At the time of writing, the world is slowly opening up, like a Butterfly emerging from a cocoon. We know some elements of life will just return to normal but there will also be change – and from a business perspective, encompassing the ‘new’ is not only essential but it will keep you moving forward, able to tackle global crises as best you can. The R3 Foundation in the Cayman Islands has acted quickly to help identify how improved strategy that can support people through times of global challenge from a top down level, be the crisis man-made or natural. Business owners and partners have a similar challenge at an organizational level – right now everyone should be thinking, how can we be better prepared for the future?
The key word to come out of the Covid-19 pandemic for the business world is ‘resilience’. Resiliency has been an environmental focus for many years now – how can the natural world adapt to changing climate and stressors? How can we protect key species so the survive? Now, it’s imperative for the business world to take this focus and build resilience into their strategy.
What does being resilient really mean? Covid-19 has taught us a few really important lessons about the future and understanding how we can be more resilient. Firstly: the ability to adapt from an operations and HR perspective is key. The reliance upon international travel, face-to-face interaction and large numbers of people working in big offices has changed, certainly for the short-term and potentially whenever a global pandemic hits our shores again. People need to be able to work remotely, potentially in different countries and across time zones. For countries like the Cayman Islands, increased storm activity also poses a similar barrier to work life, so being able to quickly move your operations, ensure your systems are safe, secure and accessible by the relevant people is paramount to being resilient for the future. For many companies, a remote business model was not part of the everyday strategy and Covid-19 resulted in a flurry of activity to set people up so business could continue as smoothly as possible. Now we have this understanding, we can build it into the longer-term business model and we can potentially improve how we work remotely, taking the opportunity now to stand back, assess what happened and set clear parameters for what your business expects in terms of service levels and remaining professional when remote working.
Secondly, identifying potential risks in your market and how you can navigate around them to accommodate issues such as a global pandemic, would help you become more resilient. The Cayman Islands Government has openly asked the tourism operators to look at how they can be less reliant upon international travel. For smaller businesses, it might be a case of looking at your supply chain, are you overly reliant upon one supplier or one country? Should you reduce your overhead or your stock holding, if this happens again, what would help you? Do you have funding in place to support a quieter period of trading if needed? Being able to flex your business up and down to proactively respond to the market will help you weather any future storms.
Across the globe, we moved very quickly and almost entirely to a digitally based communications methodology overnight. Conversations were replaced by email. Face to face interaction has been replaced by video conferencing. Performance reviews have been done miles away from each other. Managing the business during times of high stress has been done in the isolation of your own home, in general. For HR professionals and business owners, managing this aspect of remote working should be considered as part of your ‘resilience’ strategy. How did your team cope? At times of high stress, having the right team in place is crucial and this might impact your recruitment policy going forward.
Perhaps as a team, you need to work out what went well, and what didn’t and put a plan in to make sure your people come out of situations like Covid 19 feeling as positive as they can, resilient and able to move forward with energy and motivation.