Rethinking Your Business Model in the New Normal

Businesses across the globe are facing new challenges as they reopen in the wake of Covid-19. Circumstances have forced companies to work creatively and remotely, with processes and policies being developed on the fly. Now, as we work to find a balance in the “new normal”, many companies are reexamining the traditional office-based model with safety, liability, and business agility topping the priority list. Here are five critical business areas to consider when getting started.

1. Safety and Morale
Employees returning to physical offices need reassurance that the work environment is, and will remain, safe. This may include company provided PPE, nightly office sanitizing, minimizing use of shared spaces (and sanitizing those areas throughout the workday), and the ability to interact effectively while maintaining recommended social distancing protocols. Before ordering employees back to the office, evaluate your organization’s ability to comply with evolving state and federal safety guidelines and provide the equipment and services needed to keep work areas safe. Are you willing and able to incur the costs involved? Will those safety measures be enough to maintain morale and productivity?

2. Liability vs. Change Risk
Change can be difficult, especially for managers who are resistant to remote teams. Recalling employees to a physical location may offer more direct control, but it also comes with risk, should Covid-19 enter your building. An objective risk–benefit analysis will help to quantify your organization’s ability to respond to an internal health crisis (including both short and long-term costs) while adequately supporting customers, and whether the risk and potential cost impact involved in recalling remote employees outweigh the benefit of having them work onsite.

3. Change Tolerance and Cost
Remote work comes with unique challenges and not everyone is equipped to do so successfully. Employees who require significant oversight or support as well as those who struggle with adopting new technologies may be poor candidates for remote work. However, resourceful self-starters who are tech savvy and effective communicators should be strong remote performers. In both cases, communicate performance expectations clearly and use standard assessments to measure results, then make decisions based on efficiency to mitigate costs. Once productivity is sustained, consider the long-term cost benefits of a reduced physical footprint, centralized paperless data and collaboration tools, and work schedules that have more flexibility without the stress and lost time of daily commutes.

4. Engagement and Follow Through
For the longer-term, it may be beneficial to consider a hybrid model in which remote employees attend some meetings and events onsite. Having in-person face time with coworkers builds rapport and trust, facilitates teamwork, increases personal investment and loyalty, and engages remote workers with the community that is the heart of your organization. Keeping the lines of communication open is a two-way street, and effective communication is the cornerstone of managing a remote workforce. Connect with remote employees regularly, evaluate performance, and take corrective action immediately. Make sure your remote workers have the tools and skills they need to maintain productivity as well as an appropriate work-life balance.

5. Evaluation and Improvement
Now that the initial period of adjustment has passed and processes are being refined and improved, business leaders are uniquely positioned to assess options for future operational models. This begins with effective recruitment, interviewing, and assessment of remote candidates, and may necessitate additional training and retooling of your current processes. Commit to periodic evaluation of all remote work-related processes to maximize return on effective policies and procedures and continuously improve or areas of concern. Keeping employee relations at the forefront of these policies will help to ensure ongoing engagement and productivity.

Covid-19 may have forced a remote work model, but it has also shown how dedicated and agile employees can be. Likewise, adaptive business leaders who drive innovation will continue to generate success in these rapidly evolving conditions.