The COVID-19 quarantine is being loosened or lifted in a number of locations around the U.S., so some businesses are resuming at least some of their operations. But will they go back to running exactly the way they did pre-pandemic? Probably not. What’s more likely is that businesses will return with a ‘new normal,’ bringing some of that which was implemented during quarantine into their operations moving forward. This situation has provided a unique opportunity to try out some new ways of doing things for several months and, perhaps, even for the long term. Here are a few ideas to try:
Remote work. Did you learn that, contrary to your past concerns, having employees work remotely (despite a few initial kinks) did not, in fact, result in significant loss of productivity or efficiency? There may even be an opportunity for you to save when employees work from home (for example, they may not need an on-site office). But of course that would depend upon what you may need to provide them in order to enable them to work seamlessly from a remote location.
Virtual meetings. You may have recognized the appeal and ease of assembling a group meeting via video conferencing. Instead of the need for everyone to be physically in the same locale, this technology makes possible face-to-face interactions from far and wide. Many of these platforms include file sharing and discussions, enhancing their convenient virtual capabilities.
Reduced staff. Did you need to reduce the size of your staff during quarantine? Perhaps some employees took on new responsibilities to pick up the slack. This may have turned out to be an opportunity to “cut the fat” from your team and come out with a more streamlined workforce going forward.
Non-paper solutions. One of the biggest headaches of remote work is dealing with paperwork. All that which must be signed, copied, stapled and handed to a human becomes a real issue without physical contact. If you take this as an opportunity to implement software to electronically handle everything from purchase orders, to employee time cards, to human resource reports, you probably will never go back to paper, what with all the efficiency and freedom afforded you in your new system. Plus, you’ll save loads of trees!
More new offerings. Did you rise to the challenge of getting your products to customers by implementing delivery during the pandemic? Now that you’re aware of how valuable a service that is, have you considered continuing to provide it as an option, even now that customers will be allowed to once again shop in person at your establishment?
More focus on website sales. When you could no longer sell in person, did you shift your focus to online selling? Your prowess and success at that may indicate that you should continue building up that side of your sales pipeline. Even if they are allowed to go into stores, customers will appreciate the convenience of shopping on a website, perhaps even more so now.
Different marketing. Surely your marketing message needed to be tweaked for relevance during quarantine. As you prepare to “normalize” your message again, be certain to include any new intel you picked up about potential customers or the way your message landed on particular audiences.
General workplace policies. In light of the quarantine experience, there may be some smart long-term policies to consider keeping in place, like:
- Mandatory stay-at-home when sick
- More meticulous cleaning efforts of facility and equipment
- Remaining “contactless” as much as possible
- Staggered hours/days so staff can remain more physically distanced
No doubt your business has gone through some significant changes during the complicated ordeal of COVID-19. Congratulations on rising to the challenge and continuing to get the work done― changes, restrictions, pivots, and all. Looking at the changes as potential benefits rather than inconveniences can set you up to serve customers better moving forward.
What parts of your business’s ‘new normal’ will you gladly retain through post-pandemic times?