Lockdown arrangements to help keep people safe during the COVID-19 outbreak mean that businesses and consumers have both had to find new ways to carry out their usual daily tasks. Working from home has become the norm for many people wherever possible and shopping and leisure have both seen many people switching to online in order to keep to social distancing rules.
What happens after lockdown?
As thoughts start to turn to how the COVID-19 lockdown may be eased, the question is how much will businesses continue to develop the new digital processes that they’ve put into place. While many may return to the usual bricks and mortar nature of the business, they could find that they have found new customers through the digital transformations they’ve had to make.
Once lockdown is eased or lifted, the challenge could be to unify both aspects of the business so that offline and online activities come together. It could mean that the short-term adjustments made during lockdown actually transform the business long-term, putting it into a stronger position to grow and develop.
What needs to be done?
To make sure that businesses continue to develop their digital channels, it’s important to take a look at this and see what changes and investments may be required. Consumers have become more digitally literate during lockdown and although many will return to bricks and mortar as it lifts, their expectations will have shifted slightly. Those businesses with a good digital strategy in place will steal the march. Businesses need to be constantly evolving to survive and thrive and it’s important to consider what needs to be done to stay ahead of the competition.
Switching to digital
Making the switch to digital doesn’t necessarily mean just having an online trading presence. Communications within and outside the business need to be considered and this could involve a long, hard look at traditional working habits to see if these could be improved. Marketing and promoting the business might also need to be looked at to see if a wider audience could be reached through a more digitally proactive approach.
Investing in digital
To make sure businesses fully exploit a new digital approach, they may need to allocate time, space and money to put things into place. Finances may need to be allocated to new resources in terms of internet connections, adequate servers and other items of hardware and software to equip the team with the right tools for the job in carrying out a digital transformation.
Get the team on board
Staff may need training and encouragement to realise that some of the changes put into place at short notice are being considered for development and as a long-term investment. Arrangements for home working or more flexible working arrangements need to be carefully considered to make sure that it works well for both parties.
Staff may need some reassurance that this will grow the business but will also have a positive impact on the work/life balance for employees. It’s important to have a good team on board who understand how a digital transformation can enhance the business’ performance.
The budgeting arrangements for making a digital switch need to be considered. It could be that more money needs to be invested in providing additional resources, but this needs to be weighed up against the cost-savings that could be made with home working or remote working. Overhead costs could be reduced, especially when expensive travel and accommodation costs are taken into account for meetings that could be better held remotely.
Bringing a team together
As communication channels have adjusted during lockdown, it’s possible that teams have started to collaborate in new ways through remote channels and this could have long-term benefits. The ease and speed of online communications could see regular short virtual meetings replacing face to face meetings which tend to be less frequent but sometimes lengthy because of the logistics of managing diaries and geographies to bring a team together. New work habits may mean new procedures need to be put into place.
Getting a good idea as to how to strengthen the business with a digital strategy after the lockdown is lifted means that not only will the transition back into normal life be a little easier, but the business will be better prepared for any similar event or resurgence in the future. Investing in new processes and resources now will put the business in better shape to evolve and grow with ever-changing times.