During and After COVID-19: How Large and Small Businesses Can Plan for the Long Term
From tackling teleworking for the first time to improving customer communications, the CEO of Bryghtpath shares what businesses can do to stay viable.
by Chris McGovern
Director of Research, Connected Nation
Shoreview, MN (April 8, 2020) - COVID-19 has presented challenges for businesses large and small, from figuring out how to protect their workers to keeping their business open amid a drastic hit to the economy. As even the most optimistic predictions anticipate months of hardship yet to come, businesses continue to fight to stay afloat.
To learn what steps businesses can take, Connected Nation spoke with Bryan Strawser, Principal and Chief Executive of Bryghtpath LLC,a strategic advisory firm that specializes in global risk, crisis management, business continuity, intelligence and global security strategies, and crisis communications.
According to Strawser, companies should be focusing on employee safety while ensuring that their
upstream suppliers are well-positioned to weather the storm and continue delivering services to the organization. He also recommends shifting to work-from-home strategies as much as possible and communicating regularly with staff to make that transition go smoothly.
“Unless your organization has teleworked regularly across all employee classifications, it can be a jarring transition to a new way of collaborating,” said Strawser.
Regular communication to employees about what is happening within the business and thanking them for their work during these extraordinary times can go a long way. Using technology like online videoconferencing software, cloud-based project management tools, persistent chat systems, document sharing, and online collaboration tools can also enable businesses to work remotely and still be productive.
Strawser said companies should prioritize communication with their customers, advising them of what they are doing to maintain continuity of services for them — changes to the business, such as reduced or modified hours, changes in services, and so on.
In the long-term, Strawser recommends that companies should be looking at their overall financial health and how that may change in the coming weeks and months as the economy slows down. He says companies should be asking themselves: “What risks exist that should be addressed? How might changes in direction from public health agencies and the government impact our business in the coming weeks and months? What should we do today to ensure we are positioned for success and long-term continuity in the coming weeks?”
Changes in technology should also be part of that long-term consideration.
“It's never too early to start thinking about what the ‘new normal’ will look like,” Strawser said. “How will your operating model change? Will teleworking be more accepted than it was before? What has changed within your business that you want to capture moving forward? How has technology enabled or hindered your work?”
Strawser stressed the need for regular communication with employees, suppliers, and customers. Establishing plans ahead of time for emergency situations can help organizations be ready to keep everyone informed.
“We [at Bryghtpath] have always been strong advocates for building a consistent crisis management framework, plans, and processes,” he explained. “Then the organization has a collaborative decision-making and communication framework that helps them lead through any situation. Your employees want and need to hear from leadership at your company about what's going on and how current events impact the business. Your customers need to know that you're leading a viable organization that will be around for them throughout the current crisis. Honest and authentic leadership and communication is strongly needed in every company right now.”
Strawser stresses that getting reliable facts is important and notes several reliable sources such as:
- CDC: Coronavirus (COVID-19) - Main Page
- CDC: Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses
- US Government: Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Page
- McKinsey & Company: Coronavirus: Leading through the Crisis
- Bryghtpath's Managing Uncertainty Podcast:
- Episode #94: Personal and family preparedness for Coronavirus
- Episode #95: Lessons learned to date from the Coronavirus fight
After the immediate crisis has passed, there will be time for reflection and revising company plans.
“Companies owe it to themselves to take a hard look at what they learned during this crisis,” Strawser said. “They must then apply those lessons to improve their resiliency and challenge assumptions about their current operating model.”
Click here to read the full Q&A with Strawser.