How to manage your business through COVID-19

By Robert Half on 25 May 2020

Within a short space of time, the COVID-19 pandemic has completely upended what it means to go to work or run a business. It’s an unprecedented situation that hasn’t spared a single employee, manager or business owner – anywhere in the world – in some shape or form.

To manage your business through these uncertain and challenging times, it’s important for everyone to try to pivot their routines and business objectives as best they can. By acting fast to redefine the status quo, you’ll stand a greater chance of getting through the other side with more resilience than ever before.

To help you understand how to manage your business most efficiently in the current climate, here are some steps you can take.

Check your business’ IT infrastructure and tools

With social distancing rules making it impossible for most employees to work in the same office space each day, business continuity is likely to depend on your remote working capabilities.

For this reason, it’s important to carry out a full check of your IT and computer systems to make sure your staff have access to all the tools and functions they need to perform their duties from home – safely and securely.

Of course, you’ll need to ensure your staff are equipped with the necessary mobile devices such as a tablet and laptop, but if you’re using an in-house server to store and access business information and software, there are other considerations beyond your tools.

Some in-house servers are at risk of becoming overloaded if too many staff access at once, so you’ll need to consult with your IT team to check that everyone who needs access can do so safely, reliably and securely. For this reason, it might be worth considering whether a move to external cloud-based services – which have their own back-up and security protocols – could be a more practical solution for some (if not all) members of the workforce to collaborate and share information.

It’s also essential to ensure that anyone in a customer or client-facing role can substitute office-based phone calls or meetings with phone or videoconferencing from home.

Over-communicate with your teams

Despite having the technology which allows us to do it well, one of the biggest challenges to working from home – especially among people who are used to working in a team environment – is the feeling of isolation and risks of miscommunication. A survey by HR think tank, Reventure, recently revealed that 38 per cent of people who feel lonely at work say they make more mistakes while 40 per cent feel less productive.

The message here is that you should make every effort to continue to maintain the dialogue between you and your staff, while encouraging other managers in the business to do the same. To put it another way, it’s better to be at risk of overcommunicating than not communicating enough.

While you should actively promote an “open-door” stance on phone calls and emails between staff, it might also be beneficial to set up a more structured approach to communication to make sure everyone stays aligned. Some ideas might include regular team and one-to-one meetings via video call, or daily email wrap-ups and phone calls to address objectives and priorities.

Check you have the necessary resources

Many businesses have scaled back their workforces – even if just temporarily – as we navigate our way through COVID-19. But it’s still important to maintain critical staff to ensure business continuity.

For example, key roles within the fields of IT, accounts payable, credit management, customer service, and compliance functions continue to be essential to minimise your business’ exposure to increased risk or vulnerability throughout this period. Similarly, it could also be beneficial to maintain key marketing functions to keep up the conversation and stay front of mind with your target market. Failing to do this might bring the risk that your competitors will leap ahead in time for when the pace picks up again.

Taking a more flexible approach to your staffing needs could be a solution to ensuring you always have the necessary resources at any given point in time. In other words, a mix of temporary and permanent employees could help you maintain business continuity as you ride the peaks and toughs while reducing your long-term financial commitments.

The current business environment is emphasising what it means to be truly agile. It’s not just about focusing on strategic agility but also operational agility. By following a few guidelines around how to manage your business through COVID-19, you’ll stand a better chance at getting through this period and ready to bounce back stronger and more resilient than ever.

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