We knew this could eventually become reality, and we’re all facing the hard truth now: a resurgent wave of Coronavirus is evidenced across the UK and EU (and many other countries also). Companies and professionals, all need a clear, well-defined plan to prepare for a rolling operational lockdown, and workforces need adequate preparedness
During the first lockdown, many companies barely got by. This was true of small businesses and large enterprises alike. Whether it was the disruption to the supply chain or the sudden change to remote work, business leaders were caught off guard. It disrupted how businesses work, stressed precious cash flow and operations. Many business models didn’t hold up and the economic downturn became inevitable.
So the question now is, how do you prepare your business for more lockdowns? Well, one of the most important things a company can surely do is to communicate right – less haste, more speed
Communication during a business lockdown means more than scrambling to patch up holes as you find them. It means building a comprehensive solution that addresses rolling challenges, both for the clients and the team. People need to be in touch. They need to talk to each other, share thoughts, and see each other. It’s important to see facial expressions, read body language, and build personal connections, even when you’re connecting online.
No company can afford to get it wrong! But getting it right means your business will thrive during a second wave of the coronavirus, and well into the future.
And along with the above, there are many more actions a business should focus on while entering the second lockdown. Let’s take a closer look.
Targeting and Frameworks
When it comes to agile and cohesive communications, large organisations benefit from targeting uncertainty in layers.
- Corporate staff across departments
- Corporate staff across multiple territories
- Field staff across departments
- and so on
Putting a comms framework together which enables the distribution of targeted information, is key for complex enterprises to create clear, cohesive and audience-specific messaging and putting that framework into action quickly. It also enables comms leaders to create a tone of voice and highlight must-know items related to that operational layer. Get it right and the framework is a rapid vehicle for workforce clarity
Review & Update
What went well during the March lockdown and what could you have been done differently?
Understanding the pinch points of your business’ response will allow you to address these in your business continuity plan and be better prepared. In addition, it will reveal the areas in which you excelled, perhaps by quickly pivoting to a new product or range, embracing digital technology to continue trading, or adapting to lockdown with a new business model or strategy.
This is not the time to settle for less, it’s the time to be proactive and get your company geared up!
Assess the Risks in your Supply Chain
Undeniably the coronavirus lockdown had a considerable impact on supply chains on a global scale, which in many cases halted production entirely or increased lead times. Businesses should review the risks that a new lockdown could pose to their supply chains and take appropriate actions to alleviate the impact.
In the event of more new national lockdowns being announced on an international level, supplies from outside the country you’re operating in could once again be difficult to source. A business could therefore consider shifting to alternative local suppliers or even explore opportunities to design and develop parts in-house which would minimize risk even further.
Businesses will also need to establish a plan on how to best manage and communicate with suppliers. For example, if your business is required to close again you may need to freeze or cancel certain orders. It will be important to know your suppliers’ policies to avoid additional costs and ensure you have the cash flow required to continue operating.
Integrate your communications method
If clients can get in touch easily, they will continue to do business. We’ve briefly mentioned this in our intro paragraph: if your team can communicate effectively, they will continue to be productive. But just providing different ways to get in touch is not enough.
To achieve business continuity, communications need to be professional, reliable, and cost-effective. Your system should be able to integrate different comms channels, guarantee quality and security, and be scalable: as the business grows, the need for effective communications will also grow – even after the coronavirus outbreak!
Unified communications maintain your professional image, boost quality, and ensures security. It also means you are providing all the tools your team needs. So they’re not spending time finding free online tools, just to get through a second lockdown.
More importantly, it benefits clients. They’ll always know how to get in touch, and always get an answer. As a result, it keeps your business on the right trajectory. You’ll maintain productivity and professionalism – without a huge cost impact on your business.
Cross-train your workforce
During the past few months, businesses will have developed a good understanding of which business functions were the most impacted by the pandemic and subsequent lockdown and required additional support. To ensure business continuity, employers should look to cross-train the workforce to maximize flexibility and be able to redeploy staff as needed much faster the second time around.
What about implementing a quick and simple skills audit? Managers will be able to identify skill gaps as well as areas where critical work is reliant on a single person and could pose a risk to the business if a leave of absence was required, while employees will understand where there’s room for their professional growth!
Support mental and physical wellness
Employee mental health and well-being should be at the forefront of all conversations when planning and preparing for new lockdown measures. With businesses required to shut once again and employees called to fully return to remote working this could significantly impact their mental health. Returning to a new lockdown can feel like taking a step backward and can be demoralizing and a source of anxiety for your employees.
The UK Gov’s Mental Health and Wellbeing Resources Pack provide a wealth of information to help you manage employee mental health during this period and includes a library of local, national, and international support services.
The above considerations are growing in importance every day. Preparing for another business lockdown is becoming a reality. Whether your employees are working from home full time or your company is transitioning to a distributed team in different countries, remember to support them at all levels: at the end of the day, they’re your biggest asset!