The short answer is: very. COVID-19 has been a steep learning curve for many organisations. Uncertainty, negative outlooks and the impact of the virus on workforces has been a huge challenge across the business community. There has been a need to act quickly to evaluate the best way to respond - and also to recognise where people and operations have been resilient even in the most challenging of times. This resilience is something that organisations now need to build on, integrating greater contingency to ensure that the post-COVID world is a place where business can thrive.
The human element
Any business is driven by people, whether they are customers, staff, suppliers or stakeholders. Most people experienced disruption to their lives this year as a result of coronavirus and key to business resilience has been making space for this. There are a number of different ways in which organisations have sought to make themselves more resilient where people are concerned - and which will need to be even more of a focus post-COVID:
- Being accessible and ready to help customers. Financial hardship is an ongoing theme and being able to provide some relief from this can contribute to a more resilient customer base. More broadly, looking at what customers most need right now is essential.
- Reaching out to partners and suppliers. Answering queries, keeping lines of communication open and looking for opportunities within the chaos make these essential relationships stronger.
- Workforce management. For many businesses, the early part of the year was all about shifting to a new way of working with a large proportion of staff working from home. Investment in technology has been crucial to enable this to happen seamlessly and quickly and to create contingency against future uncertainty. There has also been a need to focus far more on wellbeing, as well as productivity and outcomes. Increased flexibility to accommodate family commitments, more regular monitoring and communication, newsletters, video conferencing and regular check ins can all help to make a workforce function more effectively and feel engaged and valued in a way that creates essential resilience going forward.
Building operational resilience and contingency is heavily driven by the use of technology. This has not only enabled businesses to respond quickly to enforced changes but also to find new ways to serve essential needs flexibly and innovatively. In the post-COVID world it is technology that will provide the tools for ongoing operational resilience. Effective use of technology allows organisations to be agile and combined with robust operating procedures provides a solid foundation for whatever comes next. Achieving resilience and effective contingency post-COVID will require many businesses to integrate technology in new ways and to find fresh opportunities to meet customer needs, from self service to updating online systems to ensure that they can handle spikes in queries during particularly uncertain times.
Resilience and contingency will be essential post-COVID, particularly because we don’t yet know what that landscape will look like. From supporting workforces to leaning heavily on technology, these are just some of the ways that organisations can start to build this essential strength in.