This year has certainly not been the one that many of us imagined, clinking those glasses on New Year’s Eve, having goals for the next twelve months that may have included resonance ambitions, success in the workplace, growing your business and moving on with your company. Then the headlines started about a virus outbreak in China and then come March and countries were placed under strict lockdown.
When you read it back, it is crazy to think that we have all just been through something that was unimaginable. Businesses had to stop trading or employees had to work from home. Children couldn’t attend school and now we can start to resume normal life as long as we keep two meters apart to social distance and wear a face mask. How have times changed?
But the biggest difference for many of us would be how our working life has changed. Your business may have managed to function through lockdown by flexible working. It might have meant that you had to diversify. Offer up your services in a different way, offer delivery methods or even change the sort of products that you sold. Maybe it opened up doors? Maybe it has given you a new direction to take with your business. The one thing is for sure, that you can take so many positives from this experience. Has lockdown changed the way you approach your work and home life balance? Let’s discuss some of the positives that may have come from this experience. Perhaps it will remind you that there has been a lot to gain from this year, and 2020 could really be the year of change.
Flexible working from home
There is no denying that lockdown gave many businesses no option but to work from home. Prior to this, you may have thought that it wasn’t possible to work so flexibly, preferring everyone to be in the office and to show their faces, even if your business wasn’t necessarily customer facing. However, when there was no choice but to work from home, did you suddenly realise how easy it could be? Thanks to the latest technology advances such as VPN access for work systems and email, video conferencing software for those all-important meetings, and being able to work at various times of the day, lockdown has made so many realise that working from home is possible.
The difference it can make to working life
One point to remember about working from home and the flexible option is what a difference it can make to working life as well as the personal lives of your employees. As things start getting back to normal, you may want to convene with some of the flexible working options. It could offer up savings on office areas that you no longer need, or even enable your employees to work at different times that suit them. This could suit them in terms of their lives as well as things get back to normal such as being present for the school run with children, or not having a long commute to work means they are better prepared for their day without the morning rush. Small changes such as these could really enhance working life, enable your employees to be present and more productive with the time that they have, as well as have them feeling happier because the balance at home will finally be equal.
A new direction when it comes to products and/or services
Lockdown may have stopped you from trading as you would have normally. Perhaps you sold products in a shop, for example, or maybe you had to offer up services in a different way, such as starting to specialise in digital products instead of things done face to face. So many businesses had to diversify in order to survive and, because of that, perhaps you have had your eyes opened to a new direction to take your business now things are getting back to normal. Maybe it is time to start looking at how you can make this new way of business work for the future. Perhaps you have seen there is more that you can do and want to explore it further. Again this might have much to do with finding a new area of work because of the way life has changed because of lockdown. Maybe it requires you to work smarter and not harder.
Where should you invest in your business?
It might be that you have started to rethink where you should invest with your business. Perhaps working from home has made you realise you don’t need the big expensive office lease anymore. Perhaps you now need to think about investing that money each month into something new, or some flexible options for working from home. Maybe it is time to invest in your business in the ways that you changed the way you operated; perhaps a new line of products or services could now be expanded with fresh investment after testing the water during lockdown. These things could help you save your money as well, which could be very useful given the current circumstances that countries find themselves in with the threat of recession.
Your future goals
Another thing to think about would be the future goals that you have for your business. Have these changed after these last few months? It might be that your business has thrived during lockdown in a direction you never thought was possible until you had no choice but to try. Maybe you need to consider how your business moves forward now. Perhaps your industry has had massive changes and restrictions, such as the hospitality or beauty industry. Maybe rethinking your goals is a good idea right now so that you can focus on the next few months as the world starts to get back to some normality and business resumes properly once more.
On a personal note, what really matters?
You may be very focused on your business and company right now, and rightly so, but has lockdown changed you personally? Many have said that working from home and getting a better work and home life balance has made their bond with their family stronger. It has given them a sense of what is important and how to not only keep their business going but to also enjoy life a little more. You might have also realised that personally there is more to life than you perhaps through there was previously. Maybe you have started to appreciate the little things, appreciate your home and the family that you have. So many people have said that lockdown has changed them and perhaps this has given you a greater perspective on things to come when it comes to living your life moving forward.
Are there possible business savings to be made?
Back to your business and lockdown might have allowed you to see that there are big savings to be made with your business. Perhaps you have realised that flexible options for working from home is better than having people in the office. Not just because you can save on leases and invest that money elsewhere but you could also find that it is a safer option right now. It helps to avoid having to deal with social distancing and face masks and enables you to keep people safe. The threat from Covid has not gone away yet and so you may want to keep things as they are for as long as possible. Maybe you haven’t needed to outsource certain elements of your business as you have found the time to do them yourself. There are big savings to be made.
Rethinking your business structure
You may want to start thinking about your business structure now. Perhaps you had to manufacture products overseas but when restrictions came into force across the world were unable to get the products you need to sell within your business or the elements needed to help create the products you sell or the services that you offer. Maybe now is the time to start keeping things in-house, create new options to manufacture your own products and perhaps even not hire staff but outsource to freelancers on a self-employed basis. There are many ways you can change the structure of your business and lockdown may have not only forced you to make these changes but to see some of the big positives that could be rewarded.
Placing a value on your time
Finally, it is just as important that you start to place a value on your time or, more importantly, know the value where your skills lie best in your business. You want to push your business forward but you can’t do everything. Outsourcing aspects of your business that take up time from you, or perhaps are where your skills are not the most successful, could help to free up your time to focus on where it matters. Driving sales into your business, being the face of your business on social media or making important changes to things like manufacturing or diversifying your business further.
Let’s hope lockdown has changed your business for the better and has enabled you to strive forward with new hope as normality starts to resume once more.
HR Future Staff Writer, UK.