The business environment is facing a challenge unlike any it has seen before. Managers are faced with decisions and restrictions that make operations difficult, if not impossible, at their previous levels. Despite the difficulties, there are steps you can take to successfully manage your business through the pandemic and help it not only survive and possibly even grow.
1. Cut Back on Corporate Travel
In today’s global market, travel is a necessity for some businesses. However, now is not the best time to be hopping through cities that may or may not be the next COVID-19 hot spot. Seek out alternatives to travel like remote conferences, video walkthroughs of plants and shipping of samples for inspection. An added bonus of limiting business-related travel is that you will also eliminate what can add up to a major expense.
2. Develop Remote Work Arrangements
This is the time for flexibility. Many human resource offices that have previously frowned on remote work realize that productivity can actually increase when workers are given extra flexibility. There are some cybersecurity risks inherent in remote work, so be sure to take any necessary precautions. Even if you are not in a position to adopt a remote arrangement, you can reduce health risks by rescheduling meetings for a later date or holding them through an online platform. Having groups of people together in a conference room should be avoided if possible.
3. Keep Accurate Records
The more accurate your business records are, the better able you will be to keep up with changes. Invest in programs like accounting document management software that can help you keep up with costs and trends in revenue. Develop forecast models for cash flow so you can anticipate crunches and take proactive steps to lower costs and increase liquidity. Looking at least a full quarter into the future should give you plenty of time to take action. If you don’t already have significant liquid reserves or access to a line of credit, look into options before things get difficult.
4. Assess Your Supply Chain
The halt in Chinese production revealed major faults in the global supply chain. Now is the time to evaluate your supply chain and find any weak links. Do this before sourcing the necessary components and products becomes a problem. Look for supplies that are heavily sourced from a single area, and find a back source that you can tap if necessary. If you have offices in other regions, be sure to keep up with restrictions and guidelines that may affect operations there.
5. Communicate With Your Customers
Transparency is vital to building and maintaining trust with your customers. Communicate clearly and concisely with them about how the pandemic is affecting your business, the changes you are making in response and where you see your business going in the future. Leave room for changes since restrictions could change as case rates fluctuate or if there is a local outbreak.
6. Institute Appropriate Hygiene Practices
Finding disinfectant and sanitizer has been difficult for many businesses. However, bulk supplies are available and should be easily accessible to your employees. Place hand sanitizer stations throughout buildings and offices so everyone has access. Encourage frequent hand washing and other health-focused hygiene practices. Posters with instructions about workplace safety should be displayed where everyone can see them throughout the day. If physical distancing isn’t a possibility in your workplace, consider instituting a mask or face shield requirement. Barriers and temporary cubicles in open floorplans can help reduce the spread of germs.
7. Plan a Long-Term Strategy
It is too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day actions needed to get through a pandemic.
Resist that path, choosing instead to focus on the mid-and long-range future. Make plans for how you will emerge from shutdowns and stay at home orders with a stronger and renewed business. For example, you may find that flexible schedules can help increase employee satisfaction and reduce strain on office resources, and decide to adopt it as a permanent solution.
Navigating a business through a pandemic is no small feat. Implementing strategies that allow you to flex with and adapt to the crisis will help your business emerge successfully on the other side.