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Five Important Business Lessons To Apply In Difficult Times

Every difficult situation creates an opportunity if you’re willing to look for it. The COVID-19 pandemic is no exception to that. Due to the economic impact of the virus, companies have had to transform how they conduct business on the fly. The lengths to which each organization has to adapt varies based upon their state prior to the pandemic.

While every business and industry is different, these lessons can be applicable to everyone in some manner. Those who are the most adaptive and nimble will win. Here are five lessons and trends that are here to stay.

1. Build infrastructure that can accommodate virtual work where possible.

One of the most fascinating lessons on how the pandemic reshaped “work” has been observing just how differently organizations have evolved over the last two decades. Some companies have fully embraced the work-from-home culture, having already built systems that can be remotely accessed and supplied their employees with laptops and other remote devices. Other organizations had to scramble, with company info on-premises and employees with only desktop computers.

The concept of working remotely is here to stay. Who wants to commute to an office every day if it isn’t a necessity? Securely accessing CRM data and other necessary tools should not be chained to the confines of a physical office.

2. Systemize how you manage your workforce.

Successful companies have one thing in common: They’ve built tried-and-true systems and processes that work like a well-oiled machine. There aren’t any organizations that are consistently profitable and growing that also operate in an unorganized manner. Building a system to manage your workforce is no different.

Now is the time to evaluate your workforce management processes and technology. As reported by the Harvard Business Review, firms that invest in IT during business slowdowns are at an advantage because their opportunity cost is lower.

So, is your onboarding process still paper based? Where are you storing employee info? Do employees have self-service capabilities? The questions go on, but the theme remains the same: Embrace technology, and build systems.

There is no doubt that this will pass. Organizations that have furloughed or laid off employees must be prepared to quickly and efficiently rehire so they can begin to recover with as little delay as possible. Don’t wait to get your house in order if your business isn’t ready.

3. Find talent based on skill, not geographic location.

No one disputes that change is inevitable, but what makes these changes so different is how quickly they’ve come. Change brings opportunities, and the companies that embrace the new advantages faster will win bigger.

One of the most valuable opportunities is the increased ability to source talent from a wider pool; this is especially true for non-revenue-generating roles. For example, businesses have embraced using outsourced IT and data security companies for years because it allows access to the best specialized people at a fraction of the cost. This model can be duplicated in other areas of your business and can present an ideal opportunity to upskill while simultaneously lowering overhead costs.

4. Rethink security.

It’s an unfortunate fact that criminals will take advantage of any dire situation. According to a recent Forbes article, INTERPOL has “detected a significant increase in cyberattacks against hospitals around the world that are engaged in the COVID-19 response.”

This is troubling news, especially as organizations move to a remote environment out of necessity. Now is the time to act and implement the proper security protocols for your organization. Consider where you store critical data, how employees access and distribute this data, and how adequately employees are trained on the topic of security.

To supplement these measures, I recommend that you have a cybersecurity insurance policy in place and that you are actively monitoring and screening for threats.

5. Serve your employees.

A silver lining to these challenging times has been a refocus on priorities in both a personal and business setting. In both, it really is all about people. This has been a reminder to serve your employees — without them, there is no business. Empower and trust your employees, and they will reward you with excellent work and a vibrant company culture. As a C-level executive or manager, you are there to serve them, not the other way around.

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