Well, it’s been quite a year, hasn’t it? To say 2020 was the year nobody saw coming would be a gross underestimation and every business has felt the impact of COVID-19 in one way or another. There are many things we’re all likely to take away from 2020 from a personal point of view but today we’re going to look at lessons all business owners learned this year and discuss things to consider for the future.
Remote working can be done
While some industries adopted remote (or flexible) working many years ago, there are still many industries that are loathe to set up remote working capabilities for their teams. There have been numerous studies (and even more ongoing now) about the positive impact working from home can have on both productivity and mental health, and one of the most widespread changes many of us saw this year was having to change from working in an office to working from home almost overnight.
Of course, many industries were unable to make this shift (healthcare, retail and hospitality, to name but a few) but many business owners had to adapt to their teams working remotely with very little notice.
After initial teething problems with technology (there’s still always that one person who can’t seem to unmute themselves on Zoom!), most managers noticed the positive impact working remotely had on productivity. According to a 2020 study conducted by Birmingham University, 58.6% managers reported an increase in productivity amongst those working from home.
While many teams will return to office life after social distancing and lockdown restrictions are reduced, we’re likely to see a large uptick in flexibility and remote working.
Communication is key
While there are many positives to remote working, the downside is that working without a team around you can feel isolating, particularly to those who are used to working closely and collaboratively with colleagues.
In order to combat loneliness (particularly amongst those living alone during the pandemic) businesses have learned the importance of communication between teams and how technology can play a part in boosting morale and feelings of camaraderie.
Zoom coffee breaks, daily stand up meetings, instant messaging and virtual socials are just a few ways businesses have been helping teams come together even when we all had to remain apart.
We think it’s fair to say that nobody predicted 2020 would pan out like this and it was a sobering reminder of the importance of change management. Businesses in every single industry had to think on their feet, adapt immediately to ever-changing measures, and consider the physical and mental wellbeing of their staff alongside business needs.
It was a difficult juggling act that showed just how important change management is and how every business should be ready to make large-scale changes in a short period of time.
Importance of an online presence
In a year when a business’ online presence became more important than ever, many business owners realised they’d been sorely neglecting their company’s website and online marketing efforts. An engaging and well-maintained website will help you retain those longterm users and convert potential interested parties into loyal customers.
Investing in technology and online resources is one of the biggest lessons many businesses will be taking away from this year and a large majority of the businesses that managed to weather the storm of 2020 did so because they could bring their business online without too many costly and time-consuming changes.
Always have a back up plan
Did your business have a crisis plan in place in 2019? No? We didn’t think so. Do you have one now? That’s what we thought. A global event of this scale hasn’t happened in most of our lifetimes so very few businesses were able to adapt to life in a pandemic without at least some associated costs and changes to make.
As we (hopefully) start to take steps to return to ‘normality’ in the coming months, we should look at the lessons we’ve all learned this year and realise that perhaps returning entirely to the way things were before isn’t necessarily a good thing. There are certainly lessons we can all take away from 2020 and whether it was an outdated website preventing you from maximising your online services or difficulty communicating with your team during lockdown, take the time to see how the pandemic affected your business and what measures you can put in place now to prevent those same problems in the future.
After all, if 2020 has taught us one thing it’s to expect the unexpected!