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Rebuilding your business as we emerge from lockdown

Rebuilding your business as we emerge from lockdown
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Rebuilding your business as we emerge from lockdown
Julian Weekes - ActionCOACH by Julian Weekes - ActionCOACH
Business Coach - ActionCOACH

The 23rd March 2020 seems a long time ago – the day lockdown started.  For business owners it will be a date to remember.  For some businesses, there was no option but to shut up shop.  For others, staff were sent home to carry on as best they could.  For hospitality and hairdressers, things started to change on the 4th July – Independence Day.  As lockdown starts to be relaxed, business coach Julian Weekes of ActionCOACH advises how you can learn from the experiences of the last few months to create new opportunities for your company.

The small print!

The first thing to note is that, while I work with business owners to refine and improve their business development, margins and strategy all the time, any specific Human Resource or Health and Safety issues require advice from a specialist in these areas; their advice will be tailored to your circumstances.

That’s the small print out of the way! Now let’s think about how you can use the experiences we have all been through over the last few months to your business advantage.

Business as usual – or a better business model?

No one was hurt, for some strange reason all your prized possessions and heirlooms are still in perfect condition, but your house has just burnt to the ground.  The insurance company are doing a great job, sorted temporary accommodation, have agreed to replace all of your contents on a new-for-old basis.  They then tell you your policy covers not only the cost of rebuilding; you have the option of redesigning your property.  All those nagging things you and your family did not like can be rectified.  You can have your house the way you really want it, so it will really work well for you.

Now look at your business, it could be in a remarkably similar situation.  When you ‘re-open’ do you have to operate in exactly the same way?  Could this be an opportunity to redesign parts of your business, to have it function as you always wanted it to, or to incorporate some of the lessons you have been taught by lockdown?  It is possible you don’t have a totally free rein, but you do have the choice to implement some change; possibly there will never a better time to do this than now.

Understanding where your business is now

Before you make radical decisions about the future of your business, you need to understand where it is now, as we stand on the brink of emerging from lockdown. How did you measure performance prior to Covid-19? Does that need to change?  Do you have new measures?  There is a possibility that you have had a relaxed attitude over the last few months because of the immediate priorities of business survival during lockdown; if that’s the case, now is probably the time to start reviewing your systems and monitoring KPIs.

A key element in this is likely to be understanding where your staff are: how have they grown, learnt and adapted; what have they found challenging; what are they looking forward to; what are they nervous about? So much has changed that, even if your staff’s appraisals aren’t routinely due now, it’s an excellent idea to conduct formal interviews with all your staff to understand how their experiences over the last few months have shaped them and how they feel this positions them for supporting the business as you bring it out of lockdown.

Formal appraisals will also help you identify who has loved working from home and might want to continue doing that some of the time (which may help while social distancing is still in place), and who can’t wait to get back to the office. As well as their personal preferences, you also want to have a benchmark of their respective productivity, both before and during lockdown. This will give you essential insights to inform any restructuring of your business operations that you might be considering in our brave new world, weighing up your employees’ wishes with the needs of the business and team performance.

Policy implications of our new ways of working  

Remember that as an employer you still have the same duty of care you had before Covid-19 and lockdown in terms of looking after your staff health and welfare, such as a Display Screen Equipment Workstation Assessment. If some of your staff potentially opt to continue working from home some of the time, you will need to review your Health and Safety procedures to cover home working.

With the Government’s Job Retention Scheme extended to the end of October, you now have the flexibility to bring employees in and out of furlough.  There will be those who have been working from home or furloughed who may resist returning to work; this needs to be dealt with sensitively – take advice from your HR consultant.

Planning where you are going to take your business post lockdown

So, what is your business plan post lockdown?  There are some key things to consider that will help you make the most of the unchartered territory we are entering:

  • What is your optimal business structure? Will you return to the same working pattern as before or take advantage of some of the lessons learnt during lockdown? Are you going to make radical changes or get the business back to exactly where it was before Covid-19, or is there some point between the two that would be achievable and be good for the business?
  • How will you structure your operations? Who will return to the workplace; will it be fulltime, or some days in the office and some working from home?
  • How will you manage social distancing? Take expert Health & Safety advice.
  • How will your plans impact your team?
  • What support will your staff require as they transition back to work? Ensure that you support your employees with any new arrangements based on the information you have gleaned from them through your appraisal process. Much has changed in the last few months, so consider back-to-work interviews and induction sessions. Take expert HR advice.

Covid-19 has drastically changed the business and work environment, but this presents an unexpected opportunity right now to redesign your business, to make it more effective and therefore more profitable. 

MEET THE EXPERT

Julian Weekes of ActionCOACH helps business owners refine their businesses to make them more profitable to help them achieve their professional and personal goals. He is running a Planning Workshop for business owners from 12:30pm to 3:30pm on 24 July book your place here. On 29 July he is running a taster session for his business owners’ mentoring group, BusinessCLUB, from 08:00 TO 09:00am – book your place here.

Alternatively, Julian is offering gifted one-hour 121s throughout Covid-19 for any business owner wishing to discuss strategies to rebuild their business: email julianweekes@actioncoach.com or call 01732 453 464.

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