So we created this guide to give you 6 actionable steps to get your business in the best possible position during the restart. To recover that damage and get back to normal operating capacity – or as close to that as possible – as quickly as possible.
To grab this guide in a handy pdf, download it here.
All the best for your recovery, we’re here to help 🙂
Step 1: Improve Your Processes
Lockdown was the perfect time to update and improve your processes. If you didn’t jump at that opportunity the next best time is right now.
There’s always room for improvement in business processes. Whether it’s streamlining the office or the field, opportunities to save money, time or effort should be continuously pursued.
Coronavirus lockdowns made it easy – there wasn’t much else to do!
The wheels are rolling again and we’re facing renewed business operations in an uncertain environment. So we’ll have to prioritise and steadily build momentum.
Take it slow and improve one step at a time.
Whatever you do, don’t expect to carry on as you were and survive the new normal. Things are going to be lean for a while, and the best place to start is your processes. If you can refine them to the point where you’re running at maximum efficiency, your waste will be near 0. That lack of waste will show up in your bottom line, allowing you to survive this period with ease and grace.
The important thing is to start somewhere. Take the first step, and keep pushing forward from there.
Thereafter you can move to your field sales teams, production teams, maintenance teams, etc. Just keep on trying to make small improvements to your processes every day.
Step 2: Cut Paper Where You Can
Going paperless is a big COVID-era theme here at Appenate. We’ve always been advocates for paperless systems – they help save the rainforests, don’t they?
But it’s more than that – more than fighting deforestation; more than fighting global warming.
It’s about improving the way we do things. Not to cut down on paper for the sake of it, but to improve our workflow and efficiency. Besides being a possible carrier for COVID-19, paper has other issues too…
1. It’s Dirty
Paper touches a lot of things on a daily basis. Mostly hands – dirty, for all we know. When last did person X wash those hands? Where did they drop the paper before they handed it to you?
Honestly, it’s a game of Russian Roulette we’d prefer not to play. Keeping things digital is far more hygienic.
2. It’s Inefficient
Paper can be convenient. We get that. It’s easier to flip through a paper report at times than scroll through a digital one – if only to get away from the screen for a bit.
But what about bigger reports? You can’t sort and filter those on paper. You can’t quick-search for certain keyphrases. Are your current reports limited due to paper constraints? Could you have more information in your reports if they were digital and easy to navigate?
There are also printed job cards, safety inspections, etc. These have to be filled out by hand, then handed over to the next person. Which means travel and contact.
And when you need your field workers to complete paperwork, they need to make the trip to the office, cutting valuable time out of their day.
Both reasons to replace paper with digital – and limit both travel and contact for maximum safety and productivity.
3. It’s A Storage Space Hog
Paper loves to take up storage space. It’s subtle at first, only taking up a bit of office space. No big deal, right? Eventually, it gets moved to a storage room. Before you know it, the storage room is bursting at the seams.
Now it’s time to decide. Are you going to sacrifice more office space, or will you destroy some of the paper?
I mean, who’s going to go digging through those archives for stuff? They’re a mess! It’ll take a whole day to find something specific.
The proverbial needle in the haystack. Only this haystack wastes valuable office space.
4. It Goes To Waste At The End Of The Day
What happens when you decide to get rid of some of the paper? It ends up in a boiler somewhere. Or, worst case, it ends up in the ocean or at the dump.
The paper that took up so much space for so long. That you always thought you ‘might need’ someday, yet never did. Those old, dusty reports eventually just got thrown out – but not before making a giant nuisance of themselves.
As luck would have it, a day after you’ve thrown out your paper stacks, an audit pops around and you need one of the maintenance reports you sent to the recycling bay.
All The Benefits Without The Chaos
What if you could store these reports and captured data, which could save your butt or win a court case someday, on the cloud? All the reports you’ve been saving – a whole storage room full – on a network of high-end disk drives somewhere far away and secure.
No fire, disk failure or computer crash can take your data away from you.
And when you need it, it’s a few clicks away.
Going paperless has never made more sense. The first step is just one click away.
Step 3: Limit Your Liability
When it comes to liability in the COVID era, there’s still a fair bit of uncertainty. The chances are this will persist for some time.
Regardless of liability, you’ll want to keep your employees safe. That act in itself should insulate you from taking any losses in court.
Here are a few ideas that can both keep your employees safe and limit your liability in the post-lockdown phase.
1. Daily Screening
Daily screening of all your employees should be conducted. Ideally, this would be a self-screening from home, since we’re trying to cut down on physical contact.
If you only have a few employees, an email or quick phone call would suffice. But what if you have 5, 10 or over 50?
That’s where an employee self-screening app could come in major handy. One like we’ve already created for you in our examples catalogue – it’s a simple download away once you get Appenate.
2. Daily Cleaning
The days where we could get away with one or two deep cleans a month are gone. At the very least, we’ll have to disinfect our premises weekly. Even daily, if feasible.
In terms of legal liability, simply cleaning isn’t enough. You’ve got to collect and store proof of your cleaning efforts. Again, we want to avoid paper as much as we can. Which is why an old-fashioned cleaning sheet pinned up to the back of a bathroom door won’t do.
Here’s where a digital task creation and storage solution (like Appenate) comes in major handy.
You can easily create a checklist to send out to your cleaners every day. They simply open up the checklist on their device and follow the steps. Once done, they sign and submit the checklist, and all the information is securely stored on the cloud.
So whenever you need the information, it’s a few clicks away.
3. Screening Stations
You’ll want to limit office traffic as much as possible – more on that later. It’s inevitable, however, that you still have some office traffic after we’ve all returned to work.
To help lower the risk of infection and liability to your employees and business alike, it could be wise to set up screening stations at the entrances to your premises. That way you can control who’s let in – and keep those with symptoms out until they’ve been tested.
An asymptomatic cough or sneeze could still spread the virus within your premises, but you’ll be doing all you can, right?
With your exposure to liability at a minimum, it might be a good time to reassess your health policies too.
Step 4: New Policies For A New World
You’re in one of two camps concerning health policies right now. Either everything happened too fast and you haven’t had time to change them, or they were hastily changed and now need to be revised.
Either way, you’ll know that communicating those policy changes is the biggest challenge.
Here’s where we need to take another step towards modernization and create a central storage location where anyone can access the policies at any time.
This takes a huge burden off of your channels of communication – and those in charge of them.
Appenate can help as a storage solution, but we’ll be more useful in the actual communication of policy changes. A task can be created and sent out to area leaders, supervisors, etc. They can then communicate the changes to their respective areas.
Step 5: Shift To Contactless Work
Whether you have workers in the field, factory or office, your focus should be on limiting contact.
The idea of the paperless office cropped up as early as the 70s. Recent events, however, have made the “paperless office” morph into the “contactless office”. Instead of saving the rainforests, we’re saving the human race (if you’ll allow me to be over-dramatic for a second).
There are many components that make up the contactless office. Each of us will have to explore these options on our own to decide what’s best for us.
Here are a few ideas to help get you started though.
1. Staff-Operated Kitchens
Shared kitchens are convenient. Right now, however, they’re a prime spreading ground for disease. The simplest way to deal with this is to close down communal kitchens – which isn’t ideal. We all know that one person who would die if they couldn’t get their caffeine fix at work.
Another solution would be to have staff members operate these kitchens. They can take orders, store food in the fridge for people and generally keep everyone happy. They can also disinfect everything going in or out of the kitchen, thereby limiting potential exposure.
Again, it’s not 100%, but it’s another small way to fight COVID-19.
2. No More Contact From The Field
Fieldworkers often need to come into the office to file paperwork, attend meetings or complete their admin. Clearly, this is an unwise way to move forward.
Our field workers – especially in the field of sales – are most at risk of contracting the virus. They come in contact with a lot of people on a daily basis. While we can limit their risk of infection with contactless procedures, we can’t eliminate the risk entirely.
Which is why we should have remote work options in place. Why take the additional risk of your field workers coming into the office?
Platforms like Appenate can be used for job dispatch and the capturing of all relevant information. All digitally and without physical contact – from the field to the office in minutes.
That way your field workers can stay in the field and get more work done – while your office workers keep productive while minimizing the risk of spreading infection.
You’ll also need a solution like this in order to track who was on site and when. So that if you or a client has a confirmed COVID case, you can easily find those who may have been exposed.
3. Workplace Sanitisation
Standard job cards all need to change hands pretty quickly. Especially in workplaces where we share tools.
We have a simple solution – an extra task added to all tasks and job cards: “Sanitize the tools”
The thing is, we can add so much more. What about a reminder to not touch our face until we’ve washed our hands properly? What about a wipe-down with disinfectant as part of our pre-work inspection?
The more fail-safes we can add to our system, the less likely we’ll see the return of hard lockdown. Or worse… the loss of employee lives.
4. Contactless Signatures
Imagine being able to sign a document without touching it. Sure, we have signature capture devices these days. Yet even then we’re touching something physically.
We mean with no physical contact at all.
Our contactless signatures feature is our way of making the post-lockdown world a safer place. And while at the time of writing it’s not quite finalized yet, the launch is scheduled for June.
The idea is to use a scanning system to completely eliminate the need to touch something physically in order to sign it. That way we minimize the risk of not only contracting COVID-19 but all infectious diseases.
Influenza, colds, sniffles and more can all be minimized by a 100% contactless system – and that’s what we’re striving for. Looking beyond the current pandemic, if we can minimize disease we can maximize productivity.
So… why not?
5. Take Meetings Online
Cut your office traffic and move towards contactless work at the same time with remote meetings. Faster internet speeds and video calling technology is far more convenient than conference calling technology of the past (for those of you who were around to remember the early tech).
If you’re tackling long, gruelling meetings, Skype might be the better option, as there’s no time limit (last we checked) on conference calls.
If, on the other hand, you’d like to keep your meetings short, Zoom is a good option. The free plan only allows meetings to run to 40 minutes. Great for when you have meetings that often end up longer than they should be.
That 10-minute warning can really come in handy to speed things up.
Microsoft’s offering – Microsoft Teams – might also be worth a look if you like their products. I’ve never personally used Teams, though it has text chat, file storage, video meetings and all the rest just like the others.
I’ve heard good things, so I’m including Teams for you here to check out.
Step 6: Assess Your New Market
There’s an obvious shift in the market in many industries. A lot has changed.
That’s why it’s of critical importance to reassess your market. Right now, only one thing is clear: the market you’re used to no longer exists.
For example, if you’re running a service-based business, you might find that some clients no longer accept paper. Maybe they don’t want physical contact with outsiders anymore. Etc.
So you’ll have to change tactics a little. That’s where our future contactless signature feature will be useful. You could also use a contactless pin number to sign off on jobs, collect packages, etc.
If you have a physical product, it’s a great time to create an eCommerce store. Or at least list your product on an existing store.
If you’re running an essential services business, you’ve probably seen a boom during this time. If you’re running an elective business, however, your market just got smaller. You’re in for a lot more competition – and hence business processes will have to become more efficient if you’re going to thrive.
Governments all around the world will be offering stimulus and re-investing into infrastructure. Where could you fit in when this market expands? How can you offer your services or product in a way that would fit government requirements?
All these points need to be thought out and researched from your own businesses’ viewpoint. So you can be sure you’ll find your new market as everything shifts – and not get left behind for good in the “new normal.”
It’s also important to turn your analysis of the market introspective. What’ll happen closer to home? You’ll be spending more on cleaning and PPE.
How will this affect your budgets? How will you limit additional costs – or where will you cut costs to better cover these new ones?
Stay Positive And Keep At It
Work through the above steps and use them as a base to create an action plan for your business.
Use this action plan to keep your employees aligned and your business on track. Slip ups during this period could mean the death of your business.
So stay positive, stay focused, and aim to thrive – not only survive.
Bonus Step: Make Use Of Any Relief You Can Get
We have customers and readers all over the world. So to make a complete list of what to do in each country to get relief would make this guide impractically long.
These relief plans are also rapidly changing – so what we publish today might not be available tomorrow.
So instead, you’ll have to find your country’s current relief efforts. Look at all your available options, and apply for anything and everything that you qualify for.
This does not make you a beggar. Or a charity case. Or anything like that. Everyone’s in the same boat..
Governments are offering this relief for a reason. Because without businesses like yours, they couldn’t exist. They couldn’t pay their wages. They couldn’t run a country.
So take the relief they’re offering you now. For tomorrow, you’ll be the one scratching their backs again.
Don’t turn your nose up at relief. It could just save your businesses’ life and employees’ livelihoods.
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