The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to completely transform our way of working. One month in, businesses have radically adapted to working from home, adjusted operating models, and introduced new products and services to combat the financial impact of the pandemic. These will likely stay in place in some shape or form for the next three to six months, if not longer.

It’s challenging to imagine a post-COVID-19 world right now, though some countries and cities are beginning to steadily reopen under the guidance of their governments and health authorities. But just as businesses have had to adapt to the changes, it’s also essential to have a robust coordinated, strategic plan for the post-lockdown world.

We’ve compiled a list of the key challenges and considerations for businesses to keep in mind when preparing your lockdown exit strategy.

How to realign your systems and operations

According to a survey by Accenture, only 10% of organisations have cracked the code on systems resilience. For many, COVID-19 revealed massive gaps in crisis management and response, cybersecurity, and service continuity. It also demonstrated the value of harnessing technology to create a robust, asset-light model that allows for elasticity and flexibility in the event of disruption.

Once we emerge on the other side and begin to return to the physical workplace, it will be important to apply these learnings into a long-term strategy for systems and talent resilience. Evaluate your company’s existing gaps, and use these to create a roadmap for transformation.

Some key considerations may include:

  • Addressing antiquated applications, architecture and infrastructure, and replacing these with cloud solutions
  • Revisiting highly manual processes and seeking opportunities for automation
  • Funding cyber resilience through investment in cybersecurity and cloud infrastructure

Integrating and adapting business models

In the wake of the pandemic, businesses of all sizes have been required to rethink and reimagine their products and services, and introduce new solutions. Although these adjustments were actioned in response to COVID-19, these shifts have created a new customer reality where consumer behaviours, habits and preferences will change.

These shifts are essential to keep in mind when resuming business operations post-pandemic, or at least post-lockdown. Although consumer behaviour going forward is difficult to predict for certain, the key for any organisation is to listen, pivot, learn, and reassess.

Review what has worked during the pandemic and consider what could be kept in place in the long-term. Design your future business model with these in mind, and keep an eye on consumer trends. At the same time, watch innovations from others in your industry or sector, and use these as a source of creativity for your own business.

Reimagining the workplace

COVID-19 has demonstrated that flexible work is the ‘new necessary’ for most organisations — even those who may have previously resisted the change. The end of COVID-19 lockdowns and entire workforces in work from home arrangements won’t spell the end of remote working. In fact, it’s been the accelerator for change in this space, forcing organisations to rethink work as we know it.

RELATED: Effective workplace adaptabiity for a post-COVID world

Organisations need to consider how to integrate remote work into daily business operations. Use the time now to document your processes and learnings from COVID-19. Which tools and technologies have worked best for your teams, where could your business improve in terms of working, and where will you need to invest moving forward? These insights will help you design a strategy that works for your business and teams post-COVID.

Realigning your teams

A vast number of the Australian workforce have been working from home over the past months, and managers have been required to adapt and learn to manage teams remotely.

Post-COVID-19, managers will also be instrumental in ensuring the smooth transition back to the workplace, whether it be gradual or staggered.

Restoring team morale, rebuilding trust, realigning on missions and goals, and increasing engagement are essential to ensure that you regain your workplace environment productivity as soon as possible.

Conduct a company or team meeting to officially acknowledge the challenges of COVID-19, realign the company around a common goal, and share the plan for resuming business operations. Follow these up with one-on-one meetings to understand employee sentiment as you start the next chapter of business recovery.

Much like navigating the COVID-19 landscape, the road to recovery will be challenging. However, with the right exit and return strategies in place, you’ll put your business and people in the best position possible to adapt, survive, and thrive.

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