should consider making the switch to a cloud-based HR software to help with the day to day operations involving payroll, performance management and expenses management.
Even after restrictions gradually begin to ease, it will not be ‘business as usual’ for companies. To thrive and remain relevant, companies need to figure out new ways of operating in the post-pandemic era. Companies can lay the foundation for the ‘next normal’ by exercising effective communication, rethinking business operations and accelerating digital adoption. It is crucial that business leaders proactively steer the ship and develop a strategic blueprint to plan the way forward for their companies as they navigate through the aftermath of COVID-19.