When the UK entered lock-down just over 8 weeks ago, many business owners stepped upon fairly unstable ground. For most, what’s coming next still isn’t that much clearer, meaning long term plans and adjustments have to be put in place for the ‘foreseeable future’, not just as temporary fixes.
On 23rd March, most companies found that the day to day operations of their business had to change, and change quickly, if they were going to survive the lock-down and what came with it. So, what business lessons have we learnt from the pandemic that we can apply more permanently to fight against any future uncertainty?
1. Stay flexible
For many businesses, employees having to work remotely has opened up an entirely new realm of possibilities. Whilst the shift to digital communication over face to face has brought with it some technical challenges, businesses who already embraced a level of flexibility would no doubt found the transition to be smoother.
Many business owners have been pleasantly surprised at how well their team have adapted to this new way of working – leading many to contemplate flexible hours and an increased focus on remote working regardless of whether guidelines on social distancing relax in the near future.
2. Communication is king
Strong lines of communication has always been a massive aspect of running and maintaining a successful business – but this has never been more imperative now that we’ve been moved in to lock-down. Be it between you and your coworkers or your business and your customers, staying connected and being on hand to provide knowledge, advice and even comfort has never been more valuable.
Forced to move away from face to face conversations, many of us have quickly diversified into alternate ways of keeping in touch. From traditional phone calls to online video conferencing – a number of platforms have proven that there are many powerful tools out there that can keep a business connected. It’s important that this focus be maintained no matter what the future holds.
3. Get digital
Whilst we were all likely aware of the looming threat COVID-19 posed at the beginning of the year, the sudden imposition of complete lock down would have caught many off guard. All at once businesses were forced to think on their feet to find ways to work around issues that didn’t exist in their office environment. Moving forwards, it’s imperative that business owners have contingency plans in place to ensure ‘business as usual’ is maintained no matter what.
Investing in cloud based technology and shared drives, such as Dropbox or SharePoint means being unable to access your work computer is no longer an issue. Businesses have also turned to third-party call handlers, like MoneyPenny, to ensure their call lines stay open for their customers. Having a continuity plan in place before the unexpected happens means less disruption for your business, your employees and your customers.
4. Keep an eye on your overheads
It shouldn’t take a pandemic to trigger a deep dive in to what you class as a business ‘nice to have’ and a business ‘necessary’. When business is going well, it can be easy to start paying for things that, upon reflection, we don’t really need! Keeping your overheads where they need to be will reduce the amount of cutting down you have to do should something unexpected happen.
Outsourcing can be a great way of making sure you’re only paying for the support you need, when you need it. There are a number of sites like Fiverr and Freelancer that can help to connect you to a variety of talent at really reasonable prices.