How to prepare your business for the end of Coronavirus

With all the difficulties being faced by businesses at the moment, it can be hard to look beyond the current crisis. Yet there will come a point in the near future where things return more or less to normal, and business starts to ramp back up. When that time comes, it will pay to be prepared - and to have an action plan that will help you get ahead.

While there can be no certainties about how the coronavirus will progress, there are things you can do to prepare your business for the end of coronavirus, and give yourself the best chance of a speedy recovery. Here are just a few ideas you should consider implementing in order to get back to where you were.

Cater to what people need

Depending on whether you’re primarily B2B or B2C, your business will be in a different position as the coronavirus pandemic winds down. Consumers may be looking to splurge on certain things to ‘let loose’, at least for a time. With budgets tight due to furloughing or unemployment, however, they may also tighten up in other areas. The same may be said for other businesses who will need to invest to gain a foothold but will also be reticent about unnecessary spending.

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Look to do what you would always have been doing - explain why your products are necessary and desirable - but try to find a unique angle that appeals to people’s sensibilities in a post-virus world. Anything outdoorsy and suited to summer for instance is likely to be popular as people stretch their legs. Holidays and the tourism trade might see a boom although we don’t yet know how a staggered return and fear of the virus may affect travel.

For businesses, you should look at adapting your services and pricing to deliver as much value as possible. Make them lean and cater to the things other businesses will absolutely need, stressing your role in helping them to recover and to generate new business. Don’t be afraid to lean into your existing relationships either and sound out former partners and contacts about how you can resume normal service - or at least something close to it.

Reinforce, don’t relaunch

Some businesses may see the coronavirus as an opportunity to relaunch products or services in an effort to recapture some interest and make a splash with consumers. While this may be appropriate in some circumstances - if you’d only recently launched them but the virus mitigated the impact, say - it could also be seen as cynical.

While people will expect you to do what’s necessary in order to regain your footing, you should look to rely more on the strengths which made you successful before the virus hit. If you don’t already have a brand voice document or a similar statement of your strengths, this may be a good time to compile one and hone in on the language that best represents your brand.

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You may be tempted to be bold and make a big play to get back on your feet quickly, but caution and conservatism is likely to win the day. Reiterate what you already know you do well and don’t try something new that you might not be good at.

Plan for a gradual restart

Most businesses will be raring to go as soon as it’s possible to work normally, and not without reason. Yet when the time does come to return to work, it’s likely that it will come with some restrictions. Every indication so far is that life will be slightly different for all of us until a vaccine is found to COVID-19 - which may be some months or years away yet - and businesses will have to adapt to this too.

This may initially involve some social distancing within your workplace, as well as the staggered return of staff. This will have to accommodate not just for the people who are currently recovering from the virus, but also those who remain susceptible and may still have to stay at home. You may find that you have to continue using home working technologies to bridge the gap between employees and the office - something which may be a new challenge.

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This scenario may be especially difficult for smaller businesses - or businesses in smaller premises - where it may be logistically impossible to keep people two metres apart at all times. In these circumstances, you may be required to reconsider your lease or other property arrangements and switch to full home working for an extended period of time. There may also be an opportunity to use other facilities temporarily such as an appropriate coworking space.

You may also have to start thinking about new hygiene controls to limit the spread (or resurgence) of the virus within your workplace. This may involve cleaning rotas or hiring cleaners and banning things such as eating at desks, as well as increased signage and supplies in bathrooms. If you don’t have one already, this may be the perfect moment to draft a health & safety policy to address these concerns and prepare for your return to physical premises.

Adopt what worked

While this has been a challenging period for everyone, there have undoubtedly been aspects of the quarantine that have been positive. Wildlife has been thriving in the presence of fewer cars and people and many people have been able to enjoy more time at home, eliminating their daily commutes and spending more time with their families.

For many businesses, this lockdown has been the first time they will have tried remote working. There have probably been a few stumbling blocks along the way - how many of you have been accidentally muted on a conference call or used an embarrassing avatar? - but for most, the lockdown has proven that remote working can be successful, even if it is still a stop-gap solution.

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It’s likely that many of your employees will have enjoyed the process of remote working and may want to see it continue in some fashion. Consider the benefits of this and look at any data you might have to see if they bear out your suspicions. It’s no use continuing to work from home if you feel that your workforce is less productive - but if it’s had a neutral or positive effect, the effect on people’s mental health and free time may be well worth the adjustment.

Provision for customers & clients

It’s pertinent to think about how your employees will be able to work safely, as they’re the core of any business. Customers are quite important too though, and depending on the nature of your enterprise, you may also have to make new provisions for them. Retail spaces will likely be limited to deliveries for some time yet and when they do return it’s likely that there will have to be limits on how many people are allowed in at one time.

Even if official advice doesn’t demand harsh limits on physical premises, it’s likely that people will be worried about traversing public spaces for some time. Normally crowded high streets may suffer the most, as any queues outside of buildings would quickly clash with one another. Even businesses who are predominantly B2C will have to think about how they meet and talk with people and whether travel and face-to-face talks are really necessary.

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The most important thing as the coronavirus ramps down is obviously to keep people safe but it will also be important to keep people comfortable. By taking stringent action on hygiene, delegating staff to control foot traffic and providing options for delivery or online services, you can help to reassure the first people back into your premises and still serve the people who would rather (or are required to) stay at home.

These are just a few general tips about how to approach your return to business after the coronavirus and the issues you may still have to overcome. While each business’ response will depend on their individual circumstances, it’s important to bear in mind that things will not get back to normal straight away. By taking sensible and pragmatic decisions today, you can start to put plans in place that will serve you well in the weeks ahead.

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