We’ve all seen the disastrous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on American businesses across the country. In preparation for the relaxing of social distancing measures, now is the perfect time to prepare your business for the post-corona world.
In part one of this two-part series, we discussed preparing your business for the post-corona economy. If you haven’t already read part one, you should first check it out here.
In this article, we’ll be sharing the four crucial steps you must take to prepare your business for the new normal. These are:
- Reprioritizing tasks
- Restructuring teams
- Ensuring the right fit for jobs
- Maintaining efficient communication
1. Prioritizing Tasks
Given a company takes all the necessary steps to keep its nose above the water, it’s important not to jump the gun once the crisis is over. The virus itself may come under control soon enough. Still, the economy as a whole may take months (perhaps years) to become fully stabilized. Reprioritizing tasks is essential to make sure there is a smooth transition as companies look to overturn the harmful effects of COVID-19.
Not Maximizing Shareholder Value
In a Business Roundtable last year, CEOs of America’s 192 largest firms made a momentous announcement: maximizing shareholder value is no longer a firm’s primary purpose of existing.
This assertion will be more relevant than ever once COVID-19 subsides. There’s no denying that a firm should be able to turn a profit under all circumstances, but a small gambit for greater good might do wonders.
Retaining the Serendipitous Efficiencies
There’s a viral meme going around the internet that asks, “What led to the digital transformation of your company?” and the answer is not CEO or CTO, but COVID-19. Caustic, but true.
The essential thing is to ensure business, in an attempt to ‘normalize’ things, do not invite the earlier inefficiencies into the system. If your employees are happy working from home, let them work from home; if your customers are satisfied with the online service, let them keep it.
Knowing the Way Forward
Most likely, the alternative arrangements to deal with the pandemic will have made companies realize that the way to the future is technology. Companies might need to restructure their business models in a way that they leverage modern technology to a more significant extent.
2. Restructuring Teams
COVID-19 is a watershed moment in the history of corporate America. Years from now, business schools will talk about the corporate world in terms of pre-corona and post-corona. As such, it’s not just the nature of the business that would change; companies will also have to introduce new job roles while removing some of the old ones.
Restructuring of any teams can involve the following steps:
- Addition of new job roles
- Combining two or more functions that currently exist
- Doing away with tasks that are no longer needed
- A combination of all the steps mentioned above
In the context of coronavirus exclusively, the following steps might be required to restructure company hierarchy:
Building an In-house IT Team
For years now, American firms have been relying on external vendors to meet their IT related needs. Outsourcing helps reduce costs but also has its downsides: longer turnaround times, language barriers, poor quality of work.
Post COVID-19 might call for firms to build in-house IT teams to meet with the growing dependence on software solutions.
Removing Repetitive Tasks
One of COVID-19’s upsides is that it’s allowed technology to fully flex its muscles and demonstrate to the business leaders what it is capable of. Sophisticated modern technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, natural language processing, and computer image processing can do mundane, time-consuming, repetitive tasks in a matter of minutes, if not seconds.
Companies will need to train employees to use such modern technologies to improve efficiency in workflows.
Hierarchical or structural changes in an organization are an entire science in their own right. For brevity, we’ll only recommend these changes are brought about in a way that is palatable to the employees across the company’s hierarchy.
3. Ensuring The Right Fit for Jobs
Throughout this article, we’ve recommended that the collateral damage – in terms of lay-offs – be kept at a minimum. However, balance is essential. Post COVID-19, there will be job roles that would inevitably become redundant.
As such, hierarchical restructuring must be done in a way that ensures people in a job are fully enabled to perform their day to day tasks. Companies can take several steps to make sure once the pandemic is over, all employees fit perfectly into their roles in the company. Some of those steps are as follows:
During this crisis, while business activity is low, companies can use the time to train employees on modern technologies. This training would allow employees to fit into their revised roles in the post-corona world – the last thing we’d want is too many square pegs trying to fit into round holes.
One example of this could be a call center worker learning to build chatbots.
Some technology skills have a more significant learning curve. Instead of trying to train in-house employees to learn sophisticated technologies such as AI and ML, it might benefit companies to go into the market and hire the best available talent. Timing is of paramount importance. It is essential to make this move now; once the economy is back to full-bloom, these resources may become unaffordable.
4. Maintaining Efficient Communication
As the corporate world’s Facebook equivalent, LinkedIn is awash with employees of different companies posting pictures of online conference calls. The general agreement is that over the past month, workers have proven to be remarkably capable of performing their day to day assignments remotely while maintaining unimpeded intra-company communication.
A Unique Challenge
There is a fear among managers that employees might become too comfortable with the work from home model. It’s a known fact that there is a general disapproval of this model in the corporate world as this requires managers to be extra vigilant to make sure employees stay productive.
Once offices reopen, going back to ‘normal’ might prove difficult; work from home might have become the new normal for employees. This presents a unique challenge to managers who might have to make sure in-person meetings remain useful, something they took for granted just a few months ago – in-person sessions are supposed to be more productive than online conferences.
Possible Remedial Steps
If your employees are thinking they have been granted the luxury of working from home indefinitely, then the sooner you give them a reality check, the better. Below are the steps business managers can take to make sure communication within the company remains up-to-mark post the COVID-19 crisis.
Not Trying to be Too Intrusive
Nobody likes having their integrity questioned – not least, their integrity in a professional capacity. Managers need to make sure they do not give the slightest indication that they’re ‘keeping an eye on the employees’. If managers start eavesdropping on online conferences, employees would be forced to believe they’re not being trusted to work honestly from remote locations.
These harsh feelings might lead to a drop in cross-company communication once offices reopen. The remedy is for managers to resist micro-management during the crisis, so when regular service resumes, employees don’t notice much of a difference in onsite and remote work.
Offering Leeway Where Possible
Another step to make certain onsite communication remains efficient is not to give the impression that work from home is a luxury in any way. A subtle form of meeting this end is to allow employees to continue working from home occasionally if they make such a request.
In conclusion, the economic impact of COVID-19 might outlive its implications for human health by months, if not years. The important thing is that companies try to stay liquid in the time of crisis and make the necessary arrangements to ease back into normalization as the virus slowly subsides.