Since the COVID-19 outbreak, and more recently, the National Lockdown, the challenges faced by businesses are changing rapidly. Business, employers and employees throughout South Africa, are being forced to adapt to new ways of operating. At estome we have prepared this short checklist to help you navigate these volatile, challenging and unprecedented times. This checklist is adapted from standard crisis management guidelines for company stability and productivity during events that interrupt normal business operations and provides a set of guidelines best suited for the current situation.
1. Stay Informed
- Keep yourself updated about how and where the pandemic is evolving. With COVID-19, you must use the national resources and guidance that is available and updated regularly. You can use sacoronavirus.co.za. For other resources, we have included another link below.
- Use Government and Financial Institution provided resources. Here are some links to get you started
- Stay mindful of new legislation and changes coming into effect. You can view updates here: Latest Government Docs
2. Plan and strategize
- This includes addressing any immediate challenges faced by your workforce, customers and other stakeholders due to COVID-19
- Revisit your financial planning. Your plan should address short term cash management issues and broader resiliency issues during virus-related shutdowns and economic knock-on effects
- Various banks have announced that they will offer flexibility to their customers, and they may be able to provide payment-holidays or emergency working capital facilities. Talk to them about your needs and plans.
- Create detailed conditional and contingency plans for when normal operations resume. This should be to return the business to scale quickly as the COVID-19 situation evolves and knock-on effects become clearer. Be clear about how regulatory and competitive environments in your industry may shift.
3. Help and Train Staff
Some companies have already adopted a work from home policy, whilst others, don’t have anything for their staff to do during the lockdown.
- Take steps to help employees get access to resources they need to be productive including tutorials on the use of new technologies.
- Rather than let this tome go to waste, sign your staff up for courses that will help them, and in turn your business when we resume normal operations. Several resources offer short courses, webinars and podcasts on various subjects. If you are on a tight budget, you can find some free, yet high-quality resources online.
- Institute remote training for employees on all new skills needed and for any new systems and tasks required.
- Observe and be attentive to staff that are crucial to keeping your business operating. Keep lines of communication open and unfiltered with them Be clear about expectations, and resources available to them.
- Keep communication open to all staff, to answer questions and keep them informed. Something as simple as a WhatsApp group can achieve this, or you can have someone maintain a help desk or a designates staff communication portal.
- The business world is changing fast, so as part of adaption, consider pushing authority down as much as possible, to enable faster decision making. Also be available to step in to fix things in real-time, as needed.
- This is also an opportunity to get in touch with your clients, build better relationships with them and help them through this time of crisis. Helping now could mean having a loyal client in the times to come. Besides just being good business practice, this will also benefit your business.
5. Find opportunities
- Consumer behaviour is changing and is certain to continue changing as we get the COVID-19 epidemic under control. Considering that consumers will be experimenting more than ever with new solutions and offerings, look at how your company can leverage this. include it in your research and planning.
- Kantar.com suggests that omnichannel, online channels and delivery made significant inroads during the quarantine period in China. The loss of traffic put additional pressure on struggling brick-and-mortar retailers. But online versus offline is not the only factor involved. Safety has become more important, if not of primary importance. Consumers want outlets that can assure safety and health. Going forward, downscale outlets offering brands of ambiguous sourcing will be viewed with misgiving, which could hurt discounters and even Amazon, with accompanying pressure on brands to measure up to new demands for safety and cleanliness.
- Don’t be too quick to jump to layoffs. Strong, motivated talent will be needed to meet the challenges ahead effectively, and the recovery will arrive swiftly when control of the pandemic turns the corner.
- D2C. As consumers look to avoid public situations that expose them to health risks, direct-to-consumer platforms will become more popular. In a related vein, physical malls are likely to suffer as online malls become more sophisticated and experiential.
The views expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of estome. estome accepts no responsibility for the accuracy, completeness or fairness of the article, nor does the information contained herein constitute advice, legal or otherwise.