Almost every business has been negatively hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Government guidelines that have been put into place to protect public health and slow the spread of coronavirus and Covid-19 have meant that many businesses have had to either close or radically alter the ways in which they work in order to comply with new regulations and keep both staff and customers safe. Many businesses have gone under. Many are just about staying afloat with government help. Some are still in operations, but have had to rely heavily on staff switching to remote work and have experienced reducing incomes and profits due to reduced customer demand (as millions across the world are finding themselves out of work and with no or little disposable income). This is a worrying time for any company and you’re going to want to do your utmost to manage your own business effectively throughout these difficult times. Here are a few things you can do to achieve this!
Effective business management may need you to consider permanent remote work
Many businesses have surprisingly found that remote work is actually something that their benefit could carry out permanently. This could save a huge amount of money on commercial premises and business owners could invest these savings into other, more progressive aspects of their business and its operations. If you’ve found that remote work has boosted employee satisfaction and still produced good results, don’t feel compelled to head back to the status quo, simply because other businesses may be pushing their staff back into their usual places of work. Of course, if you’re going to stick with remote work, you need to invest in the right areas to make it work for your staff. You may want to invest in:
- Communication Software – programmes like Microsoft Teams allow for instant chat communication, as well as group video calls and conference calls
- Cloud Storage – so all files can be safely and easily accessed and stored
- A VPN – using a virtual private network will allow your staff to connect to a network you provide, rather than their own, helping to keep your business more secure
- Cyber Security Training – cyber criminals target individuals working for remote businesses, as they are most likely to leak information or allow security breaches. A cyber security training should include topics like how to handle email response and phishing websites as most employees click on fake emails or visit insecure websites that can harm the company's data. Employees should check whether a website has an SSL certificate installed or not. A secured padlock and HTTPS guarantee that the website is safe for browsing.
Consider Workplace Alterations
If you do want your staff to return to work, you need to take into account that workplace alterations may need to be carried out to ensure that they’re heading back to a safe environment that minimises chances of contamination or spread of the virus and disease. You will need to look into government guidelines to ensure that your business can operate on an in-office basis while still adhering to social distancing and hygiene guidelines. Some steps that you might want to take could include:
- Rearranging desks to be at least two metres apart
- Using Social Distancing Stickers on floors to ensure people stand two metres apart
- Providing hand sanitiser
- Providing latex gloves
- Providing disposable face masks
- Installing perspex panes between spaces employees work from
Monitor Advice and Guidelines
Government advice and guidelines are constantly evolving as the situation progresses. It’s best to keep a constant eye on how things are going and to check in for updates regularly. This will help to ensure that you are always doing the best for your staff and that there can’t be any repercussions from not following guidelines as advised.
Reanalyse the Market
Chances are you’ll be returning to a completely different market to the one you were operating in before. A lot of the market research that you used to inform business decisions will now be irrelevant and you are likely to have to conduct both market due diligence and market research checks to become familiar with the new market you’ll be operating within and to understand customers’ behaviour as times have changed. Competitors may have gone under. New competitors may emerge as the pandemic begins to pass and life starts to return to normal. Consumer spending may be impacted as the economy has taken a major hit and unemployment has skyrocketed. So, you’ll really need to get some new insight into what you’re working with in order to come up with new products, new marketing plans and new approaches to your business in general.
Go Heavy on Marketing
Of course, when people are less willing to spend, you’re going to have to go in extra hard for your sales. Marketing is going to become one of your most important tools during these hard times, and while it may feel tempting to cut spending in all areas, it’s actually generally a good idea to invest more in marketing right now. You need to get your brand and products noticed and to generate sufficient desire and appeal around them that people will be willing to part with what disposable income they do have in exchange for them. Some areas of marketing to focus on will heavily lie in the realm of digital marketing, as people are still generally choosing to limit their time out of the house and in public spaces. Consider PPC or “pay per click” advertising, SEO to be seen in search engine results, social media marketing, collaboration with social media influencers and more.
Perhaps one of the best pieces of advice for business owners right now is to be patient. Sure, this may be easier said than done with many of us having failed to generate sufficient profits during the past three or four months. But things will eventually return to normal and it’s simply a matter of waiting things out and seeing things return to how we know them on a step by step basis. Remember the greater good of not rushing into things – protecting the lives and health of others. This is a situation where patience really could prove to be a virtue!
These really are difficult times that we’re facing. But there will be a way through them. Hopefully, some of the above advice will help you to effectively manage your business through the next stages of this pandemic!