At times of crisis, maximum flexibility is required in order to keep your business running. Undoubtedly, the current coronavirus pandemic is a crisis and one that few predicted coming and fewer had already worked in a strategy to accommodate for the public health demands and sacrifices currently being imposed across the world. So, in a year bookmarked by a global pandemic demanding intercontinental social distancing, how well-equipped is your business to deal with people in self-isolation?
This doesn’t just mean implementing remote working policies, or cancelling group meetings in favour of conference calls and video chats. If the current rate of infection continues (and some top virologists are expecting up to 7 months of worsening disruption) you’ll need to be looking at seismic changes to the way that your business operates. Remember, it’s not only your workers that are self-isolating – your customers are in self-isolation too.
Digitisation across your business is looking to be absolutely crucial in ensuring that you can continue to trade in this time. With thousands of people taking up self-isolation plans, using cloud-based solutions, such as Google Drive over Microsoft Office, is one way to ensure that your business keeps moving forward – or at least stays afloat – in these times.
We don’t want to scaremonger, but COVID-19 might well be here for some time, until a vaccine is developed and distributed, and we believe that the businesses who best adapt, and find ways to implement wider digitisation across their company are likely to thrive, both during the periods of social distancing and then when people do come back together.
This transition is not just about internal documents though. You need processes that can run with minimal involvement from teams working together, and products which do not discriminate against users who have chosen to self isolate.
Companies who choose to embrace digital even further than before can reap real benefits.
With digital marketing, there’s no billboard that a user has to drive by; there’s no salesperson for them to interact with, shaking their hand and sharing their space. Search ads and social media marketing appear on a user’s own phone, they can interact with your brand at their own pace and in whatever space they want. As people stay away from the workplaces and schools, we can only speculate over the increased hours of YouTube video will be watched, the social media sites seeing a spike in daily active users, the days of Spotify and Apple Music listened to, the millions of extra Google searches. These are all heightened opportunities to get your brand in front of more people in self isolation, awakening them to your ideas and values.
We don’t know about the mindset of self isolation, but think about times that you’ve spent a day in your house alone, for whatever reason. We’ve all found ourselves making impulse purchases and toying with brands that we simply would not have otherwise encountered. Can your brand be seen by a whole new market, a demographic of people looking to fill their time with something new?
It’s not only the flexibility of your business that needs looking at in a crisis. Seismic change requires the ability to evaluate every part of your business, and to survive and thrive in a world governed by self isolation, ways in which your product and its delivery can be modified have to be considered.
If you’re a restaurant, you might be looking at a huge lack of covers, giving you a real cashflow issue. Staff still need to be paid, even if that is sick pay, produce needs storing and premises need paying for – so you’ve still got money going out. At first glance, it may seem impossible to digitise food. But, with some clever thinking, you might be able to recover some of your cash flow by changing the way you deliver your service.
Can you set up a temporary delivery service for your meals? While there is still some human interaction here, it is far less appealing to sit in a restaurant full of other people. Crowded shops may also not be where people in self isolation want to be, and they still need to eat. Could you offer to double bag your meals, meaning that contamination during delivery is far reduced? Done the right way, delivery services are going to be required for far more users than ever before.
Another option might be to offer gift cards which can be redeemed when guests feel safe and happy enough to return to their normal lives; and, indeed, when that comes, you can be sure that they will be itching to get back out, having been stuck inside for so long in self isolation. These gift cards may be some of the best presents that friends can give to each other in these crisis times and by offering gift cards, you can keep cash flowing through your business.
With some expertise and some innovation, embracing digitisation is the only way that you can keep cash flowing through your business. Making your business accessible to it’s workers, and your services accessible to their users, you need to find a way to combat the self isolation sacrifice that responsible citizens are being asked to make.
Indeed, you might find that some of these changes propel your business forward in a world that may be fundamentally changed due to the current crisis. There are many speculating that among the casualties of COVID-19 may be the office, as thousands of businesses implement remote working patterns which have until now been shown to enhance employee happiness. Of course, these are different circumstances, and after six, eight, more weeks at home, we may all be clamouring for our desks again.
What is certain, though, is that more flexibility in business will be required than ever before to navigate through self isolation and the pandemic and also in returning to normality once the threat has subsided.