Doing business in times of COVID-19 goes beyond working from home and Zoom meetings. During the FT Global Boardroom digital conference earlier this week, the Chief Scientist of the World Health Organisation (WHO), Soumya Swaminathan, warned:
'I would say in a four to five-year time frame, we could be looking at controlling this.'
How do we navigate this unprecedented time of business unusual? In this article, we offer 10 practical ways to operate and sustain your business in the new normal.
1. Manage Expectations
Realize that people around the world is experiencing this and you are not alone. Customer confidence will return, and our job right now is to stay alive, prioritizing sustainability over profit.
2. Go Digital
Streamline the company's online presence and messaging i.e. social media, website. Invest in better customer service experience, more user friendly online platforms. Make it easy for your customers to find and engage with your business. (Find out how we can help localize your website content and social media messaging: https://www.am-interpretiv.com/).
3. Health and Safety SOP
Institute thermal scanning and contact tracing for both employees and customers. Encourage good hygiene practices by preparing a sanitation station complete with hand sanitizers and cleaning supplies for general premise sanitation.
4. Prepare for Better Remote Work and Virtual Meetings
Set specific days in the week for company-wide meetings, department meetings etc. Working from home may be challenging, the routine of pre-scheduled meetings will provide some structure to the week. Invest in an ergonomic work space, yes it's time to ditch the soffice (sofa-office) and buy proper work desk and chair. (Find out how we can help you communicate with international clients via B2B remote simultaneous interpretation: https://www.am-interpretiv.com/)
5. New Financial SOP
It's understandable for businesses to guard their cash during this time, so be prepared to pay/collect cash in advance and/or forego credit arrangements for now. Payment terms may have to be more fluid, offer discounts/package rates if possible to attract more sales.
6. Adapt and Pivot
Get creative, what can your business change/add/create apart from the usual products that's more relevant to your customers? Take a note from Airbnb's playbook; in April they launched Airbnb Online Experiences, a curated service that offers experiences like Sangria and Secrets with Drag Queens, Meet the Woolly Sheep on My Farm and much more. It's like an online course, but way more fun.
7. Restructure the Workforce
The Unite Nation's International Labor Organization predicts 1.6 billion informal economy workers could suffer “massive damage” to their livelihoods. In the second quarter of 2020, COVID-19 may cost the equivalent of 3-5 million full-time jobs. Some businesses may have to implement layoffs, furlough, half pay or flexi/reduced hours. Be clear, be kind and follow protocol, there is no "right" way to do this.
8. Training and Up-skilling
Employees may have to adopt new skills or learn to multitask, i.e. an admin executive may take this opportunity to learn digital content creation and be responsible for the company's social media presence. With more demand for contact-less services, the staffing size may have to be reduced and the remaining employees would have to be multi-skilled.
9. Accept Help
Governments around the world care about businesses especially SMEs as they make up a large percentage of the market. Search and apply for any assistance offered by local governments to help sustain your business operations.
10. Charge Ahead!
Don't be afraid to keep on keeping on despite the challenges your business might be facing. Get that client, secure that funding, launch that new product!
Disclaimer: The list is not exhaustive, nor does it claim to be legal advice in any way. We encourage you to get creative and find more ways to sustain your business in the new normal.