This article is a guest post.
The current economic and societal climate can feel overwhelming but take a closer look and you might just find a silver lining for your business. Coronavirus backed us all against the wall. We had to think beyond our traditional confines to reflect, innovate, and survive.
While crises are a shock to the system, we know that rebuilding is possible, provided care and strategic planning is applied. When businesses are faced with difficult situations, it prompts new and creative solutions, and most importantly builds resilience.
This same premise applies on an individual level too. New research from the ADP Research Institute has found those who have had a close personal experience with the virus, such as falling ill themselves or having a close family member or friend receive a positive diagnosis, are 3.8 times likely to rank themselves as highly resilient, compared to those who have not been directly hit by COVID-19.
Over the past year, SMEs and large companies alike have pivoted in response to the many and various curve balls coronavirus threw our way; sustained or repeated lockdowns, wage subsidy programs, and restricted supply chains to name but a few.
Businesses have found new ways to create revenue streams, and the digitisation of manual practices created new and productive ways of delivering products and services while keeping COVID-safe. For example, traditional brick-and-mortar companies moved online for the first time. Even those businesses that already had online options available pre-pandemic went one step further, introducing or accelerating shop front pickup programs, allowing customers to get goods and services more quickly than if they had waited for “normal” delivery through online shopping (the previous revolution in the world of retail).
Coronavirus shone a spotlight on where previous work models that were becoming redundant thanks to new technologies, and opened the door to more opportunities for growth. Instead of trying to fit old solutions into a new environment, companies needed to think out of the box and innovate.
The businesses that survive and grow during times of hardship have a different perspective than those that don’t. The organisations most geared for success are those that can envision themselves as different organisations from what they were in the past. They have the flexibility and foresight to adapt.
For example, across all industries and businesses of all sizes, speedy decisions were required last year – with short notice and requiring near immediate implementation, to keep their business afloat and employees safe.
A case in point; employees were asked to work from home with little notice. However, many organisations did not have the infrastructure or technology in place to enable this. So how did businesses solve the request?
In those early and abrupt days of lockdown, many employees were asked to use their personal devices to connect remotely and the necessary business tools and applications were deployed to those devices via the internet. This was by no means the long-term solution, but the initial ingenuity and creative thinking allowed these organisations to remain productive in those early and unprecedented days of the mass migration to working from home. Having overcome the first obstacle with resilience, these businesses were able to weather the initial storm.
Instead of taking a breath once the questions of when and how to open are answered, successful businesses ask the next question: Once we’re open, how do we stay open?
How, for example, can businesses prepare for the ever-changing regulations and evolving employee concerns? Remain on the front foot and stay ever curious about next steps. Complacency is the undoing of many businesses. Asking the next question may seem like a simple step, but equally it can be the most daring to do.
That said, keep it all in perspective. Worrying about paying rent, managing supply chains or facing a total shutdown are, and remain, top priorities. But try to allow yourself to think beyond today and reframe your thought process. As the events of the day, week or month ease, businesses tend to immediately focus on recovery but spend little time preparing for the next predicament.
To survive and evolve, all organisations should take a step back and take time to pause and reflect on the situation. Ask yourself: What worked well? What went wrong? What should be done next time? Do we have the right technology to help the business sustain and meet employee needs? Is our business model adaptable? For multinational companies, do we have the right balance between central governance and oversight and local empowerment for decision making?
The answers to these questions can help identify what needs attention, so now is the time for business leaders to reflect while it is fresh in their minds and put an action plan of best practices in place.
The way you see your business success is bound to change over time. Don’t let the overwhelming circumstances of today get in the way of your resilience and innovation. Right now, you have the opportunity to rethink your approach and dream of innovations that may spark greater prosperity in the days to come.
Peter Hadley leads a team of around 1,750 associates in Australia, China, Hong Kong, India, Japan, Singapore and the Philippines, and is responsible for ADP’s growth strategies and operational excellence across Asia Pacific. He joined ADP in 2002 and has worked in several senior finance roles with the organisation. Previous experience includes management and consulting positions at major accounting firms, including KPMG. Peter is also a qualified Chartered Accountant with the Institute of Chartered Accountants in Australia.
Connect with Peter on LinkedIn.
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