What is your new business “normal”?: Some things to reflect on before you head back to “business as usual”

“Business-as-usual”, to put it lightly, has taken on a whole new meaning in 2020-2021.

Companies have had to mobilize with online platforms, some ran out of supply, some closed their doors. Whether you initiated budget-cuts, or hired to meet the surge, business owners are bracing themselves for yet another change as restrictions lift.

But before shifting back to what we all call “normal”, take stock of what has changed over the past year for your business.

1. Have you adopted aspects of other business models that are beneficial to you?

For example:

· Did you realize you can operate better with less inventory, and now are running more lean?

· Were you over-staffed and never realized you could actually operate at the same productivity level with fewer people?

· Did you hire external skill and expertise that you need to keep around for a while longer?

· Do you have a plan and process in place if your business ever had to return to an online work environment?

2. Will you mandate a full return to in-person office workspaces, or adopt a hybrid model?

Though remote workers were once more commonly linked with tech industry jobs, through the pandemic, jobs that were normally considered “office jobs” successfully went online.

Chief economist, Adam Ozimek of freelancing platform, Upwork, states that due to “shifting priorities, business needs and changing budgets, many [businesses] have recognized advantages of more flexible ways of working.” Ozimek found that, “On average, 22.9% of workers across all “traditional industries” were remote as of January, 2021.”

In March of this year, Harvard Business School research contributor, Dina Gerdeman said, “The workplace as we used to know it, quite frankly, is dead.” Employers will be responsible for prioritizing face time at the office, and for having more honest conversations with their employees to find out how they want to work. This will require more flexible, hybrid work models to prosper.

On the other hand, hanging on to company culture, among other things, is harder when people are dispersed, and working from home.

3. What does your post-pandemic team look like?

If you are hiring, now, to meet the surge of business that might come with the removal of restrictions, what does that look like when the pace of business normalizes? Will you hire short-term contractors? Temporary positions?

There will be the question of budget, and whether to bring back those who have been laid off, or to hire contractors instead.

Reasons employers choose contractors:

One of the main reasons employers/business owners choose contractors is they often cost less than an employee. Employment insurance, benefits, and pension contributions made by employers adds up, and these are not usually part of the contractor deal. They can also bring in a new range of expertise, which is never a bad thing, especially when it comes to a budget re-org, or anything creative or tech-related.

Reasons to stick with in-house employees:

According to the balance small business blog, employees are more likely, or have more opportunity to buy into company culture, and they can provide continuity of service—for example, in your customer-facing interactions, the same name and familiar face provides value.

No question, business owners will face new challenges after a very tough year, and it’s a good time to reflect, as well as move on.

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