Coronavirus has forced businesses to adapt to any number of challenges.
They’ve had to figure out the whole remote working thing, reassure customers and employees, and generally keep everything running in a radically different environment.
But don’t assume that everything will instantly go back to normal as we slowly emerge from the pandemic, because the post-covid world will present its own headaches to businesses. Consumer attitudes have changed, perhaps forever, and employees have radically different expectations of how their working lives should look.
With that in mind, here are seven practical tips to help you thrive when coronavirus finally becomes a thing of the past.
1. Take Steps to Avert a Talent Drain
To a greater or lesser extent, workers have tended to stick with their employers through the pandemic.
With all the uncertainty that’s existed over the past year-and-a-half, the last thing they wanted was to cause even more stress by switching to a new role. Getting up to speed with a new job is never easy, but doing it without being able to visit the office is another kettle of fish entirely.
However, all that looks set to change as the world opens up once again.
Indeed, research from Prudential claims 26% of US employees plan to look for a new job when the threat of the pandemic lessens, while a separate study from Microsoft warns that more than 40% of the global workforce are considering leaving their employer in 2021.
That means there could be a tidal wave of attrition heading your way.
To stave off that metaphorical wave before it crashes over your business, you need to go the extra mile to retain your top performers before they start looking elsewhere.
Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can do this.
Recognize employees for delivering strong results or demonstrating behaviors that align with your core values.
Take things a step further and reward those behaviors and results by offering incentives like free coupons or additional annual leave.
And be sure to highlight the efforts you made to help employees throughout the pandemic. If you avoided redundancies, provided mental health support, and ran team-building exercises to give everyone a welcome break from all that isolation, don’t be afraid to shout about it.
2. Make a Plan for Hybrid Working
In a similar vein, businesses that successfully adapt to the new world of hybrid working will be best placed to retain (and attract) talent.
It’s hard to overstate the importance of this issue. An astonishing 97% of people who are currently working from home would prefer to keep doing so some of the time, with 88% of those favoring a 50:50 hybrid model.
In other words, you definitely shouldn’t force everyone to come back to the office full-time.
Unsurprisingly, business leaders are well aware of this. Research from McKinsey shows that four in five C-level executives anticipate a near-future in which employees spend between 21% and 80% of their working time in the office, with the rest of their work done remotely. In contrast, just 10% expect employees to be in the office for more than 80% of their time.
However, just because leaders are aware of the hybrid trend, that doesn’t mean they’re prepared for it. McKinsey’s research, conducted in December 2020 and January 2021, also found that more than two-thirds of organizations hadn’t drawn up or communicated a detailed plan for hybrid working, with 4% admitting they hadn’t even started thinking about it!
Your hybrid working plan doesn’t need to be perfect at this stage, but it needs to exist, and you need to cascade it to your employees as quickly as possible.
As well as dealing with practical issues like how many days people need to spend in the office, it should consider more abstract matters, like the types of work that are best carried out remotely and in person.
3. Start Monetizing Your Website
In a challenging business climate, it pays to extract the highest possible value from every single asset you own.
So let’s talk about one of your biggest assets: your website. You invest a bunch of time and money into it. You likely already rely on it to generate sales or leads (or both). But did you know it could also be a source of standalone revenue?
That’s right: if you’re already generating decent levels of traffic––say, 100,000 visitors a month or more––you could be sitting on a goldmine. By partnering up with a monetization platform like Setupad, you can earn real money by running programmatic ads on your website.
It’s a totally passive source of additional income.
4. Keep Hold of Your Existing Customers
You owe a debt of gratitude to all the customers who stuck with you throughout the pandemic. Without them, you wouldn’t have a business right now.
But we can safely assume there’s going to be a lot of market disruption as the world reopens, with new competitors arriving and customers increasingly open to shopping around.
So in the same way you should be taking steps to retain your top-performing talent, you need to cement relationships with your existing customers to persuade them to stick with you for the long run.
If you haven’t already invested in a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, now’s the time to do it, because the benefits are substantial. Just check out these stats:
- 74% of CRM adopters found that the software gave them improved access to customer data, according to Software Advice.
- Research from Capterra revealed that 47% of users believe CRM systems have a significant positive impact on customer satisfaction and retention.
CRM software removes roadblocks from your communications and helps you make better use of customer data, allowing you to deliver a more personalized approach. And that’s definitely good for your customer relationships.
5. Cut Down on ‘Busy Work’
Think that as the world returns to some kind of normality, you can afford to relax and loosen the purse strings?
The pandemic has had a huge impact on spending habits. For instance, 77% of US consumers now spend less ongoing to restaurants, cinemas, pubs, and bars than they did before the arrival of COVID-19, while 69% have cut their spending on services, according to a Statista survey.
At this time, we simply don’t know if those spending levels will ever return to normal levels. That means you need to focus on your efficiency by cutting out time-consuming and labor-intensive “busy work”.
For instance, let’s say your business manages a lot of contracts. A multinational organization like Deliveroo can handle thousands of contracts a month, and even much smaller businesses might still have dozens of contracts to manage.
Inefficient manual contracting eats up huge amounts of bandwidth, with the IACCM claiming that 92% of time spent managing contracts goes on process. Contract management software automates a huge amount of that process, saving you a bunch of time and money.
That’s only one niche example. From managing projects to booking appointments and sending invoices, there are any number of similar automations you can use to drive efficiencies across your business.
6. Level Up Your Workforce Productivity
Unsurprisingly, a lot of businesses worried that the switch to remote working would hit productivity hard. Yet the evidence seems to refute this, with one survey finding 66% of employees actually believe they work more productively from home.
However, you can’t afford to take your eye off the ball on productivity as the pandemic recedes.
Previous research from GetVoip found that 80% of employees admit to wasting time while they’re “on the clock”, with almost one in five wasting three or more hours during an average working day. From checking social media to attending unnecessary meetings, it turns out there are a whole lot of potential workplace time wasters out there.
Fortunately, there are also lots of steps you can take to improve focus and boost productivity, such as:
- Using time-tracking software
- Encouraging employees to schedule time for deep work
- Prompting your team to only check and respond to emails at certain times
- Creating a noise-free office environment that aids concentration
- Cutting down on multitasking
7. Double Down on Your Marketing Efforts
Faced with unprecedented budgetary pressure throughout the pandemic, businesses found themselves desperately looking around for ways to reduce costs.
Often, their eyes fell on the marketing department. Indeed, new research from Gartner shows marketing budgets have dropped to just 6.4% of total company revenue in 2021, down from 11% in 2020.
But if abandoning your marketing spend during a pandemic is a bad idea, failing to restore budgets to previous levels in a post-COVID world is an even worse one.
Simply put, the longer you restrain your marketing team by limiting their budget, the harder it’ll be for you to recover lost ground. Your SEO rankings will drop; your brand awareness will plummet; your email and SMS marketing databases will become irrelevant and outdated.
In isolation, you might not think any of those issues is a disaster. But combined, they’ll hurt your sales and reduce your revenue. That’s the last thing you need having made it through a pandemic.