Businesses in Alberta, across Canada and around the world have been operating in this new normal brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic for some time now. There are a lot of factors likely impacting your business as a result, including government restrictions, decreased consumer demands, the implications of physical distancing and many more.

As we begin to see restrictions lift and the very early signs of economic recovery, now’s the time to consider how your business can not only get back to operating as it used to, but also to consider how your business has and can evolve, and what changes you’ve made that you may want to keep around.

Here are some considerations to help your business’s ongoing COVID-19 response.

1. Be proactive and flexible

If we've learned anything over the past year, it's that this situation is dynamic. While there has never been a sure thing in business, this pandemic has taken change to a whole new level. It’s now especially clear that being prepared with a solid business continuity plan in place is important. Prior to the pandemic this may have been something that you put off or hadn’t reviewed in some time. Your plan will clarify and mobilize critical processes such as reporting structure, health, safety measures and more. The Government of Alberta has helpful business continuity plan resources.

Once these procedures are in place, focus on looking ahead at what is (or might be) coming next. Centralizing decision-making is crucial to allow your business to respond quickly. Build in the flexibility required to keeping pivoting when necessary.

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2. Reallocate labour where it's needed most

Your organization's needs have changed from what they were even a week ago depending on the size of your business, the way it's structured or the industry you're in. You may have individuals or entire teams whose normal duties are no longer urgent, or in some cases even possible to perform.

Look for opportunities to redeploy labour to areas of your business that need extra support. This is particularly important if you’ve decided to keep some of the changes you’ve made (more on this in point 3). There have been great examples of businesses who have chosen to pivot and modify operations only to realize a new or unanticipated source of demand for their services. These new operating models require different levels of staff support.

3. Is curbside pickup or online fulfillment right for your business in the long-term?

One thing the pandemic has done for many businesses is fast-track their plans to enhance their distributions channels. Offering online services, curbside pickup, free delivery or appointment-based bookings may be a change worth keeping. Your business can offer these services with help from your financial institution, who can set you up with digital payment solutions that fit your needs.

If you already distribute online, consider offering free shipping and highlight secure payment options to encourage customers who may still hesitate to transact digitally.

4. Use social media to connect

If you've yet to fully embrace the power of social media, now's the time. You can use social media as a tool to support employee and customer engagement, as well as to connect with other businesses.

Social media use has surged, making this a great time to leverage social media to reach out to organizations in your community and possibly develop new partnerships. Social media can be used to establish your business's voice, and to connect with customers who have become accustomed to doing their shopping online. There is a lot of noise in this space, so having a well-thought-out social media plan (there are great planning resources in the “help” sections of every platform) will help you be concise and deliver your message in an authentic way.

5. Be ready for recovery when it comes

Reality today won’t be our reality forever — recovery will come. As we begin to see early indicators of recovery it’s important to be prepared. Have a candid conversation with your financial advisor about your immediate and long-term plans for your business. Discuss how they can help you position your business for success. It's still too soon to tell exactly when Alberta will be in full recovery mode but having a plan and the right tools in place to help get your business back to normal (or at least new normal) will be critical as recovery ramps up.

It's impossible to understand the lasting effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, but one thing is certain — we're in this together and Servus is standing by you every step of the way. Reach out to us anytime at 1.877.378.8728.

Originally posted on April 22, 2020.