For most, recent weeks have been a fog where awkward distancing, conference calls, and decisions-on-the-fly have run together with seemingly no end in sight. As business leaders, we’ve reacted quickly to challenges and made decisions in a period of hours or days that, in pre-pandemic days, we would have analyzed and deliberated for weeks or months before making a move. Have we been perfect during the pandemic? No, but we’ve made some good moves and learned lessons from actions we’d do-over with the benefit of hindsight.
What is clear is that we cannot stay in reactive mode. While a steady stream of human, financial, and safety concerns will keep us occupied for the foreseeable future, we’ve reached the point where we, as business leaders, must begin to plan for the next stage, using what we’ve learned during the pandemic to improve and strengthen our businesses.
Let’s consider a few business positives that could benefit business as we prepare for our inevitable recovery:
“Business as usual” changed dramatically once we received our March stay at home directives. With much of the professional workforce telecommuting, our IT and management skills were stressed to capacity (and beyond!) overnight. Once that initial shock wore off, many businesses found that at least a partial remote workforce has actually benefitted their business and could be both a recruitment perk and cost-savings tool moving forward.
Other process changes have surely emerged, which prompts the questions we should all be asking ourselves: what changes to business processes have we made out of necessity that might make sense to incorporate into ongoing operations? Conversely, what have we stopped doing that we don’t need to resume?
Competition: It’s a Different Marketplace
Unfortunately there will be business collateral damage from the COVID-19 pandemic resulting in a competitive landscapes that may look very different in the near future. Keeping tabs on our competitors has always been a business priority, and now it has become an investigation of potential growth opportunities. How will our competitors fare? Is there potential for a partnership or buyout in the near future? Now is the time to begin gathering that intelligence.
To date, more than 30 million of our fellow Americans have found themselves unemployed, mostly due to circumstances beyond their control. It’s a buyers’ market for employees and we can find ourselves staffing up from a large talent pool. Now is a good time to evaluate staffing models and how targeted investments could position our businesses for future growth.
The pandemic will have a longer reaching impact on our community’s office and rental spaces as our business landscape changes. Landlords and brokers will be eager to fill newly-available space, be it a recently constructed building or a newly vacated office. Now may be an ideal time time to renegotiate existing leases, explore better deals, or trade-up to a higher-quality property.
Invest in Business
While we can only speculate on how deep our emerging recession will be, we can be fairly certain of two things: interest rates will remain low and businesses will be eager to move product. In other words, the pandemic’s aftermath may present an opportunity for you to invest in the equipment or technology that will move your operation forward. Now is an ideal time to identify potential service, technology, or equipment needs and weaknesses, and correspondingly list what businesses could fulfill such requirements. Having that list on-hand will allow your business to prioritize purchases and act on future opportunities.
Finally, reflect back on the past weeks. You will likely be able to identify a handful of people in your business who stepped up in an extraordinary way. Positive attitudes, extra effort and supportive words have gone a long way in recent times and can be the difference between surviving and thriving. Thank these individuals now, reward them when you can, and know that you can count on them the next time you’re faced with challenges that seem insurmountable.
It may have seemed like it at the pandemic’s peak, but the business world has not ended. With a little effort now, your business will be poised for future growth in our post-pandemic world.
Richard A. Duke is the executive director at Hirschler. He may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.