Just a few months ago, no one would have expected the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on small businesses. Working procedures and lines of operation shifted or completely reconfigured overnight.
As the dust continues to settle, many companies are wondering how to adapt to the “new normal” going forward. There have been many surprising changes over the past four months, and small businesses are discovering unexpected strengths that came from the sudden shift.
Smart, adaptable businesses will take these hard-won lessons and use them to make their operations stronger. So, what are the most important insights small businesses have gained from this pandemic?
1. Remote Work Can Be Productive
Remote working has been regarded as the future of the workforce for quite some time now. It’s no surprise that remote work is becoming so popular in a world where Cloud software, digital nomads, and remote collaboration programs exist.
Yet, many businesses have been slow to embrace this new way of working, despite it being a great way to attract Millennial and Gen Z talent who value work-life balance as one of the top attributes of a desirable job.
Now, with the advent of COVID-19, businesses of all sizes have had to find a way to accelerate home working (with mixed results). Not only is flexible working highly sought after by workers, but there is growing evidence that shows home-based workers have some of the highest levels of productivity and job satisfaction.
Remote work really can be a win-win situation, as long as you have the right software and IT management to support it. Making sure you have collaborative working solutions, project management programs, and file sharing applications is the key to optimizing work-from-home solutions.
2. Innovation Is Always Around the Corner
As the pace of technological advancements has increased, so have market conditions.
Now is the first time that small, agile businesses can actually have an edge over large corporations. The COVID-19 crisis has changed innovation from a luxury into a necessity for businesses of all sizes.
Whether it’s adapting business plans, changing supply chains, or altering products, innovation isn’t just a competitive edge, it’s a business imperative. Shifting needs mean new solutions are required to help you keep delivering in challenging times.
These solutions can come in the form of creative marketing strategies, specialized software, new communication channels and processes, and innumerable other angles. The possibilities are endless!
3. Training is the Key to IT Security
Although many businesses have finally improved their relationships with technology, the COVID-19 pandemic has exposed critical issues with IT security. COVID-19 has caused a surge in incidents of cybercrime that coincide with a time of relatively low data security due to frequently shifting working conditions.
Without proper training, your employees actually pose the most significant threat to your business. Since 24% of data breaches are caused by human error rather than hacking, it’s important for all employees to learn the basics of data protection.
This threat level can be lowered with proper IT training, which helps workers identify threats, choose secure passwords, and educate themselves about the dangers of seemingly harmless activities like using unsecured Wi-Fi networks.
Keeping all software up to date, including spam filtering, secure firewalls, and anti-malware, is vital in keeping your business data secure.
Many companies find that maintaining all facets of their cybersecurity is too much to do on their own. This task can be especially overwhelming for small businesses that lack a full IT department. But an experienced Managed Service Provider can help businesses of all sizes maintain their remote cybersecurity with managed IT services that monitor and protect sensitive data and systems 24/7.
4. Be Prepared For Everything
COVID-19 has unpredictably impacted every aspect of life. A valuable lesson that many have taken from this is that they need contingency plans in place for every scenario.
A professional IT provider can help simplify and direct a company’s business continuity plan. Although it’s possible to predict the future, with the right preparation, you can put yourself in a better situation to weather the next crisis when it comes.
For example, essential functions for your business such as remote invoicing and payroll are made possible with the right technological tools. When you have non-negotiable functions ready ahead of time, there’s no need to scramble when disaster strikes.
5. Maintain Your Online Presence
The online presence of your business becomes critical in a time of crisis. Remote maintenance of web presence and social media channels has enabled businesses stay connected with customers, partners, suppliers and investors.
Moving forward, many companies will continue to invest in website development with high accessibility standards to ensure a smooth hosting provision with minimal downtime.
If you take the time now to learn from the current crisis and make your systems and processes better because of it, you can prepare your business for future growth and against future disasters.