What Lessons Have We Learned from the COVID-19 Pandemic?

We have all just lived through one of the biggest periods of change in our lifetimes, both personally and professionally. It has changed our priorities, our mindsets, our behaviours and our attitudes.

From a business perspective we have had to make a wide range of fast and crucial unplanned decisions reacting to the changing situation. We have faced challenges and adapted our business models to remain agile and, in many cases, to continue trading.

The impact of these changes will remain well past the pandemic, so what have we discovered about ourselves, our staff and our businesses and how can we benefit from these learnings?

  1. Be ready for anything – With climate change, political unrest and unforeseen factors round the corner it is important to watch where things are going and plan for what might be coming rather than waiting until it happens.
  2. Get advice – Use the support you have in place and find specialist advice where needed to make informed choices, often about things you have not done before. Specialists can also signpost any help or support being offered so you can access it as soon as it becomes available.
  3. Make fast decisions – Often you need to make some pretty tough decisions fast in order to quickly pivot and be able to adapt to change. In many cases these can be short term but have contingencies for the long-term.
  4. Cash is king – In times of change cash flow is king so make decisions for the worst-case scenario to ensure that the business can survive. Cash is now essentially a business emergency fund to underpin loss of revenue, pay existing staff and even continue to grow.
  5. Put the business first – Often as a business owner you focus on yourself, shareholders, employees and clients but in times of change you need to put the business first. Without the business there will be nothing to own and no shareholders, employees or clients.
  6. Accept help – When unexpected change comes along learn to accept help. This is tough for those who pride themselves on building their business on their own, but it does not reflect on how good the business is, just the situation it is currently in.
  7. Communicate – One of the best ways to keep your team and stakeholders well-informed, updated and reassured is through regular and consistent communication. Take care of your clients by communicating all changes and being available to address concerns or questions.
  8. People matter – When things are tough, remember we’re all human and the way we treat one another will be remembered long after the crisis ends. At times of great uncertainty both at work and at home, show empathy and understanding and provide support where needed.
  9. Be honest – You can only find your way through a challenge if you are honest about it. Once you know where you really stand, you can work out where to go next. Let people know the position you are in as you often will find that they empathise or even share the same struggles.
  10. Be social – Whether is online or in person, keep connected. Use the opportunity to get to know the team, have fun and bond. Network with others, join events and socials, share expertise, and continue to engage with your wider community and build your reach.
  11. Celebrate success – When things are uncertain it is important to focus on the positive, celebrate success and react to the achievements of those around you. It can be a struggle to look ahead and see beyond the current situation but be optimistic and move forward.
  12. Embrace technology – A big lesson to take on board is the use of technology. Effective use of technology has become crucial, and a hybrid world is here to stay. Learn how to use it before you need it and keep the changes that work for your business.
  13. It is OK to make mistakes – When things change it is OK not to get it right first time. As the world adapts it is better to make mistakes and learn from each other, get training or support where needed and get to the right place for your business to flourish.
  14. Look ahead – It is easy to focus on the here and now at times of crisis but the businesses that succeed are those that keep looking ahead so they can make the right decisions at the right time coming out of the situation as well as during it.
  15. Use the catalyst for long-term change – After what we have all been through it is important to review your company mission, goals and values to make sure that they are still fit for purpose. Many of the decisions and changes made for the short-term provide real insight for long-term. The coronavirus provided a big opportunity to ensure you have a business that is agile and able to adapt and respond quickly to changing events.