Business continuity is top of mind right now—with the global pandemic changing the way we live and work, organizations must rethink their futures.
But what strategies can one employ to ensure the continuity of an organization when so much is still uncertain?
We share 7 key strategies that will help businesses make it to the end of a crisis with their organization and goodwill intact.
1. Putting Employees First
No business would survive without the people who prop it up—the company’s employees.
Businesses need to take steps to guarantee employee safety—this means getting the necessary cleaning supplies, equipment, and personnel to make the workplace more hygienic.
Remember that your business is the livelihood of others—one missed salary may not impact the company negatively but could devastate an employee’s life.
Ensure that salaries are paid on time and that efforts are made for remote workflow so no one finds themselves out of work.
Review insurance policies and strongly consider extending insurance to cover part-time, freelance, and contract workers who are more at risk because of the temporary nature of their work.
Understand that this is an unprecedented situation and that employees will require more flexibility with regards to working hours and style.
People now have to care for their children who are taking online classes at home—this will make it more difficult for them to adhere to regular schedules.
Employees’ needs must be met first, not just to ensure the smooth running of your company and overall business continuity but also to maintain goodwill with the staff and in the community.
2. Setting Up Remote Work
Though not every crisis will necessitate remote working protocols, the environment we are living in currently definitely calls for it and should be followed if you want to ensure business continuity.
A number of companies have tried to skirt the remote work issue, deeming themselves and their employees essential and thus making them come into work even when it is unsafe to do so.
Avoid being like these businesses—they have not only been roundly criticized by the public but have also warranted rules being brought in place to penalize them.
Instead, set up remote working provisions as quickly as possible—the IT team should be put on the job and teams should be given a rundown of remote practices.
Teams like marketing should easily be able to make the switch to remote work—use this guide to help the remote marketing team continue working as normal.
However, one should remember that the direction of the marketing team’s messaging will have to be adapted for the current climate.
Other teams may not be able to make the transition to remote work as easily, or at all—consider offering paid leave during this period to minimize the risk to their wellbeing.
3. Crisis Team: Assemble
We know the saying: too many cooks spoil the broth. You don’t need every manager to be in charge of dealing with the crisis.
Instead, choose a handful of employees to build the crisis management team: the CEO of the company should be in this group, as should the IT manager, office manager, marketing head, operations manager, and customer relationship manager.
This core team will brainstorm the next steps, messaging, deploying project management tools, how best to respond to immediate issues, as well as future problems that may crop up.
By working together, the crisis team can plan how to ride out the wave of the current environment and ensure that the business comes out stronger on the other side.
4. Reviewing Policies
Every business is being affected by the current pandemic—events management companies more so than others.
If your company has sold tickets or registrations for an event that now needs to be canceled, you need to look at your customer policies immediately.
What are your statements about Force Majeure? Do they apply to a situation of this magnitude? How much wiggle room do you have to process refunds?
Can your event be rescheduled for 2021? You also need to let your customers know where you stand in this situation—will you be postponing events or canceling them outright?
Moving your business online needs you to rethink how to incorporate packaging and delivery—look into how to run an online store before agreeing to fulfill orders.
Upcoming client meetings should be rescheduled to be held online or postponed.
The same with deals or exchanges with suppliers, which need to be examined thoroughly. Inventory management processes have been impacted so you need to ask yourself where you can refuse deliveries now.
If not, where can you safely house items until you can distribute or use them?
Every policy you have in place needs to be thoroughly examined to ensure that your business can continue in some form once the crisis ends.
5. Crisis Communication
Effective communication is essential in a crisis—everyone involved with your business needs to know what is happening, what you are doing to handle the situation, and how it impacts them.
Even if you have absolutely no idea what to do, you need to at least communicate that you are aware of the situation.
Let your first email to customers, clients, customers, suppliers, donors, or the board be that you are tracking the issue and will be sharing updates when you have them.
Once you have a better understanding of how to proceed, let your stakeholders know—that events have been canceled, employees have been asked to work from home, or that more cleaning supplies are being employed in stores.
Restaurants that need to make the swift change to takeout and delivery only should be letting their customers know that they have teamed up with delivery apps and are offering contactless delivery.
If you aren’t sure how to establish clear communication procedures, use these Coronavirus templates to keep staff and clients informed about what they can do to stay safe and help their communities.
Most importantly, do not pretend like it is business as usual—it isn’t and you must acknowledge the situation if you want to maintain your relationships.
6. Audit Financial Plans
Your business’ bank account is going to take a hit during this pandemic—you need to understand this and move to mitigate the issue.
Start auditing your current financial position and look at how your business will be impacted in the coming days.
Chart the projected revenue for the next quarter up to six months, and balance it against the cost to business—salaries, rent, and insurance.
You will have already lost business since the current crisis began—estimate what you need to do to keep the business going in terms of clients and projects.
If things are looking bleak, seriously consider changing the payment systems for the upper management—far too many companies have lost business due to policies that negatively impacted lower-ranked staff while the C-Suite continued to receive their usual salaries.
7. Renewing Business Strategies
One of the most challenging aspects of the current situation has been how to maintain one’s business when the inflow of revenue has all but stopped.
What new revenue streams can you pivot to? Have you considered affiliate marketing? Is there a way to monetize your business online? What impact will that have on your in-store staff?
Restaurants are pivoting to delivery services, and events are moving to online streaming—these are all revenue streams that can keep your business buoyed till the end of the crisis.
Businesses that had global outreach can become more local or community-focused—not only will you be enriching your immediate community but you will ensure business continuity.
The 7 strategies we have outlined above will help your business stay afloat and tide you over till the eventual end of the current pandemic.
These strategies aren’t meant to be used one at a time—instead, a combination of these will assure your company continues to thrive and become stronger.
About the Author: Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at Venngage, the online infographic maker and design platform. She enjoys writing about, design, social media, digital marketing, as well as pop culture and diversity. Twitter: @Venngage