Back to work, but not back to business yet!

12th June 2020

As you return from lockdown and resolve the immediate challenge of how to make sure your workplaces are safe and compliant, you may be tempted to jump straight into the course you set for your businesses before the pandemic. But before that, you need to identify the position you’re in now.

The general aims you have set out for your business to achieve are sometimes the hardest to change as you look at how your sector has been affected and how your compare. In my experience, no sector has been untouched by COVID-19 and therefore you need to be realistic.

So, step one, invest in workplace safety and wellbeing as an immediate priority. Beyond that, step two is to carefully consider your current business position as it will probably have changed as a result of the crisis. Step three is the time to decide what is achievable from your original aims and over what period.

Driving growth in a business may no longer be your principal priority. I can think of at least three more priorities that every business should address in their new post COVID-19 business plan. These are preparing for the next downturn (either Brexit or a secondary lockdown), digitisation of processes and reducing carbon use and cost.

A difficult Brexit and a recurrence of Coronavirus, resulting in a winter lockdown, are both possibilities. Businesses may only have a short window to ensure the lessons from the last lockdown are learned and implemented.

A crossover opportunity of resilience and productivity improvement is the use of technology. There is evidence to show that firms that invested in digital adapted to the crisis better than their peers. For example, we have worked with lots of businesses that invested in e-commerce for their customers with automated fulfilment processes that have meant they have won business during the last three months. These organisations proved they could be available and deliver, so customers will stay with them in the future, significantly growing their market share in the process.

Reducing carbon use and cost may also not be as hard as you think. If working from home has worked for you, you may decide it becomes a standard way of working rather than the exception. You could share property facilities or invest in green and sustainable travel plans that mean fewer staff use cars, instead embracing cycle to work or lift share schemes.

Your new plan needs to recognise where you are starting from and build flexibility in for the future. A well-articulated business plan will provide the platform to give your business the best chance of achieving your aims now and well into the future.

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