“It’s about making choices. Some are easy. Some are hard. And some will make you question everything.” – Tim Cook
With COVID-19 circulating freely, many of us have felt the sting directly in our staffing levels already. Those who haven’t should expect it this winter. There’s a vaccine on the horizon, but months of escalating numbers to endure before that.
You need to be prepared to keep your businesses running as more staff go into isolation than ever before. You’ve probably built a Business Continuity plan already, even if informally, but is it aggressive enough to get you through the next few months?
Here’s how to take your Business Continuity planning to the next level and make sure that the winter of 20/21 doesn’t force your business to a standstill.
You hire people for certain skills, and the better they are at those skills, the harder it is to cross-train others to step in. That being said, keeping your business running is going to involve a little triage of your team’s essential skills.
Even your most specialized employees aren’t using specialized skills all the time. Chances are that another employee who uses similar processes could step in with minimal training. Go through your roster of key employees and identify who else on your team shares core competencies—or at least the ones that you can’t live without. Making these matches will help you maintain the bulk of employee operations should anyone need to isolate.
Set-Up Now for Remote
By now, the people who fit easily into the remote work paradigm have already made the leap and are already set up in their living rooms. Or, depending on your business, perhaps they’ve already done their stint at home and have since returned to the office. But what about the people who don’t seem to fit into remote work.
You may have employees who seem too tied-in with their teams or in-house systems to be able to work from home. However, while it’s possible some tasks need to be done in your facility, chances are that the majority of what they do can be remote.
This doesn’t mean that you need to send them home. It means that you prep them for remote work so, should they need to isolate, you can make it happen seamlessly. There will be some disruption by having them out of the office, but the diligence beforehand will minimize the disturbance. Prepare them for the possibility of remote work by:
- Setting up software on employee laptops that allows them to access and modify files on your office’s server
- Ensuring all team members are trained and comfortable using video conferencing apps, like Zoom or Google Meet
- Documenting protocols for the team to follow should some or all team members need to work from home, i.e. continuing morning standup meetings via video call
Business survival is about liquidity. For those businesses who have already eaten their reserves (and, sadly, there are many), the last bastion of liquidity is your customers.
Whether they’re overdue by a day or a month, get on the phone with them. Skip the emails—they’re too easy to ignore. You have a relationship with them and this is the time to level with them person-to-person about the need to pay their bill on time.
Identify Key Services
We follow the 80/20 rule: 80% of revenue comes from 20% of your offerings. If your business has to contract due to staff shortages, the 20% is your “Alamo.” Those are the services and products that tend to be in the center of your wheelhouse and which the most amount of staff can fulfill (the other 80% tend to be specialized to a few people).
Identify this all-important 20% of your offerings now so that if you lose enough staff that you need to cut back services, you can do so in a tactical and controlled way without chomping into your bread and butter.
We’re all waiting with bated breath for this seemingly endless storm to be over. However, scientific innovation is giving us a light at the end of a long tunnel. While the ride is far from over, let’s allow these breakthroughs to act as a source of optimism and a reason to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel.