Reshaping your business to the new normal post lockdown

May 20, 2020

It has been almost two months since the lockdown was imposed, restricting all economic activity and mobility across India. While there are still uncertainties as to what lies ahead, it is time to prepare ourselves with what life might look like post lockdown.

Every crisis brings unforeseen and unexpected opportunities. It also tests the resilience of enterprises and the speed at which we can adapt to the evolving “new normal.”

However, with the unprecedented nature and widespread consequences of coronavirus, a lot is left to our imagination on what the future will bring. Businesses today are scrambling to put in place a business continuity plan anticipating every scenario from the best possible to the worst to prepare themselves for what is coming next.

So, I thought of penning down a few things I believe businesses should focus on as they gear up their operations for the post-lockdown phase.

Focus on gaining control over cash flows

Cash is the first and the most crucial lifeline for every business. Once your business operations resume, bounce back and commence business as soon as possible to ensure the cash starts to come in. Use available financing tools such as Supply Chain Finance to convert as many receivables as possible into cash quickly.

The demand for your offerings may or may not go back to the pre-corona levels any time soon. Innovate and improvise to realign your products or services to the current demand to improve cashflows. Continue keeping a tight control on your expenses to maintain adequate liquidity in the business.

Find sustainable social distancing options at the workplace

While there may be relaxation in the lockdown to resume manufacturing and economic activities, social distancing is here to stay. At least until a vaccine or a cure is identified for the virus.

Ensure that the office space is only utilized for essential business and try to go digital as much as possible. Minimize physical contact by allowing a limited number of employees to work from the office or resume operations on a shift basis to ensure the safety of your employees.

Restrict face-to-face meetings and visitors to your premises to the bare minimum necessary for survival.

Plan for contingencies

While business operations might resume soon, remember that the battle against the virus is only halfway done. Several countries have reported a second wave of infections, and India would be no different once the lockdown is lifted.

Ensure your business is prepared to face the onslaught of another lockdown. Put in place standard operating procedures for your workforce to continue working remotely, provide laptops for critical employees, and ensure financial preparedness to brace the storm, among other measures.

Go Digital

One thing is clear for sure, the old ways of business may not work in the future. Consumer and social behaviours will change to become much more conservative and cautious. There will be more emphasis on digitalization and contactless solutions.

Dependence on the traditionally physical mode of sourcing and distribution of products has brought many businesses to a standstill. As much as possible, look for ways to market and supply your product digitally. Where going online isn’t a possibility, find out areas such as invoicing to customers, collection of receivables, etc. so that they can be executed digitally with minimum manual intervention. This approach will free up the bandwidth of your resources to focus on core commercial activities instead.

People first

While everyone’s resources are stretched, to the extent possible, try putting your most critical resources – people – first. Optimize your resources to help maintain your workforce as much as possible. Irrespective of whether that’s possible or not, communicate openly and keep employees in the loop for what’s coming next.

Needless to say, the upcoming months are going to be an uphill battle for businesses, especially for small businesses, and start-ups still in the growth phase. In such times it's important to focus on being resilient and prepare your business for every possible eventuality.