By Monica Eaton-Cardone
It’s hard to look past the overwhelming heartbreak and loss surrounding us during an ongoing, worldwide pandemic. But, as discussions continue regarding when to reopen the country, many are starting to see signs on the horizon of a return to a semblance of normalcy.
Businesses across the country have pivoted and readjusted their internal operations in response to the changing landscape. As some states and counties begin the arduous task of reopening, it’s important that we examine how COVID-19 impacted us, and what we can learn from the last few months.
With that in mind, here are six business lessons that we can learn from the COVID-19 pandemic.
1. Preparation is Key
You can’t prepare for every possible situation in the business world. However, a strong business continuity plan will mitigate the worst effects of a crisis. To be effective, that plan should be based around three key principles:
- Ensure your teams’ safety: In any crisis, whether natural or manmade, your employees should be the driving force behind your decisions. It’s your responsibility to ensure their safety and to provide them with the tools they need to thrive and succeed.
- Continuity of communication: One of the best ways to provide reassurance and convey critical information to your employees and customers is by consistent communication. You will need to ensure that your team is well-informed regarding company procedures and their job expectations.
- Maintain strict data security standards: In a situation where remaining in-office is no longer safe, your teams will need to transition to remote work. It’s important to think about the equipment they’ll need to perform their jobs. If sensitive information is being handled, laptops and VPNs will need to be distributed to ensure total security and compliance.
2. People Matter
When times get tough, we need to remember that we’re all human, and the way we treat one another will be remembered long after the crisis ends.
Going forward, it’s important that we show empathy and understanding to those around us. We can all learn to check in with each other and offer support, even virtually. There are numerous ways that your employees may be struggling, and you can start a dialogue regarding mental health.
The same level of care should be taken with your customers. Offer them support by communicating all changes and being available to talk through concerns or questions.
3. Watch Out for Fraudsters
While difficult situations can bring out the best in many people…it can also bring out the worst in others.
Unfortunately, there are criminals who will prey on people’s fears for their own profit. At a time when many of us are just trying to make it through another day, fraudsters will take advantage of the confusion and uncertainty.
The internet has made it possible for fraudsters to use fear and panic to manipulate people into giving up personal information and allowing access to private accounts. It’s important to remain vigilant. Maintain a strong line of communication with your customers and convey concerns regarding possible scams immediately.
For criminal fraud, it’s best to adopt a multilayer strategy. You can use tools like CVV verification, 3-D Secure, address verification, and geolocation together to try and verify customers with greater accuracy.
4. You Can’t Control Everything
Even the most well-planned business strategies can fail. COVID-19 has taught us that we are not always in control, and there will be times when we are completely powerless. We must learn to find balance and security within that uncomfortable reality.
We don’t have control over how long the pandemic will last or how long employees will work remotely. Try instead to focus your energy to change the things you can control.
Try to focus on smaller goals and priorities. For example, you can control your attitude, the way you treat others, and the level of passion and hard work you bring to the table every day. There will be inevitable setbacks and disappointments, but the way we react and persevere in the face of adversity will define us.
5. Support the Community
A national or global crisis provides a unique opportunity for your business. Whether you decide to help raise money for local charities, buy gift cards for restaurants and other small businesses, or produce much-needed medical equipment, there is always a way to support local businesses.
You’ve probably heard it said a hundred different times, in a hundred different ways, but the fact remains: we’re in this together. Supporting those in need promotes unity both in the community and within your own company. When we go through periods of suffering as a society, it’s our responsibility to help and serve those around us in whatever way we can.
6. Keep Moving Forward
It can sometimes seem like this situation will last forever. Remember, though, that it’s only temporary, and we will get through this. It’s important that we keep working, moving forward, and planning for the future. You need to think about the next steps for your business.
Consider the following:
- What assurances will your employees need in order to feel comfortable returning to the office?
- How will you address employees who are unwilling to return so soon?
- What areas of the company need improvement in order to better respond to future problems?
The impact of COVID-19 will likely be felt for months and perhaps even years to come. It will take everyone’s dedication and hard work for us to get back to the place we were before. But there are lessons to be learned through hardship, and it’s possible for us to walk away stronger and better equipped to face challenges in the future.