The 2020 coronavirus has caused disruption for businesses worldwide. With our "new normal" involving face masks, social distancing and self-isolation we can only wonder how this will affect our businesses in a post-pandemic world. In this blog, we discuss some ways to help your business recover from the pandemic and how to navigate into this new normal.
How has the coronavirus affected businesses?
Since the coronavirus began to take hold in early 2020, businesses, countries and individuals around the world have been thrown into a state of chaos and uncertainty. And, as we begin to slowly exit our lockdown period, UK businesses are left wondering what this could mean for them.
The UK economy shrank 20% between April and June compared to the first three months of the year. As a result, the UK economy officially entered recession for the first time in 11 years. What’s more, due to business closures, furlough and the increase in redundancies, unemployment levels are on the rise. According to the Guardian, the current number of unemployed people in Britain is 4% of the working population. This number is thought to rise to almost 12% by the end of the year following the wind down of the government’s furlough scheme.
With many countries still on high alert for the virus, international trade, tourism, air travel and more have all been heavily impacted. It can be easy to become overwhelmed and even scared of what the future will hold, with many negative news stories and headlines accelerating these feelings.
So, how are UK businesses to respond to this current climate and survive the pandemic? Below we share some tips to help your business to navigate into this new normal.
Ultimately, the businesses that are most likely to survive with minimal scrapes and bruises are the ones that are most open to change and adapting to the climate. Being adaptable may feel difficult regardless of your size of enterprise: large businesses may find it more difficult to introduce change quickly and smaller businesses may struggle to find the resources they need to be able to introduce the changes that they want. Keeping an open mind to new ideas from your employees, industry leaders, social media and news stories can help to spark new ways you can adapt to survive.
Many of us have adapted already – and we may not even have realised! For example, since the pandemic arose, many of us have been encouraged to work from home and carry out any meetings via Zoom – not something that was done prior to the pandemic. In many cases, being adaptable might mean trial and error, experimenting (within reason!) to find approaches that work best.
Have a flexible approach to working practices
Since the coronavirus, working from home has become the new normal, and “new normal” has become a part of our everyday terminology. Above all, it’s important to keep yourself and co-workers safe and to do this, a flexible approach to working practices is required.
Wherever possible give staff options for the type of working that works best for them. This could take the form of home working (all or part of the time), staggered working hours to help reduce the footfall within offices, or working from the office with appropriate safety measures put in place (e.g. screens and hand sanitising stations).
Be understanding to staff when announcing new changes to your working practices as they may not be the best fit for everyone. Let staff know that they can approach you about discussing any changes and that you’re all in it together.
Whilst we aren’t always able to predict what will happen in the future, planning ahead can help you to survive the current economic uncertainty. There are a number of ways you can plan for the future, for example if you are worried about outgoing expenditure you can put a hiring freeze on until you are more certain of your finances.
If you work in an open plan office with lots of people, several workers getting ill at the same time is likely a large concern for the business. A potential planning ahead solution for this would be to introduce staggered working hours or working from home thus minimising staff-to-staff contact. Additionally, create a non-judgement culture where, if staff are feeling ill, they don’t feel obliged to come into the busy office where their germs will spread.
If you’re worried about stagnant cash flow problems, use an automated process to send your invoices out. Automating your invoice process will help to minimise the risk of late payment and save you time by automatically generating invoice statements and emails.
Be creative in offering your products and services
One of the surprising positive effects to come out of the coronavirus pandemic is the creativity that businesses are tapping into. Since lockdown, many businesses have been forced to find new ways to offer their products and services. To do this, a creative and flexible approach is fundamental. There are several channels and methods that your business can engage with to help promote your products and services creatively.
Go online – since lockdown having in-person interactions has been challenging to say the least. So, if you haven’t already, find a way to share your products and services online.
Social media – social media is a great way to connect with your customers and share up to date information on your business in relation to coronavirus. There are lots of opportunities to be creative with promoting your business on social media. Brainstorm ideas with your marketing team and trial some approaches until you find the ones that work best.
Be unique – what can you offer that no one else currently is? Coronavirus has given many businesses a fresh opportunity to dive into a new niche.