The coronavirus lockdown has caused substantial changes to the way we work. The economy has been impacted at an unprecedented level, and the lockdown is being eased to help it recover. More people will be going back to their workplaces after being furloughed or working from home for months.
In March, businesses showed their flexibility by allowing 90% of their workforce to work from home in a few days – this rate was previously 5%. We must now continue to make major changes to adapt to the new post-coronavirus economy.
Health and safety measures are a top priority
While the coronavirus remains prevalent in the UK, encourage your employees to continue working from home where possible. This may require investment in the hardware they need, but it’s the best way to #KeepBritainWorking for now.
Those who need to travel to work must be supported by their organisation so they can stay safe. This could mean investing in more parking for employees so they can avoid public transport - or implementing a cycle scheme.
Within the workplace ensure employees have appropriate safety equipment including masks and hand sanitiser – especially if they are required to make face-to-face contact with others. While government guidance on social distancing has changed to allow for an easier return to normality, it is still best to stay as far apart as possible.
To keep your workers motivated, they must feel safe and secure. Looking after their physical health is important, but you must also always be aware that some workers will be anxious about returning to work if they are unable to work from home. They will need reassurance, while employers need a plan to protect people from stress – managers should be supporting their teams as best they can and reviewing and measuring their success.
Restoring supply and demand
It is essential to have a detailed plan – with the crucial caveat that it is agile enough for you to make changes at any time. You must be predictive and proactive in your decision making, and at each stage, you should communicate your plans with workers at all stages of the supply chain, as well as customers, to promote transparency as you navigate new procedures.
Supply – This plan should consider each step of your supply chain: from suppliers to tracking and logistics. Especially in the food sector, you’ll need to ensure you can trace products at every stage and that you have high standards of sanitation.
Customers will not buy from companies they don’t trust to handle their items safely. You may need additional storage space to quarantine products before you can sell them and to upgrade your tracking systems if you haven’t already. Establishing a ‘control tower’ method means you can predict what will happen from end to end, including coverage rates and availability of raw materials.
Each region may have different regulations, systems, space, and personnel, which means further adapting your plan depending on location will be crucial. Agility and communication will be the key to your supply chain’s success.
Demand – To revive demand in a recession, companies should aim to walk the line between raising prices and avoiding a price war with other companies. Tactical pricing should also be ethical as customers, consumer associations and public authorities will closely monitor your pricing practices.
Another key concern is monitoring demand at different stages of the crisis. Lockdown is easing, but the coronavirus has not gone away. Just as you may have changed your methods, consumers will change brands and test out their new preferences. You will need to sharpen your ability to detect changes in demand, as they’re currently more fluid than they were.
Your customers increasingly want a personalised service due to increasing data awareness, so you must provide them with pragmatic solutions to any problems and nurture your customers to ensure brand loyalty.
Rethink your technological systems
Many systems that were thought to be far into the future are being used now as a response to the crisis.
Most of the UK workforce became remote workers almost immediately after the lockdown was announced. This is likely to continue, even as the lockdown eases. IT departments now must deal with unprecedented levels of requests, and the demand for good technology has rapidly accelerated.
Employees are using new systems such as video calling software and it’s important to make everything cybersecure, especially as it’s being used on a mass scale within companies.
Customers are also doing most of their shopping online – companies should optimise their platforms and create innovative methods of communication to accommodate this. In Asia, for example, several car manufacturers have created virtual showrooms that customers can visit from their homes.
Marketers will need more data to dictate their digital marketing and media spend and stimulate demand with greater precision. Algorithms from the pre-pandemic world, and assumptions on digital adoption rates, will need to be reassessed.
As your technology grows, employees will need more training in the systems that can improve their performance – especially in terms of cybersecurity – such as password hygiene.
A lot has changed since the coronavirus started, requiring us to rethink traditional methods and implementing agile systems for every element of business. The companies that thrive after the lockdown will be the ones who have reacted well to the change.
Get in touch with the Reed Talent Solutions team to discuss how your business can respond to the challenges presented by the coronavirus.