Published Wednesday 14th October 2020

Every business has been affected by the COVID-19 lockdowns; whether the pandemic has incurred negative changes or provided an unexpected chance to thrive, no industry has been left unchanged.

One of the things that will now set a successful business apart from an unsuccessful one is the ability to re-evaluate plans following national lockdowns, proving an aptitude for resilience and adaptability.

Even now, uncertainty prevails with questions about local lockdowns and what businesses in different regions can do to rebuild.

Having an actionable plan that reassesses business strategy and helps to actively engage in business cost reduction will be an important step towards coming back stronger than before.

Re-Thinking Strategy and Implementing Changes

It is clear that the post-lockdown period is an unstable one; the threat of further restrictions loom over businesses making plans to get back on their feet.

In previous years, many major businesses have preferred planning and implementing strategies over multiple years. However, recent months have necessitated a reduction in time it takes to put new strategies into action.

Re-thinking traditionally slow bureaucratic strategies or processes is essential; businesses must show their willingness to adapt to uncertainty if they want to survive. With more focused goals and quick decision making, companies can commit to new, more sustainable practices.

Quick decisions made by dedicated teams have proven beneficial when trying to keep up with recent disruptions. Many organisations are seeing the benefits of making their plans and teams more streamlined.

There has also been evidence that more fluid leadership roles within smaller, more focused teams leads to more appropriate and successful leaders that are born from a focus on talent rather than experience.

Considering Financial Issues

For most businesses the financial strain that lockdown has engendered is the most significant concern.

Companies must re-evaluate their revenue streams and find out which areas they could be reducing costs in and, if possible, where they could be investing more resources.

Many businesses have been facing problems as suppliers demand payments that cannot be payed immediately. Detailed cash flow forecasts can be beneficial for organisations that want to be honest about their financial position and to show how they are planning to make all repayments.

While supplementing capital with loans can be an option, future plans should detail how the business can build operational cash flow back to pre-lockdown levels and beyond.

Committing to Digital

The halt during lockdown highlighted just how important embracing digital channels has become. A shift to digital has become more relevant over the past few years, but the virus has facilitated an accelerated growth and appreciation for its importance.

There has also been an uptake in companies using technology and advanced analytics to optimise their future strategies. As digitisation becomes the norm, operations of low-cost and high-flexibility will be implemented more frequently, allowing for an increase in productivity, quality and connectivity.

If employees require training for new digital-based skills, this should also be embraced and facilitated. Operations are likely to be altered across the board with repetitive, manual tasks being taken over by technological advancement and a rise in analytical or technical support roles.

Businesses should commit to and support these kinds of changes if they want to adapt to what to future is inevitably going to bring. Automation and digitisation were always going to generate major changes, but they have now been accelerated, and business’ plans must accelerate accordingly.

Encouraging Resilience and Adaptability

The COVID crisis has exposed the weaknesses and limitations of supply chains and other partners. Encouraging a secure and resilient business plan that doesn’t fall apart when one supplier is disrupted will be essential. A widespread reorganisation of supply chains is expected throughout sectors.

Business-as-usual is perhaps a thing of the past; with so many unpredictable changes, being able to adapt effectively is a central concern. Businesses must make plans for multiple eventualities that they have never had to consider before; they must ask themselves what they will do if we go into another complete lockdown or how they will adapt if a supplier is out of commission because of the virus.

Paving the Way to a New Identity and Culture

Changes may not be limited to business practices but may also extend to a company’s identity and culture.

With more people working from home, it is important to be more proactive when trying to cultivate a collective sense of resilience and identity. The most successful businesses that have shown their ability to adapt have also had a strong workplace identity with a shared standard of performance and priorities.

As external changes become more profound, internal changes should reflect a new way of working. Businesses shouldn’t rely on an old company culture or process that no longer makes sense for the future.

Prospective new partners, employees or customers will want to know how a business has adapted to the challenges posed by the virus; companies must be prepared to answer questions about how their identity and perspective, not just their revenue stream, has had to evolve.

Businesses should also be prepared to adapt to how their customer base will have changed over the lockdown period. Actively building back customer’s trust and cultivating a level of transparency will be key.

Prioritising Employee Safety

Re-imagining the workplace to fit in with the restrictions that the virus demands will be essential. The pandemic has brought about a change in how employees view their jobs and employers; many will be waiting to see how their employers value them and how invested they are in employee wellbeing. This is a chance for businesses to show their employees, and potentially their customers, where their priorities lie and to what extent they are willing to protect workers.

Many businesses will have already asked their employees to work from home where possible, but for sectors or companies where this is not an option, regulations must be enforced consistently.

Businesses must develop regular communication and dialogue with their employees. Workplaces must be clear about what precautions are being taken, whether this refers to frequent hand sanitising or mask-wearing. There must be a clear policy in place that adheres to local government guidelines to prevent any workplace coronavirus outbreaks.

Any changes geared towards safety must be sustainable; without the possibility of a vaccine in the immediate future, safety must remain a top priority now and in the coming months. Safety is yet another area where businesses must show how they can be adaptable and prepared to change.

If your business needs support with reducing expenses as part of your plans for the future, why not get in touch with our team? We’ve been working with businesses throughout the pandemic to help reduce operational costs and mitigate the challenges posed by these unprecedented times.