The Business Exchange Swindon & Wiltshire Edition 49: June/July 2020 - Page 24
BUSINESS AFTER COVID
As businesses continue to navigate the uncharted
wake of Covid-19, people across all industries are
predict how the coming days, weeks, months and
Mark Adams, Director at Chippenham-based Mintivo, gives The Business E
an insight into his thoughts on the new normal.
Where are we now?
We’re all feeling the impact of the lockdown.
Of course, our priority now is on keeping
everyone safe – our family, friends and staff.
My heart goes out to anyone who is affected
by the pandemic.
Whilst in the midst of this huge change it’s
natural to focus on day-to-day survival, as
business owners and senior managers we
also have to think about a world beyond
Coronavirus. What will that world look like,
and what it will mean for business?
Before we look ahead, let’s think about what
we’ve seen so far.
The work is still getting done
but it’s not perfect
For the most part, work seems to be
carrying on as normal. Sure, some jobs
aren’t possible unless you’re on-site but for
office-based tasks, staff are as productive
Suddenly, services like Zoom, House
Party and Microsoft Teams/365 (pictured)
have become embedded in our daily
routines. For some, they have been a lifeline
in maintaining personal contact with family,
friends and colleagues.
You could say that technology has
been our saviour. Can you imagine if this
pandemic hit us 10 years ago? How much
more isolated might we have felt? How
much harder would it have been to work
together from home?
Remember you’re on camera
There’s a learning curve when it comes
to remote meetings. We’ve had to set
some rules: Turn on your camera, dress
appropriately (casual is fine but no PJs
please!), contribute but don’t talk over
people and if you’re going to take the
meeting in your garden, remember that
laptop microphones will pick up more noise
than you realise.
Humans are social animals
If anything, the remote working has shown
me how the little things we do as humans
are so important; making eye contact before
we speak, peoples’ mannerisms, those
little moments when they’re off-guard, the
spontaneous conversations and jokes. We
miss them and as time goes on, it gets
Friday night team drinks at our local.
Maintaining morale and keeping the team
‘connected’ is vital at this time. Our virtual
pub, The Minchester, is where all the
team congregate on Friday evening for
after work drinks. This is purely social and
all staff, including those who have been
furloughed, join in. Other activities such
as my daily exercise class and creating
screen backgrounds help to maintain those
personal relationships and the team culture.
Stop the IT project. It’s time to consolidate
Naturally, we’ve seen IT projects postponed
or cancelled. That’s understandable. If
businesses are considering furloughing staff,
capital expenditure has to be re-evaluated.
Resources have to go to immediate
operations and remote working.
IT projects will remain on-hold for the
foreseeable future. The projects that do go
ahead will be focussed on further resilience,
automation and cost saving, removing
reliance on location-based infrastructure as
much as possible. ‘Scalability’, both up and
down, will be a key objective.
Forget getting back to normal
At the risk of sounding negative, I see a
stormy outlook for business over the next 12
months. Financially, we could be looking at a
depression not seen since the 1930s, maybe
even worse. How will businesses respond?
Some will come to the conclusion that
they employ too many staff; that remote
tools and automation can reduce overhead
and provide resilience in times such as
these. Mass redundancies are a very real
concern and I’m worried for what that will
mean to the UK’s workforce.
Several high street brands will fail
Those with weaker business models will
struggle. We’ll see many businesses
fail – not just small businesses but large,
well-known high street brands too. Strong
businesses will adapt, survive and may even
thrive but weaker businesses will struggle.
But where there are losers, there will also
be winners. Some will change their business
models and pivot into new products and
services. We’re already hearing how some
pubs and restaurants have started offering
takeaway and delivery services. Some will
reach wider or newer audiences.
Remote working technology and app
services will grow
The technology world will see new releases
and upgrades to improve those remote
experiences. Expect these technologies
to feel ever-more human. I can see major
updates to messaging tools like Snapchat