When the number of COVID-19 cases and deaths outside China began to increase in early 2020, many businesses and organizations quickly sprung into action. The weeks that followed were spent reviewing business continuity plans, setting up crisis command centers, and ensuring employees’ health and safety.
Now, several months into this pandemic, most companies are in the process of navigating the “new normal” while responding to fresh challenges as they arise.
To help manage the current situation and to prepare for the future, businesses should focus on six key areas:
- Crisis management
- Supply chain
- Brand and strategy
The best strategy is to create separate plans for each of these categories and act quickly to allow the business to emerge from this crisis stronger than ever.
Businesses should have a crisis command center with a dedicated crisis management team to handle strategic and logistical challenges. This team can then share objective, up-to-date information with executive leadership, employees, and all other stakeholders.
Having a dedicated team frees up senior leaders so they can focus on the other five key areas. If an organization already has a command center in place, it is important to assess its weaknesses and make changes if necessary.
In times of crisis where job security is a major concern, leadership must communicate what measures are being taken to secure their employees. An important step is to define clusters of activity that can still function and figure out which employees are in charge and who has the necessary skills to support it. This is also an opportunity to identify gaps in workforce skills and provide training to cover these gaps.
Businesses must also ensure that employees working remotely are both efficient and safe. Remote workers must be provided with the tools they need to be productive as well as protection from physical and cyber-attacks.
Sydney Finkelstein, Professor of Management at Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, is a firm believer in nurturing talent. He says that to be successful in the long term, business leaders must be able to generate and regenerate talent continuously. They should constantly keep an eye out for talented workers, create opportunities for them, and help them become better at what they do. The best way to develop talent, according to Finkelstein, is to work directly with people one-on-one.
COVID-19 has shattered supply chains globally, and it may take a while before everything returns to normal. Businesses must therefore assess availability across the supply chain and realistically determine demand. Having a plan in place to reactivate orders once restrictions are eased and once demand picks up again is also a must. Companies can explore a wide range of tools to collect up-to-date data and model their supply chain operations proactively.
Governments around the world are making changes to their tax regulations, affecting both direct and indirect taxes. These changes may vary from one place to another, so businesses should consult with qualified tax professionals to receive expert advice as to how to navigate these new waters.
Brand and strategy
Any action that businesses take will affect the way people see their brand. Now would be the best time for companies to protect their growth and profitability by understanding the market. Amid the uncertainty, companies need to have regular financial modeling exercises. It may also be helpful to include new models that take into consideration what took place in past pandemics.