With infectious disease experts now warning that COVID-19 could become seasonal, the need for social distancing practices may repeat periodically until an effective vaccine is available. While some businesses that were familiar with remote work and had an infrastructure in place to support it were able to adapt, many others faced a learning curve these past few weeks and will need to develop plans to navigate the rest of the initial outbreak and any future outbreaks.
Keeping your business up and running through a heavily disruptive event is a major challenge, especially when partners, key vendors and customers or clients are facing similar challenges. Developing a good continuity plan will help you focus on the most important business activities and determine sources in advance to help you deal with fluctuating changes to staffing needs.
When unprecedented and unpredictable events like the current pandemic occur, it’s hard for leaders to know what to expect for their business. When some or all of the business’s staff is unable or unwilling to come onsite, it can be easy to succumb to feelings of despair and throw your hands up, but it’s important for leaders to have a clear picture of what businesses processes and activities can be conducted remotely.
Knowing which activities are realistic and can contribute to the business’s success during a major disruption provides a clear set of priorities that will help the team move forward. To determine these priorities, it’s helpful to separate normal business activities into three buckets:
- Bucket A should include the essential functions that need to happen for the business to continue running successfully. This is where you should place the majority of your attention, enabling your staff to dedicate their time to the activities that keep revenue coming in and providing the goods or services your customers need.
- Bucket B should include functions that can be curbed for a period of time. This includes business functions that can still happen under social distancing conditions but will require reconfiguring staff or changing up resources to accomplish.
- Bucket C should include functions that cannot be completed under these disruptive conditions. Being honest about business activities that belong in this category will help to avoid wasting limited resources on tasks that are not productive.
Having business activities bucketed into these three categories will allow companies to react quickly when disruptions happen.
Access and Resources
Once leadership clearly outlines the business’s priorities for the period of disruption, it will be important to determine what resources are needed to enable staff to work from their homes or from other off-site locations.
At its most basic level, this means making sure everyone has access to a laptop that includes all the software they need to do their jobs or access to a system they can log into from their own computer to do their work.
Beyond this basic hardware requirement, it’s also important to look at software solutions that will help your team maintain productivity. This includes software for conducting remote meetings, such as Skype or Zoom, and software for assigning and tracking tasks and deliverables, such as Asana, Trello, or the task functions built into Outlook.
This also includes scaling up the business’s online security efforts to limited vulnerability to online attacks while employees are conducting 100% of their daily activities remotely.
Managing Workload Changes
While some companies are experiencing a slowdown, many companies are struggling to keep up with the pace of online orders. For the items in buckets A and B, it may be helpful to tap into a flexible, scalable staffing solution provided by an outside partner who specializes in your line of business.
For example, many of our clients in the Life Sciences and Food and Beverage industries are experiencing an uptick in business. They need additional packaging engineering resources to account for increased demand, to offer expertise, or consult on time-sensitive projects.
While new challenges arise, such as an increased need for anti-counterfeiting features, cold chain packaging development for new products, or access to a new supplier base, hiring a full-time resource doesn’t always make sense. Leveraging consultants that have the required expertise allows companies to have expertise for a defined duration without adding the cost of benefits, training, and other expenses that come with a fulltime engineer.
Most companies are learning daily about the adaptability of their teams. Developing a plan that includes business practice expectations, resources, tools, and partner companies will allow for business continuity in the face of disruption.
How are Companies Leveraging Adept?
While we work with the largest brands in the Life Sciences and Food and Beverage industries, many of our clients are seeing a shift in need. While some need additional resources for their internal teams, others need expertise to respond to their dramatic increase in e-commerce demand.
As companies respond to the financial challenges brought on by the economic shift, our Value Optimization team is helping companies reduce packaging and logistics costs so they can reallocate that money to other areas of the business.
Additionally, we work with most of the top Life Sciences companies, many of which are looking to quickly get their products into trials and to market to combat the pandemic. Our engineers are leveraged to source, engineer and qualify packaging quickly to ensure the progress of these trials.
If your company is experiencing a change in need due to current circumstances, we have a diverse team comprised of over 100 packaging engineers with 60+ niche areas of expertise to find the solution. Contact us.