The road to recovery from COVID-19 gets longer every day, but businesses should start planning now if they want to see results soon. Research from McKinsey & Company shows that over one third of companies are at risk of permanent closure due to COVID-19, and those that do make it will have to play their cards just right if they want to stick around for the long term.
With the world as unpredictable as it is today, it can be difficult to know what recovery-focused investment should look like. While the answer will look different for every business, there are a few key areas that all businesses should consider. Here are some of the most important:
1. Leaving the office for good
Lockdowns and stay-at-home orders may have forced your business to shut down its office for a while, but more than a few companies are making the shift to remote work a permanent one. Everything from fancy San Francisco ad agencies like Traction to century-old industry stalwarts like Nationwide Insurance are sending leagues of workers home for good — and it’s time that your business considers doing the same if you can.
Estimates from Global Workplace Analytics show that making even a part-time position permanently remote can save a business up to $11,000 annually, a sum far too large for small businesses to ignore. The transition to remote work isn’t just a corner-cutting opportunity either: workers genuinely value the flexibility that working from home has to offer them once they’re given the resources they need to succeed. As a second wave of COVID-19 looms, companies still trying to reopen their offices are facing a big second round of losses — ditch the office and save as a result.
2. Scheduling overhauls
Determine which of your workforce functions you can easily move online to save you time with manual work. For example, scheduling hourly employees is a time-consuming task, especially during the pandemic when work hours will often compete with at-home responsibilities.
One way to make this process more efficient is to give your employees the ability to schedule their own shifts online. In a recent survey by MyWorkChoice, three quarters of the workers surveyed said they want to have a degree of flexibility in their occupation. By adopting a system like this, you will not only help accommodate your employees’ needs by offering them flexibility, but you will also ensure a lower rate of absenteeism, saving you time and many headaches.
3. Initiative-based marketing
Let’s face it: consumers are tired of traditional advertising. They’re facing a global pandemic coupled with a major economic recession — they’re not going to find your new banner ad particularly compelling. If you’re starting to re-invest in marketing in order to make up for a sales slump, be sure that your money is going towards a campaign with the right tone.
According to research from Kantar Monitor, the vast majority of consumers want brands not only to take a stance on social issues but actively participate in the conversations around them. If you’re helping to catch the attention of new customers while securing the loyalty of old ones, make your next marketing campaign one that reflects what people are talking about. Promote voices that need to be heard and jump in when appropriate — you’ll be amazed at how much more sincere the engagement is with an initiative-based approach than with traditional marketing.
4. A new crisis response plan
Did COVID-19 catch your business without a proper crisis management plan in place? Unfortunately, you weren’t the only one: social media firm Crisp and PR News recently reported that over one quarter of all businesses don’t have an up-to-date crisis management plan in place. Just because you’ve already come up with a way to deal with COVID-19 doesn’t mean that you’re prepared for whatever the next crisis might be — so it’s time that you put a fully-fledged plan in place for good.
Ensure that all of your bases are covered: PR disaster, ecological breakdown, cold feet from an investor, and anything else that might impede your progress as a company. Every dollar you dedicate towards crisis response today will save you exponentially when one does strike, so do everything you can now to prepare for later.
The dust from the COVID-19 disaster will hopefully start settling sooner rather than later, and when it does, you need to have a plan in place for what your recovery will look like. As your business continues to grow, so do the things that could impede its progress — make the right investments now and thank yourself later.