How to remain competitive through coronavirus and beyond

Since the emergence of the coronavirus pandemic at the start of 2020, companies around the world have struggled to adapt to a new normal of lockdowns, decreased trade, and lowering profits as the worst global recession in living memory has taken hold.  

Thankfully, as we near Covid-19’s first anniversary, it seems there are green shoots of hope appearing – mostly due to Pfizer’s vaccine being discovered to be 90% effective. With supplies of the vaccine expected to be rolled out in a matter of weeks, businesses and populations are once again tentatively starting to look forward to a return to relative normality.

However, if your business has managed to survive the last year, now is the time to start streamlining your operations and putting arrangements in place to remain competitive as we slowly emerge from the worst of the virus. The world post-coronavirus is likely to look rather different, so making changes now could improve your profitability and productivity over the coming months and years. 

Be adaptable

There is little doubt coronavirus has changed the world forever, and a key attribute you’ll need to survive and thrive in our new future is that of adaptability. As Winston Churchill once famously said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” 

Churchill’s words surely ring truer today more than ever, and it will be essential for businesses to adapt and change, capitalizing on new opportunities as they present themselves while mitigating losses in areas that are underperforming. 

Consider retraining staff rather than letting them go

Despite government support in the shape of furlough payments, employees have had a rough time through coronavirus, with many already left by the wayside and redundancy figures soaring. While companies will undoubtedly need to tighten their belts in the coming months and years, it’s worth remembering these days will pass and trade will eventually return – meaning you may well regret letting your best staff go.

Rather than simply laying off staff, try thinking about ways you might be able to retrain them to improve the overall profitability of your company. For example, lockdown forced a massive shift to home-working using cloud-based computing, so why not consider putting one (or some) of your employees on a cloud certification training course so you can benefit from having in-house expertise. 

While outwardly it might seem Covid-19 has reduced employment opportunities, actually, with a little lateral thinking, you could well find completely different openings arising. Other potential employment areas include hiring staff to help with e-commerce, customer relationship management (CRM) employees, or human resources staff to support remote workers. By thinking creatively, you may well be able to hold on to your best employees while also improving their skills. 

Invest in your IT network

Without exception, the companies that fared best over the last few months of lockdown were those that already had a robust IT network. Most experts agree we’re unlikely to see a full return to the old Monday to Friday, 9-5 work ethos, so invest now in your IT network to prepare for a future of remote-working. You’ll save money on office rent and rates, cut utility bills, and likely also improve the productivity and satisfaction levels of your staff.

Improve your online presence and branding

As above, those companies with a strong online presence (website, e-commerce operations, social media profile, and Search Engine Optimization (SEO)), weathered the coronavirus storm far better than those reliant on real-world old-school methods of business. If you haven’t already done so, take the time now to improve your online branding and accessibility to take better advantage of the digital economy of the future.