In the last couple of years, the pandemic has heavily impacted many industries. Some companies lost revenue, laid off workers, and even stopped operations temporarily. Despite the unprecedented global pandemic, businesses and companies are learning to cope with the difficulties COVID-19 has introduced.
Business owners and leaders have had to adjust to the “new normal” and thus, the workplace changed drastically. Learning to adjust to new situations and preparing for post-COVID require leaders to introduce changes to business operations.
One of the most significant changes due to the pandemic is the shift to remote work. Businesses had to take the necessary precautions to reduce the spread of the virus. As such, a large number of businesses allowed work-from-home (WFH) arrangements.
Offices turned empty as employees set up their own offices in their homes. For some, this meant relegating a desk and a specific room for work. For others, this looked like working from the dining table.
Now that restrictions are less stringent, some businesses have gone back to in-person operations but others chose either a hybrid or optional WFH setup.
Even though their employees could resume working in the office, business managers and leaders found these new systems work well for their teams. This is why companies are now considering permanent hybrid set-ups as opposed to reverting to physically reporting to the office every day.
Another way businesses have learned to cope with the coronavirus crisis is by reassessing their workforce to better adjust to remote work. Employers hired new employees like social media managers or considered outsourcing branches such as accounting.
While no cookie-cutter method works for everyone, businesses could benefit from gathering insights from their employees and leaders as to which setup should be put into place.
Planning for Crisis
While a global pandemic is hard to predict, many businesses that had an emergency plan benefited from having one. Crisis planning helps build resilience within your business and can be valuable in almost any unexpected situation. Indeed, having an emergency plan and a resilient workforce can help you stand out from other companies without this foresight.
Competitiveness is related to a business’s resilience, as well. As such, competitive businesses are more likely to be connected with their buyers, manufacturers, and other partners. Small enterprises are especially in need of a stronger and more direct connection with their stakeholders.
Digitalizing the Business
Out of necessity, many businesses brought their operations to the digital world. Today, some of them don’t even think it’s necessary to go back to solely in-person business.
For example, retailers have focused more on e-commerce and digital marketing channels due to customers staying at home. Art galleries started live streaming to show new inventory items and share stories about their artwork. Similarly, if you have a small staff, live streaming can help you serve two purposes: connect to your audience and increase sales.
Transportation companies have had to adjust to customers’ higher standards in safety and health. As such, no-contact check-ins and remote communication solutions were used.
Companies have adjusted to the new normal by getting their business online and focusing on digital marketing as compared to pre-pandemic times. Digital solutions also offer something difficult to perform in-person: data analytics.
Having insight into customers’ behaviors and preferences can change how a business approaches future operations. Meanwhile, being able to forecast future trends enables leaders to create data-backed solutions and innovations.
Because of the recent relaxation in restrictions, some businesses have decided to go back to work in-person. Because the situation before 2020 and the current times are different, team leaders and members alike have to pay more attention to health and cleanliness.
Disinfectants, alcohol, and hand sanitizers are present in the post-COVID workplace. Many establishments have also introduced technology like digital thermometers, no-contact alcohol dispensers, and contact tracing.
Safety can come in various forms depending on your industry, but here are a few ways businesses have employed safety and health concerns on multiple levels:
- Scheduled in-person appointments in advance
- Establishment of COVID-19 protocols based on medical recommendations
- Employee training, especially customer-facing ones
- Detailed steps on how to conduct business if there is a surge or heightening of restrictions
- HR initiatives focusing on employee safety and health
- Free face masks for employees, customers, and visitors
- Adjusted business hours to make time for sanitizing and cleaning
- Online delivery or pick-up services
- Paid sick leaves for employees who have symptoms of COVID-19
- Regular employee meetings
- Social distancing markers and wearing of face mask policies
- Support for employees who struggled with or had a loved one struggle with COVID-19
Asking for your employees’ experience and listening well can improve your overall business. This practice helps the employees feel more open and improves trust between you and your employees.
Ask your employees for suggestions, as well. Communicating that you value their ideas and are willing to listen to what they have in mind can greatly improve the employee experience. It also helps them form a sense of community and find meaning in their work.
Remember, organizations that are highly engaged are twice more likely to communicate clearly, listen well, provide frequent feedback, and form strong affinity between leaders and their teams.
Listening to feedback also helps you make decisions that can benefit everyone. You will feel more confident when making decisions like changing communication platforms or scaling a team on a budget.
The past two years have introduced new challenges to business owners and leaders, and you must adapt to thrive. Different industries have coped by exploring different work setups, planning for unexpected crises, digitalizing their business, prioritizing health and safety, and listening to feedback
Regina del Rosario is from Booth & Partners, a Seattle-based company with operations in the Philippines. With a solid background in conducting interviews with multiple candidates to identify the one with the most potential. Hired over 100 applicants for positions in dozens of industries and campaigns, at levels ranging from interns to upper-level management.