How Can Businesses Prepare for Life After COVID-19?

Life after COVID-19 will look different in many ways from the life we knew before COVID-19, and businesses must prepare for that reality as early as possible.

However, the current business landscape is fast-moving and uncertain.

Preparing for such a potentially volatile future may not be easy, but with the proper strategies, plans, and investments, businesses will be able to emerge stronger in the post-COVID era.

Proper preparation, however, is predicated on an understanding of how the crisis will unfold and what the “next normal” will look like.

What Will Life After COVID-19 Look Like?

The COVID-19 pandemic has fueled an extensive global recession that has swept the globe and impacted organizations in every industry.

However, the health crisis and its resulting recession are only the beginning, according to many research firms.

McKinsey, for example, asserts that the COVID-19 crisis will reshape the world in many ways:

  • Customers, employees, and citizens will have different expectations and needs
  • The competitive landscape will look very different
  • Governments and companies will play a different role in public health and the economy
  • Digital technology will become more crucial across the globe

Understanding these changes is the first step towards preparation for the next normal – but organizations should not wait until that time arrives before making changes.

The sooner business leaders pave a path towards the post-COVID era, the more successful they will be in the months and years ahead.

Below, we will look at a few strategies and tactics that can help companies survive and thrive during that time.

Tips and Strategies for Succeeding During the Next Normal

Here are several guidelines and agenda items that should be prioritized as we move forward:

1. Accelerate digital transformation efforts

Digital technology will become more important than ever in the post-COVID economy.

Though IT spending has decreased overall, investment in digital transformation remains strong. 

In fact, some organizations are massively accelerating their digital transformation programs. Accenture, for instance, is compacting several years of digital transformation plans into just a few months.

There are good reasons for this:

  • A number of technologies and digital trends are growing, such as telemedicine and automation
  • Digital technology improves efficiency and organizational performance in many areas
  • Technology allows employees to work remotely

During the pandemic, trends such as these will become more prominent and more important in the coming months and years. 

The more these trends continue to develop, the greater the impact they will have on the post-viral economy.

To stay ahead, business leaders should pay close attention to how the digital economy is evolving in the coming years.

2. Focus on resilience over efficiency

Many organizations often focus on the need for efficiency when designing business processes and strategies.

However, the current business climate is uncertain and volatile – what works today may become obsolete tomorrow.

A supply chain disruption, for instance, could easily damage an organization’s ability to deliver goods and services to its customers.

Likewise, a cluster of infections could spur further government restrictions, which could, in turn, disrupt business operations.

To mitigate such risks, businesses should build resilience into their business as well as their supply chain.

3. Prepare the workforce for an evolved workplace

The future of work will look the same as many of us expected – more automation, AI, digital technology, and the need for more digital skills.

However, the pandemic has shifted many of these trends forward in time.

Work life after COVID-19 will be characterized by:

  • An increased need for a digitally savvy workforce
  • More reliance on automation technologies
  • A greater use of robotics in many areas of life
  • Workforces that are comprised of more contingent workers and remote workers
  • Increased concern over health and safety

Though the workplace will not transform from the ground up, we can certainly expect a number of such changes to take place, which is why businesses should prepare early.

4. Build agility into the organization and the supply chain

Since change will be a constant in the post-COVID economy, organizations must be prepared to face disruption. 

Business leaders should therefore build agility into their processes, strategies, and even the organizational culture.

Though agile began in software development, it has since spread to a wide number of other areas, from manufacturing to change management.

This business approach:

  • Prioritizes working solutions over documentation or static processes
  • Responds to real-world conditions in real-time, rather than adhering to predetermined plans
  • Improves costs, business process efficiency, response times, the customer experience, and much more

For many organizations, becoming agile may require a major organizational change. 

Though such changes may be challenging, the investment will improve companies’ ability to survive and thrive during the next normal.

5. Stay focused on the human experience

Technology and technological advancement should be prioritized, as mentioned earlier.

The human experience, however, will remain as important as ever.

Many business leaders understand the importance of creating great customer experiences, which can:

  • Improve customer engagement and satisfaction
  • Enhance the brand’s reputation
  • Increase bottom-line profits

The employee experience, however, is equally important, since a good workplace experience can:

  • Improve employee productivity, engagement, and performance
  • Decrease turnover while increasing loyalty and longevity
  • Lower negative metrics, such as job-related frustration
  • Enhance employer branding

Since people’s needs and expectations will evolve rapidly in the months and years ahead, businesses will need to closely monitor customer and employee sentiment.

By prioritizing and carefully tracking that sentiment, businesses will be able to deliver experiences that are more relevant and, ultimately, more profitable.

Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.