In the current climate of a world facing challenges due to COVID-19 and the societal and economic structures it has disrupted, businesses around the world have struggled to cope. However, some have fared significantly better than others, and one of the primary reasons is an elastic—or, in other words, flexible and adaptive—digital workplace.
The Need for Digitization
Since essentially the turn of the century, businesses have begun to note with greater and greater frequency, the urgency of switching to an online presence for some or even all of their services. The unprecedented influence of the coronavirus disease has brought this issue to the forefront of most business owners’ minds. A digital-oriented business can help weather issues in ways that brick and mortar locations and in-person services cannot; even if a business chooses to continue fronting an in-person location, maintaining a strong and adaptive online presence will help the business adapt during unexpected events like COVID.
Take, for example, general customer outreach and communication. A bakery that relies on local foot traffic and has skimped on the digital side of things may find it difficult to communicate new store hours and policies due to the coronavirus, but a bakery with a thriving digital presence on social media and the web becomes much more adaptive to this situation. Similarly, the bakery with the online presence may be able to continue to provide limited business via online sketches for wedding cakes, while the non-digitized bakery will struggle to communicate with clients at all. This is just one example of the many ways that a digital workplace can benefit a business—and it only considers the customer side.
On the workers’ side, a digital workplace provides the opportunity for a business to continue operations even when workers can’t be present in person. The best time to set up the proper workflow, communication channels, and systems for remote work are before they are needed, but the second best time is now, if a business is missing these features.
The Effect of the Outbreak
One of the first roadblocks that most businesses encountered upon the introduction of COVID-19 to the economic landscape was an immediate, pressing need to organize their teams to work together in a new way—remotely. The top priority is to protect workers’ (and customers’) health and safety. Once that has been achieved, businesses must rapidly make often high-stakes decisions about how the company will proceed moving forward, enabling critical business operations to continue with the least interruption.
This is where the power of an elastic digital workplace comes into play. These adaptive methods are highly extendable and scalable, allowing for a business to adapt to the needs of its current environment dynamically, both locally and internationally.
Digital Resilience for COVID-19 and Beyond
A timely response is critical if businesses want to survive the unprecedented influence of the coronavirus. The best time to start is now; decisions made quickly—even within the next 24 hours—could have a dramatic and far-reaching impact on the outcome of a business.
Creating a Plan
1. Today: Assess the business as-is. Take a look at how the business is currently equipped to handle the COVID crisis. Does it possess the technology needed to keep operations going? Can the work and employee distributions be scaled appropriately? What support structures are in place? What communications options are available within the company?
Within 14 days: Scale and modernize rapidly. Identify and communicate with employees how the business intends to modernize to meet the needs of today after receiving feedback and developing the new plan. Areas to touch on and implement during this phase include supporting home networking, reevaluating the internet and digital security within the company given the remote nature of the work, and upgrading any tools that employees will need in the absence of the office.
Remember, collaboration is not a one-way street. Just as a business is performing these internal checks, the company should also be keeping in mind the greater business landscape, building bridges with partners and suppliers. A truly elastic workplace will be built on these bridges, crafting a reputable and actionable culture that facilitates the effective use of virtual work environments, seamless communication, and adaptive security to keep the business going safely in the internet space.
Different Needs, Similar Resources
Businesses of all types can benefit from taking a step back and analyzing where they stand in regards to a strong, adaptive, and resilient digital presence. From remote work to selling goods online, how a digitally controlled company can face disasters like COVID-19 will differ greatly from how a disconnected business might handle the crisis.
It is never too late to start the process of digitization, and it can offer numerous significant benefits to companies. There is no need to take the business entirely into the online sphere; in fact, a digital presence alongside a physical site can be a powerhouse combination, and a desire to maintain a physical presence should not be a deterrent for bringing a company into the digital arena. Consider areas of improvement in adaptable online presence so that COVID-19 becomes just another bump in the road on the journey to success.