The COVID-19 pandemic has upended every aspect of daily life, from everything from personal to global levels. The unprecedented events showed many companies and most people that they were unprepared for an event of this magnitude, let alone one of this length. Companies found themselves struggling to adapt to the new way of life, and many found themselves unable to. With talks of vaccines and the end of the pandemic becoming more common, now is the time for companies to reassess their exit strategy. Yes, the COVID-19 pandemic will end, but planning for the end will help counteract some potentially devastating side effects for your company.
While it may be overwhelming to think about, you have to find a way to think objectively about both short-term and long-term effects of the pandemic, and the best ways to fix them. Gartner outlines the best ways to begin recovering from the effects of COVID-19 on business, and breaks it down into three stages: Respond, Recover, and Renew. However, from here, everything becomes individualized for each company will find themselves in different states and have different needs, affected by the country and industry they find themselves in. Some companies may find different departments moving at different rates in the journey out of the pandemic. The most important thing to remember is that your company can only move into the next phase when it is ready.
The first phase, Respond, is a potentially chaotic time as companies sort out the most pressing issues, such as keeping employees safe and essential operations going to the best of their ability. Think of this as a Band-Aid on a cut, a temporary fix to something that will need much more attention at a later point. This will move—and potentially overlap with—the next phase, Recover. Here, companies will take more coordinated approaches to stabilizing operations, taking many different aspects and departments in account to see how everything works together to continue operations in a more normal environment. Specifics can be focused on, such as areas that need to be strengthened, reconsidered, rehired, and more. From here, the third phase, Renew, can begin, and again, may overlap with one or both of the previous phases based on what parts of your company are being focused on or need the most help. In the third phase, the longest of the three phases, take a strategic approach in creating a sustainable business model, using lessons learned through the first two phases. There is a good chance that your company will not look and function the same way as it had before the pandemic, so it is important to acknowledge that and adapt to the new way of operations.
Through these phases, there are important questions that you and your company will have to ask. The pandemic and its effects may expose nonessential or underperforming departments, which will allow you to reassess their performance and operations before seeing how to move forward with a stronger version of these departments. Related to this, determine if capital or funding is required to help the company or a certain department recover. Often, underperforming or nonessential departments may be receiving funding that could be useful elsewhere, so determine where funding can be used best to strengthen the company as a whole. Having strong leadership is key to coming out on the other side of the pandemic and its aftereffects successfully. This situation has taught the world that circumstances can change at any moment, so management must have many contingency plans to show that they have considered multiple scenarios and how to react to keep the company operational and its employees safe. Because of this, safety protocols must be reviewed and reconsidered. Employee health and facility safety is a priority, and measures should be created both for the world afterwards and a variety of potential situations that could arise. Most importantly, a company must consider the long-term effects of COVID-19. Eventually, the pandemic will end, but on the other side, what will the company look like, and what do you want the company to look like?
Industries as a whole will be reviewing their standards and practices as we approach 2021. The recovery period will be long for some and difficult for many, but planning for a variety of scenarios will be helpful for companies to know what the best course of action is. Not only will budgets be on people’s minds, but safety protocols and contingency plans will hang overhead. A successful company will reinspect every corner and see what works, what does not, and on the other side, these companies will find themselves in the best shape.