The new reality for many businesses is virtual, distributed and socially distanced. As leaders seek funding to provide liquidity, Oliver Bridge explains that many are also realising where their operational and technical weaknesses lie.
Working from home, virtual communication and social distancing have become the norm rather than the exception. We have spoken to a variety of businesses during our COVID-19 diagnostic workshops, webinars and informal chats, and a few themes have emerged.
Three-quarters of the businesses we've spoken to believe their post-COVID-19 business will look different to their pre-COVID-19 business, and a third of these feel that their business will change significantly. As such, business readiness and, therefore, resilience is of the utmost importance to allow for optimum business continuity.
Assess, protect and restore
Through these conversations, we've been able to understand businesses’ readiness through our three-stage process of assess, protect and restore. This is where businesses felt they were at following a recent webinar:
- Assessing the situation with data to identify and prioritise issues - 20%
- Protecting the business by making agile decisions - 74%
- Restoring business-as-usual according to a suitable plan that challenges current commercial and operating assumptions - 7%
The number of our clients in the "protect" and "restore" phases were higher than we expected. When combining these statistics together, we believe that business planning will generate a lot of management activity in the next few months, requiring constant updates with new scenarios.
Around half of our clients want to understand how they can access both government and private funding to support their liquidity position. In preparation, many are building cashflow models and incorporating different scenarios, most of which anticipate both a three- and six-month disruption.
Meanwhile, some businesses are taking immediate actions to reduce costs, including leveraging the government’s furlough scheme and contacting landlords to discuss temporary rental agreements. For some, the situation has revealed the weak points in their operating model, particularly their heavy reliance on presenteeism in the workplace. For others, it has highlighted the lack of investment in building technological capabilities to allow for employees to work at home and stay in touch with customers and clients. Many businesses have recognised that, given the right technological tools, lean and agile operations and workforce, and effective communication, they can still very much thrive with limited physical interaction. Of course, every business is different, and all businesses will need to take a holistic view of their operations to determine the areas of focus and essential actions they need to take.