The pandemic has completely transformed the way that businesses operate and all companies have been forced to quickly adapt to survive. But now that the situation is starting to improve and there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is a lot of talk about getting back to normal. The hospitality industry is beginning to open up again and offices are starting to work at full capacity again, with safety measures in place.
For many people, these are positive changes that signify a return to normality, but is that really the best thing for your business? Although getting back to the way things were is good in some respects, the COVID crisis has highlighted a lot of potential problems that businesses were not necessarily aware of before. In some ways, the new way of doing things was more effective than the old way, so now is an important time to evaluate your business and see what lessons can be learned.
As you think about rebuilding your business, it’s important to carry some of these changes forward instead of reverting back to the way that things have always been done in the past. These are some of the most important areas to consider.
Working from home was the biggest change for all of us and if your business was not well-equipped for it, the transition may have been difficult. But once all of the systems were in place, you probably found that a lot of people worked just as effectively from home as they did from the office. While you might decide to bring everybody back into work and carry on as normal, you should consider the benefits of continuing with remote work in some capacity.
The cost savings are the most obvious benefit because offices are expensive. If many of your employees are working from home, you can get rid of your office and save yourself a lot of money. There are some great services that can help you facilitate this and you should consider getting a virtual office with reception services and mail forwarding services. This gives you the best of both worlds because you have the practicalities of an office while also having the flexibility and cost savings of remote work.
Alternatively, you might decide that you want a middle ground where people work from home sometimes and then come into the office a few days a week. This means that you need fewer desks, so you can downsize the office or even consider using remote working spaces.
When people were working at home while trying to juggle homeschooling and getting out to exercise, they didn’t work the same hours that they normally would. People would start later and work into the evening or get up early and get a headstart on things if that’s how they liked to work. This highlighted the fact that working 9 to 5 isn’t the most productive way to work for some people and you don’t necessarily need to work 40 hours a week to get everything done.
Having more flexibility over their working hours makes it easier for employees to fit work around their other responsibilities. It also improves their work-life balance and helps to manage stress. In the future, it is a good idea to continue with these flexible working practices, whether you decide to move back into the office or not. It will make your employees much happier and you will notice a big increase in productivity too.
In some positions, like customer service, this may not be possible because customers need to have set hours during which they can contact the business. However, many other positions can easily be managed with flexible hours.
Businesses that had a very localised supply chain with many suppliers and manufacturers in the same area faced difficulties during the pandemic. When entire regions were forced to close, that caused massive disruption to the supply chain and many businesses ground to a halt. This highlighted a big issue with inflexible, localised supply chains that needs to be addressed in the future. Many companies were forced to find new suppliers in different areas or even different countries, so they could continue to manufacture products and operate their business in some capacity.
In the future, it is important to consider your ability to adapt your supply chain. There is no telling when large scale disruptions could happen again and if you are not prepared, it will damage your business. Creating a supply chain that is not dependent on a single region is the best way to protect yourself.
Ecommerce businesses found themselves in a much better position than most during the pandemic. With people spending more time at home, unable to go to retail stores or hospitality businesses, online spending increased a lot.
Many companies that did not normally sell products online or operate any online services were forced to take their operation online to survive. Although this was a necessity, it forced businesses to innovate and create new revenue streams. Now that you are able to get back to normal operations, you should continue offering online services to boost revenue. Not only does this increase your earnings, it means that you are better prepared in case of another crisis.
Making changes to the supply chain is one way to protect yourself in future, but you should also start thinking about other contingency plans for the future. When the pandemic first hit, nobody was expecting it and businesses were completely unprepared. Many companies that thought they were prepared for any eventuality found that they were actually not equipped for a crisis. Hopefully, something like this won’t happen again anytime soon, but other unexpected events could throw a spanner in the works. Start thinking now about your survival plans and ways that you can adapt your business to combat whatever the world throws at you.
There are a lot of things that we are desperate to get back to once the pandemic is over and a return to normality will be welcomed by all. However, some of the changes that your business made during the pandemic are positive ones, and they should be carried over into the future.