As businesses continue to navigate the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there are several key issues top leaders must address, as well as steps they can take to reshape their business and prepare for recovery. Today, being proactive and predictive builds enterprise resilience.
Consider the following priorities:
Workforce Safety and Continuous Engagement
Ensuring the well being and safety of your employees is essential. Addressing their concerns in an open and clear manner improves employee engagement, as well as reassures the business continuity.
Start by promoting a safe work environment. Keep the office clean for employees who come in with regular preventative sanitation. Also, align with the government’s current health policies to ensure the office is always safe for work.
Another adjustment to make is to expand or initiate flexible work arrangements and other policies to promote remote working. Depending on the sector, businesses can reorganize teams and reallocate systems, as well as establish employee wellbeing programs that promote a productive working environment at home. Provide them with the equipment they need: laptops, laptop cooling pads, mouse, keyboards, etc.
Re-establishing a business-as-usual environment in the new normal requires finding a balance. Where flexible work arrangements or telecommuting are impossible and businesses must have employees on-site, it’s important to always provide the team with disinfection measures.
Change Business Continuity Strategies
Due to significant business disruptions during the duration of COVID-19, companies are sure to struggle with underperformance. More businesses are experiencing operational disruption, as well as shifts in consumer demands, resulting in impacts on the following sectors: retail, manufacturing, consumer care, etc.
To address these challenges, businesses should:
- Assess operational and financial risks and respond to them ASAP. Businesses must monitor direct cost escalations and their impact on the company, renegotiating and intervening (if and where necessary). If you fail to renegotiate new terms and conditions, your business will be vulnerable to financial stress.
- Evaluate short-term liquidity. Businesses must still focus on monitoring their cash flow so they can predict potential pressures and intervene when the time comes. Also, maintain discipline in working capital, particularly when managing inventory build-up and collecting receivables. You can also lighten the working capital cycle by being creative and proactive. Finally, maintain regular contact with suppliers to identify potential risks.
- Consider alternative supply options. Supply chains have been unstable due to the high demand and limitations in transportation. Companies that have stable arrangements with trusted manufacturing facilities must consider alternative suppliers in the area. Always have contractual arrangements with different logistics and service providers.
- Determine how the crisis affects business and budget plans. Stress test existing plans for different scenarios to understand their impact on your performance and finances. In case your business will be severely impacted, consider minimum operating requirements, such as key dependencies of vendors, workforce, technology, and location.
Communicate with Relevant Stakeholders
Timely and transparent communications are necessary when creating business continuity plans. This secures continuous support from employees, customers, creditors, suppliers, government regulators, and suppliers.
- Communication plans should find a balance between maintaining a business-as-usual mindset and promoting safety in the workplace.
- Keep customers in the loop in case of changes in service or product deliveries. If obligations cannot be met due to production or supplier disruption, inform customers as soon as possible or invoke ‘act of God’ clauses. These actions mitigate liabilities or damages connected to disrupted customer obligations.
- Investors and creditors. Review your terms and conditions on loans to avoid technical debt breaches and to identify debts. These reviews give your company the chance to establish and manage dialogues with creditors in case of amendments to your current refinancing arrangements or terms.
- Maintain continuous contact with your suppliers regarding their ability to provide services or deliver goods during the pandemic. Also, learn about their recovery plans or consider alternative supply chain options.
- Authoritative regulators. When communicating with stakeholders, consult with your legal time for advice on potential liabilities.
Establish Business Resilience to Prepare for the New Normal
Once you’ve established business continuity plans and communicated with stakeholders, execute these strategies based on revised plans while monitoring the situation. Your senior management team should also report any deviation from the plan so the business can take immediate action to prevent any negative impact.
Once the outbreak is controlled, review and renew your plans. Assess how they work; in case of deficiencies, identify the cause — whether it’s lack of infrastructure, timeliness of action, external environment issues, or labor shortages. Based on the lessons learned, consider creating new internal guidelines to better respond to future crises.
Plan Recovery Today, Not Tomorrow
The current pandemic is impossible to predict with forecasting tools and conventional wisdom. There are, however, many lessons you can carry forward with once the COVID-19 crisis has passed. In the meantime, make decisions with recovery in mind.