Moving forward from COVID-19: Business recovery, opportunities and readiness
2020 has been a year of significant change, to the point of upheaval – far more than any organisation would willingly impose on its people and its operations.
When Premier Peter Gutwein recently announced that Tasmania’s borders will remain closed until 1 December 2020, there was a mixed response. Some people welcomed the news that our COVIDSafe ‘bubble’, which has allowed us to resume a degree of normality and business operations, will remain in place for a little longer. For others the continued border closures mean further delays, particularly those businesses that are dependent on tourism and interstate travel.
Whatever situation we find ourselves in, the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic raise three key issues for businesses to consider:
The process of recovery requires a combination of operational planning and people management.
Change is inherently stressful, and over recent months everyone from business owners to employees has experienced change in their work and personal lives to varying degrees. In order to successfully move our businesses, and our people forward, we need to recognise this.
Undertaking a proper debriefing process will ensure we address the personal impact of stressors, as well as provide opportunities for people to reflect and learn. Simultaneously an effective debriefing session also provides a mechanism to identify strategic and operational opportunities for a business.
From an operational perspective, lessons learned during lockdown can assist in identifying a need or presenting an opportunity for changes. These learnings will come from people right across an organisation, providing business owners or leaders with valuable insights and perspectives. Examples of learnings may include:
- changes to business processes that will improve cross-team interactions and/or achieve greater efficiency;
- enhancing IT skills, better use of IT resources, and/or a need to upgrade IT systems;
- expanding business operations beyond the geographical location of offices and shop fronts;
- exploring new or modified supply chains; and
- developing new ways to interact with customers when face-to-face communication is limited or not possible.
We have recently worked with some clients to help them identify strategic opportunities arising from the disruption of COVID-19, and to plan how they can harness these opportunities in their recovery. Some examples have been:
- manufacturing businesses ‘pivoting’ into manufacturing different products;
- service-oriented businesses shifting emphasis between the range of services they offer; and
- identifying potential funding opportunities, including government grants, that may be available to support strategic changes to the business.
Finally, as we all take a deep breath and dust ourselves off from the first half of 2020, we also need to use the lessons learned from lockdown to ensure that our organisations are ready for any further public health restrictions that may be imposed in the coming months and years.
Now is the time to update business continuity plans to reflect lessons learned and to consider whether any measures can be put in place now to reduce the impact of any further restrictions – whether by changes to infrastructure, business processes, markets or supply chains.
It is also timely to consider other potential business disruption risks to ensure that your organisation is as prepared as it can be for the future.
If you would like to discuss how we can help your organisation recover, identify and harness opportunities, and maintain readiness for the future, please contact Alicia Leis [email protected] or Maryellen Salter [email protected] .