While the COVID-19 pandemic was and still is, a severely disruptive albeit transformative event. In 2020, companies had to experiment with new technologies to survive, from rapidly shifting towards digital interactions to staff working remotely. The global pandemic brought radical changes. This wasn’t the first time businesses had to quickly adjust though, and it certainly won’t be the last. We have examples ranging from women suddenly joining the workforce during WWII, the Internet transforming communication with email, the events of 9/11 interrupting all travel, natural disasters disconnecting entire countries, and the list goes on.
Unfortunately, in most of these cases and certainly in 2020, many weren’t prepared for change and couldn’t swiftly adapt or innovate to the new reality. As much as we hope this won’t happen again, realistically there will be other major events that cause urgent technology and changes in the work environment, so how do we make sure we’re prepared?
Proactive > Reactive
We know it’s better to be proactive than reactive, but many businesses struggle to put this action into play. Understandably, but regrettably, most people fall into the reactive box because they are “too busy” focusing on other priorities. The need to be proactive is even more imperative during a crisis. Your organization can be better prepared to detect and mitigate risks before they occur by strategically planning for potential events. Detailing multiple strategies ahead of time will ultimately determine whether an organization sinks or swims in a crisis.
Business Continuity Readiness
A study by a global consultancy firm showed that more than half of companies (51%) around the world have no plans or protocols in place to combat a global emergency, such as COVID-19. How better would companies have been if they had an effective Business Continuity Plan in place before the pandemic? A Business Continuity Plan is a formal document that outlines steps an organization takes to keep system maintenance, IT infrastructure, cloud connectivity, and staff activities operational during an unplanned event.
You have the opportunity to take what we’ve learned from the COVID-19 crisis and apply it to a future event. Create a Business Continuity Plan not necessarily for a system-wide disaster but one that incorporates your business’s experience and lessons learned from this pandemic. Identifying possible future adaptation measures will help ensure your business has a solid foundation to survive another crisis, and then recover and rebuild successfully, once it’s over.
The Work-From-Home Experiment
In May 2020, over one-third of employees worked from home due to the pandemic, compared to only 6% of employees before the pandemic. How well did your company execute this dramatic shift? It’s likely the massively altered office dynamics and disrupted workplace culture also increased reliance on technology and cybersecurity tenfold. Additional costs came with this reliance on new technology. Many businesses were shocked to discover this and unprepared for it, due to a lack of planning and budget forecasting for such an event.
There is a dramatic difference between the companies that fared well in the new work-from-home structure, than the companies that did not. One such example of a company that fared well is our client, Jelmar, LLC. Jelmar is a manufacturing and chemical company that was prepared for the rapid shift to work-from-home. They were also prepared for the massive increase in consumer cleaning demands. They had the proper technology tools in place pre-pandemic to scale with the demand, while providing connectivity to all their systems so staff could effectively work remotely.
Preparing for a crisis event takes thought and time. Organizations should review what they need to be successful during the next major event. Do you have the connectivity access and the scalable technology that you need to remain operational and profitable? If the internet goes down, can billing and orders still run? Or does someone have to physically go to the office to ensure products are shipped out and everyone gets paid? What existing systems and processes should we optimize? What data trends should we review? Asking these questions provides insight into how you can make your business more lean and agile to accommodate rapid change.
Be Financially Ready for the Unexpected
This unprecedented economic crisis proved it’s crucial to develop a budget-appropriate plan that includes resources to deliver effective remote working conditions. This includes data integrity and security, an integrated IT infrastructure, and agile business process management. According to a 2020 Gartner Inc. survey, only 12% of more than 1,500 respondents believed their business was highly prepared for the impact of coronavirus.
One way to prepare for emergencies is to allocate appropriate funds for them in the Business Continuity Plan. This safeguards your business to remain operational during a crisis event while paying off additional, and surprising, expenses. It’ll also guarantee your staff has the necessary tools to feel supported to continue to do their job successfully. This will also reduce employee turnover and improve retention during an already highly stressful and challenging time, for both staff and the organization.
Strategic Agility and Resilience
In addition to proper budget planning for unexpected IT expenses, embracing agility and resilience is also vital to an organization. This is especially noticeable during a pandemic. Agile and resilient organizations reimagine themselves to stay afloat in a volatile, unpredictable, and complex world. Remaining agile and resilient afterward also proves to be extremely useful, so focus on this as you move towards the future. Invest in the right tools like high-quality, scalable technology, double down on communication to empower and motivate staff, create a long-term Business Continuity Plan to develop digital capabilities, optimize business processes and existing assets, and stick to your mission. All of these, and more, will help secure your company before another disaster hits.
The experts say the reality of another pandemic happening in our lifetime is high, and that’s just one potential cause for a large ‘event’. That’s why now, more than ever, it’s crucial for businesses to prepare. Our managed services team works with clients to help them create a strong and effective disaster recovery plan that’ll help navigate your company through the unpredictable waters that lie ahead.