Business Lessons Learned During COVID-19
Published April 24, 2020
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted our collective daily lives and changed business as we know it. While all organizations have been impacted in different ways and are in different phases of managing the crisis, the one thing that’s certain is that the changes taking place today will be long lasting.
During this challenging time, the team leaders at People 2.0 have taken a few moments to share the toughest business lessons they’ve learned so far since the outbreak.
The importance of collaboration, both within teams and cross functionally, has been validated during our business continuity process. It’s easy to create a model of what should happen during business continuity plan (BCP) building; however, until the model is challenged with real-world scenarios, it’s virtually impossible to expose the flaws in the model.
Through daily meetings with our BCP swat team, we evolved our plan and were able to factor in things such as home office space set-up, home internet speed, meeting cadence with homeschooling, and how we would deal with simple things like mail/package pick-up, to name a few. By keeping employee safety and impeccable customer service as our guiding principles, we effectively collaborated to ensure we would be successful during this extremely stressful time.
VP of HR
During any time of uncertainty, one of the first places employees look to for support is the HR department. For me, the human impacts of the crisis have been the most crucial element of our business continuity plan over the past month.
How we communicate and how we show compassion is making all the difference for our employees, clients, and partners. For communication, we’ve learned that not having all the answers is okay; employees and clients want to hear that we’re aware and working on specific answers to their questions.
With our communications comes our ability to reinforce compassion and thoughtfulness as a top priority. Leading with compassion in everything we do throughout the pandemic has been a critical component of our business continuity plan and has helped to keep our teams motivated and engaged.
Being perfect can be the enemy of what is possible. Every corporate continuity plan is imperfect. You have to get used to surviving with a little bit of a mess.
Major interruptions tend to last longer than imagined. Business interruptions, especially chaotic ones like the one we are living through right now, are exhausting, and pacing yourself with a good attitude is essential.
Goodwill and humor are an essential commodity.
During times of unprecedented uncertainty, the focus on business continuity becomes essential. Recent events have proven that nothing can be taken for granted and that business processes and procedures should be mapped out and tested across all facets of the organization on a regular basis—especially during a company-wide remote working scenario.
Ensuring that our clients feel supported, listened to, and cared for at all times is key, and that can’t be achieved without consistent, thoughtful communication.
Having a strong, motivated management team in place is always critical to business success, none more so than during times of crisis. We rely on the fantastic team we have built over the last several years.
Companies and human beings adapt to the most complex and challenging conditions, and this occasion is no different. Internally, we have found ways to communicate, thrive and even enjoy our work in ways that I wouldn’t have previously thought possible. To me, this means one thing—we will come out of this crisis stronger, meaner, and more confident.
VP of Marketing
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, I realized that one of the lessons I learned early in my marketing career has become more important than ever. The lesson being that when you’re speaking to an audience (via any communication channel), the focus should not be on you or your product. It’s never about you. It’s about helping people solve their most challenging—and in this case unexpected—business problems. Some days, that might mean just being a sounding board for new ideas or connecting people with resources they need to help them through a scary and disruptive time.
Ultimately, putting your focus in the right place is the only real way to establish trust and loyalty.
VP of Recruiter Services
What I learned about business continuity is it’s not for the faint of heart. It takes commitment and a like-minded approach to execute. It takes skills to communicate and get the support needed to continue to successfully service clients—internally and externally—while ensuring the team and company survive and thrive.
We have undergone a massive transition in a short period of time in the way we work and communicate. As a leader, I’ve had to adjust my management and communication style amid the chaos that can come from uncertainty and change. However, despite the previous sentence, I am reminded that I have a great team that is adjusting and pulling together like never before. We will continue to move forward, adjusting as needed, and maintaining focus on our brand’s purpose: enhance every life our business touches!
During these difficult times, I’ve realized that team members have been finding solutions more effectively than when we are under normal conditions. It appears analysis-paralysis has diminished during this crisis. Everyone is more open to how we can come up with a solution as opposed to focusing on why something won’t work.
All leaders should be open and consistent in verbal communication with their teams. This could mean sending fewer emails or having more direct phone calls with team members and customers. Don’t be afraid that you might not have all the answers. Instead, just be there to listen effectively.
VP of IT
The biggest business lesson I’ve learned so far during this pandemic has been the realization that an active-active set-up (rather than an active-failover set-up) is the better strategy when planning and implementing business continuity (BC) and disaster recovery (DR). What I mean is that you should consider implementing technologies that are always available, active, and used in daily operations, especially for business-critical processes.
An older mode of thinking is that if you have your business-critical data backed up or maintained in an offsite but offline system you’re in good shape. My experience is that today’s technology landscape changes too quickly, and those older BC/DR strategies can’t keep up and simply take too long to bring online. They may be better suited for more of a catastrophic disaster than the business continuity scenarios that we more commonly see.
Cloud products and technologies have helped us become more agile and capable of responding quickly to events. Some of these technologies, for example, are VOIP phone systems, Microsoft Office 365, Azure, and cloud file sync services.
Chief Strategy and Global Business Development Officer
Even the most well-thought-out and tested business continuity plans need to be adapted during times of unprecedented crisis and continuous change. The rapid nature of the onset of the pandemic has taught us several key lessons as we transitioned to a new way of working. At People 2.0, we kept focused on the health and safety of our workforce, all while keeping business operating as usual.
The ability to deal with unforeseen situations and adapt quickly has become a new skill that we have all had to learn. Communicating with your teams frequently to provide support as well as receive support expedites the learning curve and helps everyone get settled into a new normal rhythm of work.
Working as a team, playing your part, and focusing on what you can control allows for efficiency and reduces the feeling of being overwhelmed by the chaos of the circumstance.
Further, taking an empathetic and consultative approach in working with customers helps build a sense of community and partnership that will be long lasting.
VP of Risk Management
Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP)
Having helped organizations develop business resiliency and continuity strategies for many years, the first step to take in risk management is to overcome two critical “roadblocks.”
The first one is the classic “This (or that) won’t happen to me.” I’ve had variations of that sentence uttered to me thousands of times. The second impediment is “I can figure it out if it happens.”
Getting past those misconceptions can be difficult. Often, it takes a seminal event—like the one we are experiencing now—to change the mindset around the first roadblock about the need for continuity planning. The counter to the second argument is a simple one: “OK, but what if you aren’t around? Shouldn’t the plans be memorialized so that someone else can carry the baton if needed?” Once you get past those issues, the real work begins…
Click to read more from Art Boyle, People 2.0’s VP of Risk and a Certified Business Continuity Professional (CBCP).