Planning ahead is key to tackling chaotic supply chain disruptions, remote-working migrations, and the pending economic recession.
As the COVID saga slows but continues, businesses of all sizes have been negatively affected. The work-scape remains challenging for owners and managers who are coping with issues such as supply chain disruptions, staffing shortages, and cultural changes brought on by “hybrid employees” who are working from home more often.
While the global supply-chain issue may be out of our control, what is the plan to handle other business challenges posed by the virus–a new variant of which may yet rear its ugly head? Have you even considered such a plan?
In this second installment of our three-part series, we examine what it takes to move forward successfully heading into Q3 2022.
· How to deal with some of these challenges.
· Can you avoid any of them?
· How can you prepare for the future?
· Will things ever return to “normal” (whatever that is!)?
Now is the time for businesses to seek and seize opportunities, according to U.K.-based professional services network PwC. “This process can involve conducting an ‘after-action review’ to collect data and insights on lessons learned [thus far] from the pandemic,” says a PwC spokesperson, “and then using these to prioritize actions to enhance business value today and build strategic resilience for tomorrow.
“Businesses that take these steps now will be well-placed to capitalize more effectively on the opportunities rising in the post-COVID-19 recovery,” PwC continues, “and to continue winning in their marketplaces as greater certainty and stability return.”
COVID Ain’t Over …
However, Gee Ranasinha, CEO of international marketing agency Kexino, wants to be clear that we are not out of the proverbial woods yet when it comes to health concerns posed by the COVID-19 virus and its variants. “The pandemic is still very much with us,” he stresses from his firm’s European base in France. “Some 80% of the globe still hasn’t gotten their first jab.”
Here are four steps for employers to consider as more working arrangements go hybrid/remote:
1. Enable a Virtual Workspace
2. Rethink Physical Operations
3. Consider Creating an Emergency Operations Center
4. Amend Security Protocols
Source: virtual app developer Parallels Application Server (RAS)
But Ranasinha is not convinced that totally remote working is a “thing.” He believes the work-from-home trend was a knee-jerk reaction during the heart of the pandemic, exclaiming, “We couldn’t get out of our bloody houses!”
After all, broadband data transmission and video-conferencing technologies, such as Skype and Zoom, are nothing new, he points out. “We could have done this 10 or more years ago,” says Ranasinha, whose 14-year-old firm works with clients in nine countries. He adds that all the “tsunami of change talk is nonsense.
“Behaviors don’t change on a dime, not in two years,” he contends. “What influences buying behaviors has not changed. Let’s look at it in 2030 and see where we’re at.”
He acknowledges there has been a slight correction regarding hybrid type working arrangements. “Especially for younger, 20-somethings, employment structure has a greater bearing on whether to join a company,” Ranasinha explains. For younger workers, factors such as flexible hours and hybrid/remote options can be just as important as medical benefits and 401k retirement plans, he adds. If people have to come into the office only one or two days per week, they can justify buying a bigger, more affordable home, with a bigger yard, 40 miles away from a large metropolitan area.
When discussing the labor shortage, Ranasinha attributes much of the problem to inferior companies and bad bosses, noting that the power dynamic in the workplace has become more employee-centric. “Employees have more control now, so the [employer-employee] relationship needs to be reciprocal” — more of a give and take, if you will.
With a global economic recession looming, there is no perceived end to preventative and cautionary measures. Citing lower wages and raising prices for gasoline and food, Ranasinha warns that a huge recession is coming, adding that the Russia-Ukraine conflict complicates world economy matters even further.
He concurs that planning ahead and mitigating risk are crucial to sustaining business success. “Take time this summer to review your articulation of value to customers. Also, review customer touchpoints,” he advises. “How and where do you find them?”
If you maintain a brick-and-mortar store presence, he adds, you’d better implement a digital game plan: “Not having a digital strategy these days is like playing Russian roulette with your business: It’s no longer a matter of if you’ll need it, but when.” He also recommends having a Plan B and a Plan C in place. In the B2C space, he asks hypothetically, “What happens if your primary delivery model collapses? You need to be ready with alternative delivery models.”
Preparation is key, so that when the next shoe drops, you can be among the first out of the gate. “Take this time, now, for strategic foresight,” he urges. “Refine a relevant, resonant message.”
The good news, if there is any, may be that recessions are more elastic nowadays—“we bounce back faster,” Ranasinha explains. “Once we hit rock bottom, the rebound is quicker.” But to weather the storm, organizations will need to be lean and mean, poised to take advantage of weaker, less prepared competitors. The time is now!
Coming Next: Part 3
Next month, Part 3 of this series will identify strategies and resources that businesses can employ to be better prepared for what may come next, heading into 2023.