Nobody can deny that the past 18 months have been some of the toughest times ever for businesses across the world. The Covid-19 pandemic forced companies, firms and organisations into adapting to completely different work environments, economies and implementing new technology. But, as nations around the world are emerging from the worst economic climate since World War II, how do they get back on their feet and start to thrive again? We’ve collated our top tips for leading your business through the Covid-19 pandemic to help you.
The impact of Covid-19 on businesses and organisations
When the pandemic hit the world in December 2019, no government, business or organisation worldwide was prepared for the devastating impact it would have. PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021 has demonstrated that: over 70% of businesses from all international nations said they were negatively impacted by the pandemic, and just 20% said it had a positive impact. More than 2,800 businesses responded to this Survey; a key message from the results was that of ‘business resilience’. A huge 95% of the business leaders said they needed to improve their crisis management capabilities in order to respond quickly and effectively to disruption. But, organisational resilience is also part of succeeding in business and the 62% of businesses using a crisis plan during the pandemic are far more likely to come out of the pandemic in better shape than the others.
Top tips for leading your business through the pandemic
- Monitor and track cash flow – we all know we should keep a closer eye on cash flow, but when business is strong and the orders are flowing, it’s one of those activities that seems to get put aside. Not identifying cash flow issues early enough caught many people out when the Covid-19 pandemic hit them. In fact, there are many businesses who don’t have a cashflow forecast, let alone one which is updated regularly. Developing a cash flow forecast not only helps you understand your current and future financial situation, it ensures you are ready for any socio-economic changes.
- Manage your supply chain – business resilience is only as good as its supply chain. Any crisis management plan must include managing your supply chain and ensuring you have back-up alternatives should your normal suppliers be having issues delivering to you. Sometimes, it’s just a case that they can’t deliver all the products you’ve ordered; other times, it’s a delay in delivery. Whatever the situation, it’s crucial to develop a good working relationship with all your suppliers, ensuring regular updates from both sides and better communication so that you can make the necessary adjustments.
- Maintain and improve customer/supplier relationships – if there’s a key lesson to learn from the pandemic, it is to not only maintain, but also improve your relationships with suppliers and customers. Communication is knowledge; knowledge is information on which every business or organisation thrives. The more you talk, the more you know, the better your strategic business decisions, the happier your customers and suppliers will be. Most businesses globally had to adapt to an online digital world almost overnight. It became crucial to keep customers up-to-date and reassured; it was also critical to keep suppliers on-board to ensure you could still deliver to your customers.
- Stay up-to-date with the latest Covid-18 developments – part of any business leader’s job is to stay up-to-date on the latest developments as we come out of the pandemic. This doesn’t mean drowning in the endless sensationalism via social media posts and in the news. That’s only likely to cause confusion and panic among your employees, customers and suppliers. Regularly visit the Government’s support and online advice pages to help you devise a strategy in leading your business through the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Look after the health and wellbeing of employees – PwC’s Global Crisis Survey 2021 showed that the single most important action for businesses and organisations worldwide that stemmed from the pandemic was focusing on the health and wellbeing of their staff. This included continuing to offer remote working combined with the flexibility of going to the office a couple of days a week. It also meant ensuring the right health and safety protocols are implemented so staff are confident in returning to the office, and helping employees to work through any hardships or personal issues. An overwhelming 80% of survey respondents put the consideration of their employees’ emotional and physical needs top of the list.
- Implementing new technology for the wellbeing of staff – A survey from Deloitte found that during the pandemic, 75% of employees have used at least two new types of technology for work. With so many employees still working from home and wanting to continue with remote working (or a hybrid work model), businesses and organisations are expected to offer more inclusive digital technology to ensure remote and office-based staff can collaborate and interact not just on a work level, but on a social level as well.
- Trust your teams – at the start of the pandemic lockdowns, there was an upsurge in the use of monitoring devices to check staff were doing what they should be doing when working from home. In reality, data showed that productivity levels increased by 4.5% per worker. Many employers found they were able to trust their employees to do their work and saw an increase in their level of productivity as a result.
- Look after social wellbeing – a crucial aspect to successful remote working is maintaining your employees’ mental wellbeing, wherever they are located. Regular communication and updates, virtual social coffee mornings, informal catch-ups, lunch and learn sessions and social activities outside of work all help to create a hybrid working environment. There are a variety of interactive platforms, like Powell Software’s Together, that create a work and socially inclusive environment.
- Be adaptable and open to change – our natural reaction is to resist change, but during the pandemic, business owners were forced to adapt and change quickly. As you lead your business through the Covid-19 pandemic, it’s important to learn those lessons and you may find that your business model no longer caters for the needs of your customers, suppliers and employees. There may also be new and exciting opportunities to explore that will allow you to successfully diversify your business.
- Planning for the future – without doubt, every business across the world has been through significant change. The key to the future is assessing what worked and what didn’t, and considering implementing what worked on a permanent basis for the future success of the company. Some aspects, such as remote working or creating a hybrid environment and using technology to develop a more collaborative, inclusive work environment, can be sustained in the long-term.
Whether we will ever be free of Covid-19 entirely or not is another debate, but what the last 18 months has done is change the global business environment indefinitely. We hope our top tips towards leading your business through the Covid-19 pandemic will help you get your business back on its feet.
If your business is struggling with debts, facing compulsory liquidation or you’re considering winding up an insolvent company voluntarily and you have a solvent company that you would like to close, the first step is to seek professional advice. Our highly experienced professionals at Leading UK are on hand to help and advise you on the process.