Operations
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5 Methods to Improve Business Operations during COVID19

5 Actionable Methods to Improve Business Operations during COVID19 Crisis

As workforces go remote, businesses struggle to persevere with day-to-day operations. We explore five actionable methods to improve business operations during the COVID-19 crisis.

On March 19th, Ryan browsed through the news app for quick updates on the pandemic situation.

The moment he read the headline, his mind went spiraling. The governor had announced a 'stay at home' order across the state from midnight to prevent the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Questions, worries, and panic clouded his thoughts. How will his business operate without office infrastructure? Was his team equipped to work from home? How will they deliver the same output without coming in to work every day?

It was a lot to handle before his morning coffee. After all, it was alarming news for a startup founder in the tech space with a team of fewer than 20 employees. 

Ryan had just stepped down from his very successful job as VP of engineering eight months ago to build his dream venture in the tech space. 

Things were going well, he had signed up 5 new clients in a quarter and was expecting a series funding from a VC, with plans to expand the team and operations. 

But after the news, he figured things were about to change. All he could think of was how he would retain the productivity of his employees, and ensure his business operations continued without being disrupted.

He always thought of remote work as a perk but was never a believer. He believed that teams are more productive, collaborative, and attentive when they work out of an office environment. Now he had no choice, he had to think of plan B. 

And that is what he did. 

Instead of losing his mind over when things would get back to normal, he thought of ways to pivot his business operations and strategies and adapt to the new normal, just like every other business around the world.

Today, Ryan's team has managed not only to continue with their normal business operations but to improve them with more productivity and collaboration. 

What Ryan did to change the course of his business amid these difficult times was not a 7-step innovative approach taken out of the latest New York Times best-seller in the business and management genre. 

It was a creative approach to traditional business management practices that became a survival guide for business productivity and operations.

In this article, we will summarize this approach into 5 ways that will help you improve your business operations during the COVID-19 crisis. 

5 Actionable Methods to Improve Business Operations during COVID19 Crisis

 

As the pandemic struck, you, just like many other business leaders, probably scrambled to safeguard your revenue streams and control your expenses. And while that was a smart move, what needed more attention and time was to safeguard your business operations. 

This required immediate and thoughtful changes to your business strategy, processes, and your leadership approach.  

While many have managed to continue their operations with this unusual yet opportunistic situation, some are still trying to find their feet. 

To help you and many others to survive and thrive their business through these unprecedented times, we have cumulated 5 actionable ways in which you can improve your business operations during the COVID crisis. Let us see what those are.

1. Embrace Technology, Invest in Collaboration 


In the 21st century, you rarely find a business that does not leverage technology to streamline, optimize, and even execute business operations. From HR to sales and production to inventory, technology is everywhere. Your team uses software to communicate with vendors, analyze production processes, make sales, and apply for vacation days. 

And while you are on the right track, the pandemic requires you to accelerate your journey towards digital transformation. This entails going beyond your current technology transition and digitizing your processes for better communication, collaboration, and performance.

As teams go remote, business operations are bound to go disarray. In this chaos, technology comes as a blessing that helps businesses operate better. 

Here are a few tips to enhance your technology systems and improve your operations in the pandemic:

  • Invest in a secure, robust, and convenient cloud service
    Cloud services simplify your data storage and make data easily accessible to your teams. As your team works remotely, investing in a secure cloud service ensures they have easy access to data wherever and whenever required.

    Cloud services are platform-agnostic and secure systems. Some examples of widely used cloud suites are G Suite, OneDrive, Dropbox, and Apple iCloud.
  • Use collaboration tools
    There has never been a better time to invest in a collaboration tool. Collaboration tools help you streamline your business processes and operations and optimize collaboration, communication, and performance. With robust functionalities like project creation and management, messaging, storage capacity, and calendar reminders, these tools help you reduce the clutter in your processes, projects, and tasks.

    Employees working from home can keep track of their assigned tasks and collaborate with other team members. It is a simple solution to implement accountability within your team, which is a primary concern for business leaders during this difficult situation. Some commonly used collaboration tools are Trello, Slack, Asana, Google Chat, and Microsoft Teams. 
  • Secure Your IT systems
    As teams work from home, data threats linger around your IT infrastructure with access requests to your data stored on the cloud coming from distributed locations. Make sure you invest time and effort in checking the hygiene of your IT security systems and make them resilient to modern data threats. Partnering with a company like F1 Information Technology may be worth the investment to gain peace of mind in your security infrastructure.2.

 

2. Document and Share, Don't Just Assume


Remote work is a massive shift in the way businesses operate. It has impacted every single aspect of your business, from operations and procedures to communication and data storage. 

Every process in your business is changing the way it operates, and you need to document these changes to make sure that everyone associated with the process is aware of the new process guidelines. 

Let us take an example of the onboarding process of a new employee. At the beginning of lockdown, you were anxious about getting back to normal business. But after a couple of weeks, you realized that things won't be changing anytime soon. As your business continues to operate in news ways, your hiring must go on as well. 

For normal days, you have a detailed outline of the employee onboarding process that includes an introduction to company policies, team members, project allocation, and access to company tools. And while the purpose remains the same, the methods change. 

The onboarding process will now include zoom meetings for team introductions, google forms for documentation, and tutorials for software tools and project guidelines. 

Documenting the updated guidelines for new processes is an absolute no-brainer. This will eradicate assumptions, disparities, and confusion within your teams and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Sharing the newly documented processes is also an important step to make sure your team is aware and accountable for new processes. Make sure you store the new process documents in a way that it is easily accessible to all your employees. 

Understand everything you need to know about Business Process Documentation in this detailed article.

3. Empathize - Offer Help, Be Accessible 


'Change is hard at first, messy in the middle and gorgeous at the end.' - Robin Sharma

The pandemic has created a wave of uncertainties, fears, and anxieties among the people around the world. It has demanded a whirlwind of change not only in the professional lives but also in the personal lives of your employees. And your empathy as a leader is of utmost importance in this crisis. 

As your employees work from home, they face the inevitable challenges that are bound to occur while trying their best to be productive. This is the time for you to become more accessible to your employees - understand their challenges and help them wherever possible. This is an important step to maintain the productivity and deliverability of your operations.

Here are a few ways in which you can offer solutions to the challenges your employees face:

  • Offer solutions to technical challenges
    One of the most common challenges that professionals working remotely face is technical issues such as internet issues, power failures, and hardware problems.

    Instead of getting frustrated, you as an employer must offer solutions to these challenges. Make sure you provide the right hardware repair solutions to your employees. If possible, add allowances to cover charges for better internet connections and power backups to your employees.
  • Provide moral support
    Encourage your employees to keep their mental health in check. As the world goes through this paradigm shift, it is natural for them to develop feelings of anxiety and fear. This is bound to affect their productivity and performance.

    To help them deal with these feelings and ensure optimal performance, you can offer solutions such as mental health awareness sessions, virtual hangout sessions, and fun contests to keep them engaged. 
  • Become more accessible
    It always feels good to know that someone is there for you, especially in a crisis situation. And that is exactly what you should do.

    Let your team know that your company is there for them, and they can reach out in case of any issues that you can help them with. And you will never know how you can help unless you ask. Run a campaign through your HR to reach out to your employees and understand their challenges. If possible, offer solutions to them and make them feel secure.

4. Don't Fuss, Pivot! 


The incidents of the last few months were not on the radar of any business. Every business strategy, annual plan, goal, roadmap, and budget was put to the test with the sudden change in global circumstances.

While it is easy to mourn and fuss over the things that never happened, a resilient business knows how to pivot, survive, and thrive!

Pivoting requires you to reorganize your business goals, strategies, plans, and processes in light of the circumstances, that is, the changing needs of your customers, the reshaping of your organizational operations, and working mode.

Let us take an example of Uncle Bobbie's Coffee & Books, a bookstore and coffee shop located in Philadelphia. The coffee shop was created to provide underserved communities with access to books and space where everyone feels valued. The business completely depended upon the experience it offered to its customers. 

But when things changed, the coffee store pivoted its strategy and vision. It is now selling physical books online and selling audiobooks. It is also hosting Zoom happy hours, wellness talks, and virtual events with authors. 

This is a perfect example of how to pivot your strategy to survive. It is Charles Darwin's evolution theory put into perspective - 'it is not the strongest of the species that survives, it is the one that is the most adaptable to change.'

5. Encourage Overcommunication 


Overcommuncation was once considered as a bad management practice by business leaders accounting for over-flooded inboxes and never-ending meetings. But in times like this, overcommunication serves us for the better.

Remote workforces need constant reminders for optimal communication and collaboration. Even if that means repeating the message over and over again until the work gets done.

There is never going to be a time when everyone on the team is attentive and in the same state-of-mind at one time. This is why overcommunication becomes even more necessary in remote work.

Encourage teams to over communicate project ideas, deliveries, and of course the importance of communicating! This ensures there is minimal or no occurrence of dropping the ball - everyone is aware and accountable for their work. 

Overcommunication can sometimes lead to frustration and deluded perceptions. But when you emphasize enough on the importance of practicing overcommunication, you minimize the gap between reality and perception.

Conclusion

To summarize these tips, leverage technology and practice documentation, empathy, adaptability, and overcommunication to ensure optimum performance of your business operations in this pandemic situation. Make these the pillars of your remote workforce processes, and the rest will be taken care of!

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