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The world is still in a state of chaos right now. What’s more, this chaos has sparked a major social, economic and technological transformation that is playing out before our eyes. Clearly, we won’t revert back to our old ways of living, working or doing business once the worst of the crisis has passed.

As we entered 2021, we went into Lockdown 3 which brought most businesses to a grinding halt. Despite mass vaccinations, the future is still unclear – uncertainty remains, which knocks business confidence.

Although lessons should have been learned from Lockdowns 1 & 2, the reality is that too many businesses are still behind the curve in terms of being able to effectively plot a way forward. Organisations should recognise the need to devise a lockdown exit strategy now, which should embrace the cultural and behavioural shifts the pandemic has forced upon us.

Business leaders are again focused on survival and ensuring the challenges of business continuity. First and foremost, they must secure financial viability and introduce new systems to support unprecedented levels of remote working and online trading.

Across all industrial and commercial sectors, there are hidden unknowns which are starting to emerge, such as disruption to supply chains, additional costs due to Brexit tariffs, and worryingly, a massive rise in mental health issues, which will have an impact on the labour market. One thing is for sure, tomorrow is certain to be very different – which is why companies must start reframing their future today.

Working on the basis that you will have already taken appropriate steps to right size and stabilise your financial position, here are a few helpful points for emerging from Lockdown 3:

1. What is your position during and after the pandemic?

To make smart strategic decisions, you must understand your organisation’s position in your sector. How has your market changed in the past year? Who are you in your market, what role do you play, and who are your main competitors? You must also understand where you are headed – what direction you are travelling?

Can you shut down your operations and reopen unchanged after the pandemic? Can you regain lost ground? Will you be bankrupt, or can you emerge as a market leader empowered by developments during the lockdown?

For obvious reasons, many firms are questioning their viability post-pandemic, particularly those in the travel, hospitality, and events industries. Some firms are also accelerating their growth because their value propositions are in high demand, such as home office equipment, internet-enabled communication and collaboration tools, and home delivery services.

Because of so many variable factors, firms will differ in their resilience. Companies should take steps now to map out their best position when the pandemic eases.

2. What is your recovery plan?

You need a clear course of action pointing the way to the position you plan to achieve. It should clarify what you need to do today to achieve your objectives tomorrow. In the current context, the question is what you must do to get through the crisis and get back to business when the pandemic ends.

The lack of a plan only exacerbates an already confusing situation. When drawing up the steps you intend to take, think broadly and deeply and take a phased approach to the key steps – short, medium and long term. Don’t hesitate to ask experts for their help.

3. How will your culture and identity change?

In all likelihood, your culture and identity will change as a result of the pandemic. A crisis can bring people together and facilitate a collective spirit of endurance — but it can also push people apart, with individuals distrusting one another and predominantly looking after themselves.

How prepared was your organisation culturally to deal with the crisis? Will the ongoing situation bring your employees together or drive them apart? Will they see the organisation differently when this is over? Your answers will inform what you can achieve when the pandemic ends.

4. What new projects do you need to launch, run, and coordinate?

Your answers to the previous questions should point you to a set of projects for tackling your pandemic related problems. The challenge is to prioritise and coordinate initiatives that will future-proof the organisation.

Beware of starting numerous projects that all depend on the same critical resources, which might be specific individuals, such as top managers, or specific departments such as Procurement. Your resources have probably been depleted during the pandemic, so identify the weak links, and manage them strategically to avoid a clash of interests.

5. How prepared are you to execute your plans and projects?

Finally, you need to assess your organisation’s preparedness. Are you ready and able to accomplish the projects you’ve outlined, particularly if much of your organisation has shifted to remote working?

Auditel has seen big differences in preparedness at the individual, team and organisation levels. The resources at hand, along with the speed and quality of decision-making processes, vary greatly, and the differences will determine who achieves and who falls short of success.

Auditel has created a series of helpful guides and white papers to assist companies with a range of business transformation issues, including cost reduction, supply chain management and better procurement. These are available free of charge on request. They can help you plot your current and future course through these challenging times.

Companies must act today if they are to bounce back in the future and become more resilient in the process.