I’m still not back into working 100% after Covid-19. We went through a downturn in operations, as most companies did. But we had a way around it. Some of us worked from home, some were repurposed. I learnt a lot during the pandemic: I can rewire your data cable if you need it! Well, CAT6 only as CAT5 doesn’t carry enough data. Our company had just purchased a property before the pandemic got serious with us. So while our courier company had slightly less work for me sales-wise, I became a tradie for a few months.
Now that we are turning back to “normal,” I thought I would check how your normal has changed too.
I see lots of people holding Zoom meetings. I’ve taken part in some. It’s been quite convenient, and I can see this sticking around. Our company would pay for flights, sending us interstate to talk to potential customers, some other contractors we work with, or perhaps to lay groundwork for other projects. Perhaps we retain some of the online meetings and spend less on the airfares? Who knows how much of this is good for business? It can still be very beneficial to be able to say to someone, “I have spent money on you – my flight, car and accommodation. You are worth it.” It comes across better than sending a link for a Zoom meeting. It can save you money and time, but always think about how it looks to the prospective client.
A lot of people learnt to work from home. Cloud based software has been so useful to many companies who instructed their staff on how to undertake all work remotely. Again, “Yay! I can pick my kids up from school” or perhaps “whew! No more commute!” but there must be a balance between working remotely, and becoming isolated. There were lots of threads online where people were acknowledging how hard it was for them, after a time, to remain away from others. It can be beneficial to work from home – less formal clothing, better diet, later rising time in the morning but always look at the loss of communication between workmates. It might be as simple as just chatting to a colleague so you can have a connection to someone. Or as important as work related chatter that helps you look after your customer base.
Many businesses learnt to develop plans for Covid-19. There were many stages of lockdown and release, and for each stage, staff had to know what was permitted. These skills can continue to serve you. Has your business implemented policies for other issues that might arise? You now have the knowledge base to draft procedures for shutdowns, bomb scares, virus outbreaks, cyber attacks, or even a generic policy for downturn of operations for unforeseen circumstances. These procedures can be put in place for everyone to access, on your new found cloud based software, so that in the event your databases are infiltrated, you can refer everyone to a pre-existing policy on saving data, clients, and reputation.
Have you had to redirect the focus of your company? Many businesses repurposed their operations – in a much larger way than we did! – and completely redesigned their workload. Have you been able to add or evolve your company so that it has other benefits for your clients? Many companies transformed their complete systems to enable a different product to be manufactured, giving their company a resilience in this time that it didn’t have previously. If you could diversify within your field, hopefully it meant your company could withstand the Covid outbreak, but also means you have other options now that normal might be something different.
The other major impact from Covid-19 and returning to work, is how much more time will each action now take you? If you have to rework your common areas to ensure people are not in contact with each other, or wash hands and change equipment each time you speak to a client, we know work could take longer per customer. But, that is time well spent, giving them the individualised connection they may not have received before. If you have to isolate your attentiveness to each client, they receive your undivided attention, and they can feel that much more important. Smaller clients sometimes get lost in seas of larger corporations. Each person you interact with now receives 100% of your consideration. That has to help maintain client bases in the long term.
While we have been trying to maintain social-distancing, having kids bored out of their minds staying at home, missing sports, we have been learning new ways to mould our businesses. We can’t be complacent anymore. We had to adapt. And not all of these things should revert. Not everything should return to the way it was. Your company may have learnt extremely valuable coping skills while you did too.