As the world starts to peek out under the virus curtain and look around, we have some tough decisions to make. Are we going back to the way things were before we began this odyssey? Chances are, not exactly. Some key questions to ask are:
Should I bring everyone back into the office?
- Some companies are finding there are productivity improvements for employees working remotely. People are spending less time commuting (and grooming!), and salespeople aren’t spending as much time driving around. They work on what matters and are less likely to get caught up in unimportant tasks as they do when in the office. If you haven’t already, begin to measure productivity.
- Bringing people back safely will carry requirements for social distancing, air quality and traffic flow management. Having to reconfigure office space or put new protocols in place can add cost. By having some workers stay remote you may save on real estate and space upgrades.
- The more flexible you are with working remotely, the wider the options on hiring best-in-class resources. Many of us in the Midwest can find it difficult to lure people from the coasts. While perhaps relocating was a deal breaker before, maybe it really isn’t now?
Where should I be selectively investing for better recovery?
- Operating Efficiency: The more you can find ways to cut costs, that are sustainable post recovery, the more margin you can add when revenue ramps up. Have you digitized a service out of necessity that customers like better than the old way? Scheduling tools, shipment tracking, and factory acceptance testing are just a few to consider.
- Marketing: Since we have started changing how we communicate with customers we have opened up opportunities to change the conversation too. The millennials have different expectations than baby boomers about which parts of the sales process need to be face-to-face. They collect their information online and then just want to verify details with you. “Personal selling” as we know it is changing. Invest in how you can develop a sales funnel that combines digital and hands-on selling that is the “best among your competitive set”.
- R & D: There is a higher likelihood that customers that have been willing to exchange some risk–like product quality, supply chain assurance—to get a better price—are less likely to do so now. Consider bundling products with services, developing more “stop gaps” and “guarantees” in your offer, and help them increase results while reducing risk. The market is demanding innovation.
- New Plant/Equipment: The trend towards automation is accelerating. As we solve challenges for the concentration of bodies in spaces, we may be finding innovative approaches that work better for us long term—bringing greater capability or knowledge. Artificial intelligence will continue to be important for raising the business performance high bar. Robotics will provide efficiencies while adding reliability, eliminating dependence on the human factor. It gives you the ability to redeploy your workforce in areas where the personal touch is required and shore up strength in high-priority areas—essentially allowing you to do more with the same number of people.