Although there has been plenty of debate regarding when to begin re-opening the country’s businesses, most agree it will begin to happen in stages within the next couple of weeks. Many businesses have struggled to stay afloat and to stay relevant during this difficult time. Those that will survive will be able to leverage their unique skills to enable themselves to take action and work as a team to improve upon the new ‘normal’ way of doing business. This includes updated processes and procedures, as well as rules and regulations put in place to keep employees safe.

So, what aspects of business are companies modifying that will improve their stature? It’s vital to retain your top talent and continue keeping your employees safe. The best way to bring your employees back into a physical space is to phase them in based on their role, starting with those who struggle to do their jobs properly without being present at the office. While guidelines for in-office work have not been solidified yet, pro-active businesses will have put their own safety measures in place. These will include making sure there is plenty of space between desks and cubicles, putting up signs to encourage handwashing, and limiting public bathroom usage to 1-2 people at a time. It may also be necessary to screen your employees each morning for illness before they enter the office. Keep in mind that some employees will be eager to return, but others will be fearful. Keep remote working opportunities open to those employees, if possible.

Business leaders have undoubtedly begun to recognize the dramatic reduction in overhead costs associated with remote work. We predict that some businesses will switch a portion of their staff to this status permanently, so it’ll be crucial as a leader in your industry to stay ahead of tech trends and tools that enhance work-from-home capabilities. Now that the initial scramble to make sure your employees are set up remotely has passed, focus on how to improve the process and begin tracking these trends and implementing new tools, if you haven’t already. It’ll be useful to set up trainings for your employees so they know the proper usage of new tools and processes. It’ll also be useful to create guidelines so employees know exactly what is expected of them while remote, i.e. schedule specifications, regular check-ins, etc.

Once you’ve ensured the safety and productivity of your employees, you’ll want to check in with your customers to let them know that you’re back up and running as well as to gauge how they’ve faired during the shut-down. They may need extra services or assistance of some kind from you. It may be useful to consider broadening your scope of services for them, even if just for a short time, so they know they can rely on you when times get tough.

After easing back into work at the office, it’s time to evaluate your operations. This is the perfect time to re-do your SWOT analysis. Here are some questions you can bring up to discuss with your leadership team:

  • Were any new weaknesses or strengths identified?
  • What new threats have you identified?
  • Were any new opportunities identified?

Times of uncertainty are a test for businesses – are you able to gather your leaders and think like a team to focus on coordinated and proactive steps to ensure your company survives? How can you modify your services and apply them in a new context, staying relevant to consumers? Keep these questions in mind as you navigate the ‘new normal’. Business has and will continue to change, and success depends upon your ability to stay ahead of the competition.