Our personal and business lives have changed beyond all recognition in the last month. From rumours about an illness in China to a global lockdown. These are unprecedented times, and the impact on our businesses are immeasurable at the moment. From moving to a working from home set up, to now furloughing many employees, we are all just hoping the long-term damage isn’t too deep. It’s been so eerie to see the centre of Market Harborough close its doors as shops & businesses shut up shop for the short-term future.
Back to business
Whilst we look to the likes of China and Italy for our mid-term future, we have to start planning our exit strategies from lockdown. It’s very likely that our return to ‘normal’ will be staggered, and we will have to phase our return to work accordingly.
So how do we do that? This will obviously differ according to your sector and industry. Industry rumours are that smaller businesses are likely to be allowed to return initially, then medium-sized businesses and retail, moving to the leisure and hospitality industry along with larger-scale businesses finally.
Reintegration both for you and your workforce (no matter its size) will need careful planning and preparation. Here are some pointers to consider when drafting plans.
Operationally it’s good to consider those essential processes and how you get these restarted. Which will enable you to re-coop any losses financially quickly and easily? Does this need a full workforce, or a staggered scale-up? What about potential supply chain issues for these? Can you obtain all the materials and goods needed, or is this going to have to be phased too?
More than ever, having a clear customer focus in mind is essential. Whether you’re B2B or B2C, what are the pressing needs of your customers and clients in the short, medium, and long-term? How are you best to support them for each phase most effectively.
This needs huge consideration. We cannot know the impact that being in isolation for a such a prolonged period will have. The return to the outside work, as well as the world of work, for both your team & yourself will need carefully planning. If you’re staggering a return, how is this best supported? If you plan to reopen with a business-as-usual approach, then this may need even deeper support.
Are there any wellbeing workshops, classes, memberships, or sessions you can support the team with to assist them? Some will be ready to go full-steam-ahead, others may need a more phased return to ease them in. However, both will need your full support to ensure the long-term health of the team.
Another important area to consider is childcare for colleagues with dependants. Nurseries and childminders should be back up and running as soon as they’re able to, however there are many discussions concerning schools not returning until September. How we manage this process also needs careful consideration.
It will take a mindful approach to support parents and their childcare situation. The children themselves will need support in adapting back into a daily and weekly routine, so it has the potential to be a difficult period for parents to manage.
As always, once you have your short, medium, and long-term goals in place, think about how you communicate these to everyone needed. Whether that’s to customers, clients, other businesses, your team and support systems; the communication levels need to be clear, structured, and well organised, to ensure the whole process is well managed.
Communicating to customers directly will be particularly key – with all of the above considerations it’s vital to keep customers in the loop. Your messages via email, website, social media, and other channels will need to be current and effective. The marketplace is going to be FLOODED with noise with all businesses trying to be heard. How are you going to stand out from this? A clear marketing plan to communicate your message and voice will be critical.
Has this whole period enabled you to learn and use new technologies? Suddenly a pro at Zoom webinars? Then use it! Embrace all the new processes and experiences you’ve gained during this time; plan how you are going to use that going forward to enhance your business further. Are there more opportunities for further tech development? Can team members have training in new areas? Plan, plan, plan for this, and ensure it happens. Keep your business fresh and moving with the times, this is more important than ever.
All major incidents such as this bring about a fresh wave of legal updates. Your team handbooks and supporting documents will need updating with new protocol for business interruption processes, in case of similar future events. Likewise, your insurance policies and any finance agreements, legal paperwork, or contracts with suppliers & other entities, are likely to be updated. They will need a fresh pair of eyes to ensure they fully protect you and your business best.
As always, we are here to support our members in the difficult transitional period ahead. We have a number of legal firms in our membership if you need that support, as well as a whole host of other professions to help with tech support, business advice, business planning, marketing, health and wellbeing, creative professions, as well as childcare practitioners.
Please take a look at our Member Directory for businesses that may be able to support you, or contact us via our available methods and we’d be more than happy to point you in the right direction. And don’t forget to follow us on Facebook or Instagram for all the latest news, advice and support.