How the COVID-19 Coronavirus has changed the way we will do business
As businesses navigate through the COVID-19 Coronavirus pandemic and attempt to chart their course forward, there is a considerable amount of uncertainty. Will we go ‘back’ to normal or is
‘this’ the new normal.
All indications are that the way we operate our businesses has permanently changed. Certainly, from the perspective of where employees will be located, we appear to be in a new age. Twitter (NYSE: TWTR) announced to its employees that they can work remotely – indefinitely. Shopify (NYSE: SHOP) announced going forward it is “… a digital by default company”, even going so far as to offer employees $1000 to set up a home office, Facebook (NYSE:FB) has announced that it expects 50% of its employees to be working remotely within the next 5 – 10 years.
These are not anomalies. A study by Gartner found that about 74 percent of the CFOs they surveyed, expect some of their employees who were forced to work from home because of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to continue working remotely after it ends.
Have we really shifted to a remote work force, or simply realized that employees can remain connected and productive from any location? A 2-Year Stanford Study found a remarkable productivity boost of working from home. One reason why so many businesses are warming up to the idea is a growing body of evidence to support this move.
With the changing dynamic of how we engage and interact with our stakeholder groups, fellow employees, suppliers, customers; it becomes increasingly important to have systems in place that enable us to be effective regardless where any of us are physically located.
As businesses work through the changed environment, there is an immediate need to examine and ultimately refine the approach we use to connect our multiple channels and fuse them into one. Businesses urgently need to develop better ways to provide customers with a seamless and consistent experience, regardless of whether they shop in a bricks and mortar store, by the telephone, on a website, or on a mobile app.
One of the most effective ways to proactively manage through the changing landscape and ensure employees are positioned to support customers is by examining how stakeholders will connect with the business. We can do this by creating an omnichannel journey map that includes each of our stakeholder groups: employees, customers, suppliers, and the communities impacted by our business.
Identify each omnichannel touchpoint, from product ideation to aftersales support.
Examine how business was conducted before, and how you intend for it to be conducted going forward.
Engage and involve stakeholders in your research to capture their voice using both quantitative and qualitative data to measure important variables and guide your work. Pivot and adjust where needed or move forward if appropriate.
Test or pilot any important changes by selecting an implementation approach that makes sense for your business. Running parallel systems might work in some situations, but not in others. A sudden switch can be catastrophic if the new process fails and there is no redundancy built in.
Communications and transparency on how stakeholders will be impacted will be critical throughout. You do not want to surprise important stakeholders, nor do you want to create unrealistic expectations and risk disappointing them.
Ensure your new process has a control plan that allows you to monitor its performance. It will be based on those aspects that tell you how well critical touchpoints are performing (or not) and assign accountability to the appropriate people. Include a stakeholder feedback loop enabling you to continually improve the process. Cutting edge today is old news tomorrow.
Good intentions alone do not constitute a plan of action. Change happens whether we are ready for it or not. The key to success will be to actively embrace the future and prepare for it. Those who are proactive, have an opportunity to design and implement systems that propel them into the future where they will emerge in many ways stronger than when they entered the current pandemic. Those who take a ‘wait and see’ approach, do so at their own peril.
Bio: Mark Fitzsimmons
Mark is president of 360 degrees Management Consultants. Through his 20+ year career in private practice working with businesses ranging from startups to Fortune 500 companies, Mark has extensive experience creating value through improvements to operations, quality, marketing, and customer experience strategies.