As the COVID-19 pandemic took the world by storm a couple of months ago, plenty of businesses around the globe were forced to shut their doors for an extended time. Since the global economy cannot be stuck at a standstill for much longer in order to avoid a devastating recession, the first signs of the pandemic’s weakening were used to start resuming business operations worldwide.
Reopening your business after COVID-19 is a good idea, but it’s important to do it the right way. The gradual relaxation of the previous lockdowns is excellent, but it poses brand new challenges and market uncertainties for all kinds of businesses. With that in mind, let’s look at the changes you will need to make to your business in the coming period.
The New Normal
Despite many areas of the world emerging from lockdown, the global health scare is far from over, and the pandemic may yet return in waves before a vaccine is found, so clearly we have in no way returned to “normal.” Whenever this situation subsides, we can expect to see vast changes in global economic life. If long-maintained cultural norms are changing, business norms and behaviors are likely to follow suit.
Reopening your business after COVID-19 requires maintaining a precarious balance. You need to restart your business after a significant interruption with minimal losses, but also increase health safety measures in the workplace. This isn’t just a reopening; it’s something of a reinvention.
This means a variety of changes. For one, companies will find themselves investing in the areas they should have addressed sooner. The words of the day are “efficiency” and “safety.” With so many companies switching to remote work for the last few months, management structures across the world are examining whether they need to think about changing workplaces in the long term.
For a while, open-space commercial properties won’t be facing a lot of demand. Remote work and individual offices are more effective in terms of combating potential pandemics and COVID-19 relapses—something we wouldn’t have thought about just a half a year ago.
Digitization is becoming more important than ever. With the advent of computers in the last two decades, the switch from analog business practices to digital ones was an inevitability for all companies and sectors. The Coronavirus pandemic has only accelerated this process. When entire world governments are run via Zoom meetings, evaluating the role of technology in the running of your company deserves some thought.
Changing Workplace Relations
The pandemic has made people physically distant, but closer in some ways, as well. After many years of profit-first politics, the humanitarian face companies want to show to consumers via customer relationship management (CRM) is finally put to the test. This is why reopening your business should include a reevaluation of the relations between management and lower-level employees, as well as the relations within those levels.
Research shows that anxiety is at unprecedented high levels now that businesses are reopening. Many people have lost their jobs, and a majority of the 60 percent of those remaining in their posts are worried about their own job security. On the other hand, people also are concerned about their health, and the health of their families.
All of this means that positive encouragement and reassurance is going to be required to maintain morale and productivity. Try to give all of your employees a voice in how the reopening will be organized, while providing coordination and guidance where necessary.
Many workers have been furloughed during the pandemic. However, just because you cannot afford to give them paid leave doesn’t mean you can’t utilize their skills to mutual benefit. Try to create a new business plan that retains furloughed employees in part-time roles or as freelancers for individual tasks.
A huge portion of company policies will need to be revisited during the pandemic, particularly those revolving around more vulnerable sections of the workforce. This includes people without health plans (an obvious issue during a pandemic), single parents, and workers suffering from disabilities.
The health concerns stemming from this extremely infectious pandemic have altered the way we perceive our workplaces almost overnight. The days of the huddled-together cubicles may well be behind us. Future commercial space planning will involve more opportunities for mutual seclusion between employees.
Many companies are hiring moving firms to relocate them to new offices—partially because they’ve let go enough people to warrant a smaller office space, and partially because the rent and overhead on large commercial spaces is an issue for businesses on a tighter budget.
It’s also important to note most people who have never worked remotely are much more eager to do so now. When reopening your business, consider the possibility of leaving as many people on remote work as you can—at least for the next few months.
In the case of bigger companies with middle management, the relevant leaders will have to adjust to managing a combination of physical and virtual teams using contemporary technology. Physical contact will be far more limited at least over the duration of 2020, and possibly after that, as well. For companies that cannot function remotely, different shift hours may have to be implemented. Crucial workers who have to be physically near each other also should be separated from the rest.
Jonathan Daniels is a freelance economics journalist. When he’s not working with logistics companies such as goodneighborsmoving.com and writing about them, he frequents the Appalachian mountains and takes long hikes.