The return-to-work process can be just as confusing and uncertain as the work-from-home process was in the first few weeks. There are many unknowns. How should business navigate loosening restrictions? How can you build staff and consumer confidence upon reopening? How quickly will consumer demand return? Will technology need to change? Will your information technology strategy still work? Are there temporary technology stopgaps that need to be removed, improved or replaced?
The reopen phase will be as much of a state of mind as a business function. The ability to build confidence and assuage safety concerns will demonstrate your company’s eagerness to function successfully in this post-pandemic environment. As businesses reopen, customers and staff will most likely expect a conscientious approach to operations, policies, and procedures that ensure their continued safety and security. Consider having a Return-To-Work team in place who can help guide your staff back into office routine and help them understand and meet customer expectations. Depending on your industry, customer demand will return incrementally.
The return work phase will bring unforeseen complications, but also great opportunities for review and assessment. Take time to consider your operations during the shutdown and during the return to work phase:
- What have you done well?
- What needs to be improved?
- What permanent changes need to be made?
- Did you get hammered by security issues?
- Did you find yourself searching for impromptu solutions because in-office tools were not available while working from home?
Now that you have this insight, it is time to act and innovate with a thoughtful technology strategy. A technology strategy can help implement meaningful and necessary changes to infrastructure, avoid and mitigate risk.
Every strategy needs a road-map to implementation. The best approach is to work with an experienced technology partner to build a detailed road-map to your reopening. Your road-map should contain multiple scenarios and responses to possible factors, crisis impact, change in consumer expectation, effect on household and business spending, and economy confidence.
If we follow the market increase among industries in European and Asian countries following their return to work, we see a definite distinction in which industries were able to resume to regular activity first and which industries lagged. Overall, industries who were able to move most of the operations into digital processes saw a faster return than industries that still rely on human to human product and service delivery. For example, businesses that rely on digitized administrative functions, such as accounting firms and payroll processors, rebounded faster than the personal service industries. Size also became a factor showing large businesses returned to normal operations faster than small businesses.