Whew! What a year last week was.
The global spread of coronavirus has been a test for businesses worldwide, and the virus rapidly took hold in all 50 U.S. states last week, leaving companies of all sizes scrambling to protect their employees as well as their bottom line from its devastating effects.
A McKinsey report on the business implications of COVID-19 paints a picture of a business community in disarray — and with various levels of preparation for an unprecedented event like this.
To better serve our clients, whose businesses run the gamut from financial-services providers to telecommunications giants and everywhere in between, we’ve been glued to the news to gather useful tips as you move through these uncertain times.
Here are a few of the lessons learned during the craziness of last week.
Lesson #1: Letting employees work from home isn’t the end of the world
Google searches for “work from home tips” increased by 900% between late February and late March, and searches for “companies telling employees to work from home” was up 4,150% in the same period.
Businesses across the United States are getting a crash course in creating work-from-home policies as more and more states and municipalities issued stay-at-home orders for nonessential businesses — including many corporate offices.
Yes, the extenuating circumstances surrounding a global pandemic — an uptick in fear, kids home from school, actual sickness — may mean a lull in productivity in the short term. But at least one long-term study found that employees showed a 13 percent performance improvement while working from home. (NordVPN recently reported its U.S. users have been logging in an additional three hours per day since March 11!)
Seemingly every professional website (and some personal blogs) has rolled out ideas for staying productive while working from home, and there have been just as many published to help businesses cope with their new normal. Here are a couple of our favorite business resources:
- Communication Technology and Inclusion Will Shape the Future of Remote Work (Business News Daily)
- Managing From Home? Here’s How to Keep Your Team Engaged During Coronavirus (U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s CO—)
- How companies can support their employee caregivers during the COVID-19 outbreak (Fast Company)
Lesson #2: Communication is key
We’ve all seen the meme: “I survived another meeting that could have been an email”!
All jabs at corporate America aside, teams throughout the United States are quickly learning the importance of clear, effective communication — and how to get it done digitally. With the workforce evolving into a distributed one almost by default, many meetings are moving away from the brick-and-mortar conference room or even becoming emails (is your company’s email etiquette up to snuff?).
For those face-to-face meetings that really are a necessity, video conferencing is becoming a necessity as well. For proof, look no further than Zoom’s soaring stock prices. The company’s free video conferencing app is at the top of mobile app stores (above TikTok and Google Hangouts!).
More importantly, savvy businesses are realizing that communication is more important than ever — whether it’s a quick daily stand-up or regular email communication with team members. During uncertain times, overcommunication wins the day, even if it feels excessive.
Lesson #3: Agile is universally applicable
If the evolving COVID-19 crisis has taught us anything, it’s that flexibility is a must in all areas of our lives — that the only constant is change.
Agile methodology was born in the 1970s and has evolved as the standard for software development, where cross-functional teams create a product through a series of time-limited sprints that account for hiccups and speed bumps as a project evolves.
Agile teams iterate throughout development to respond quickly to changes in customer needs and adapt to evolving expectations. They finish one sprint, evaluate the results, and make a plan for the next.
No one has a crystal ball — we don’t know what next week or next month will bring in the health or business landscape — but the nimble traits of an agile team could inspire businesses of all kinds to take a less rigid approach to doing business right now.
Lesson #4: The time for digital transformation is now
The need for digital transformation across a huge spectrum of industries and business types, from B2C to B2B, has become crystal clear.
Dine-in-only restaurants have been scrambling to recoup losses with online ordering and takeout infrastructure, and massive in-person events like South by Southwest have postponed indefinitely, leaving nimbler events to fill in the gaps with digital and virtual learning and networking opportunities.
Been putting off your digital transformation efforts? The cracks in your brick-and-mortar foundation may be starting to show as operations begin to digitize out of sheer necessity during this time.
Lesson #5: Business goes on
According to a March 17 article by The Brookings Institution, the pandemic will affect different geographic areas — and different business sectors — very differently: regions that rely heavily on the energy, transportation and tourism sectors, for example.
These are unprecedented times in the global economy, to be sure. But though COVID-19 has changed a lot about Americans’ day-to-day lives, business goes on.
At Collabera, we’ve seen this firsthand: We’re still working around the clock with our clients and partners to solve for their top strategic challenges. We’re tackling digital transformation projects with businesses from the financial sector to the ever-important healthcare sector.
And we’re still hiring for positions at businesses of all sizes.
Is your business in a position to thrive throughout this ongoing global health crisis — and beyond? Adapting to the continually shifting circumstances with a forward-looking plan for managing your workforce is a great place to start.
We’re here to help — let’s talk. Contact Collabera today to get to work on your plan to stay afloat during these unprecedented times and rise above the competition in the months and years to follow.