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Prepping for Post-Pandemic and the Next Event

It’s safe to say that the current pandemic caught most everyone by surprise. However, you may be surprised to learn that just since 1955, there have been 13 major pandemics or epidemics. Infectious disease outbreaks unfortunately occur with a fair amount of regularity. While we can’t know when the next outbreak will happen, we can make preparations to help minimize the effects on our businesses and organizations. The best plans are developed prior to an emergency. We currently are in the middle of two scenarios:the tail-end of a pandemic and the ramping up for the return of in-person business.  

As is evident from the current pandemic, federal, state, and local governments have a playbook on how to manage outbreaks. Many of the elements of these plans can, and will, disrupt business if we aren’t prepared to handle them. If it is foreseen that a disease outbreak will spread rapidly, then aggressive containment efforts will be put in place, including travel restrictions, curfews, and the stay-at-home orders. These efforts will disrupt businesses greatly.

Supply Chain Management
If your organization depends on certain items to stay operational, you may want to invest some time, effort, and money into creating a supply stockpile. As we witnessed this past year, even such mundane things as toilet paper and paper towels were nearly impossible to obtain for a while. The housing sector saw huge drops in the availability of lumber. Price increases for lumber are currently sitting at 118%. Appliances are in short supply due to layoffs at manufacturing facilities. Many office buildings and apartment complexes still can’t get certificates of occupancy due to the lack of necessary supplies.

Tech - Prep
As we have seen during our current circumstances, early tech adopters have fared pretty well during the COVID pandemic. Companies and businesses that already had the capability to transition to a work-from-home went on with life fairly seamlessly. Those organizations that did not have these options had to play catch-up. What’s very important in all of this is how well you communicate via your website, social media platforms, and even email. The better you can let the people that rely on you know what’s going on, the more likely they are to continue to support you. No one likes to be left in the dark. One maxim that always works is to try to answer questions before they are asked.  

Now that we’ve seen what can and has happened, we can be a little more prepared the next time an event like this occurs.

Welcoming People Back
As the pandemic is winding down in many areas, the metrics are trending positively, and at least three vaccines are being rolled out.  The flip side now is that we must prepare for return to normal business operations. How will this best be achieved?
First of all, we may need to prepare OURSELVES for a return to the workplace. Evaluate your own risk. Are you particularly susceptible to some of the more dangerous results from COVID due to comorbidities? Do you smoke? Are you overweight? Do you have kidney disease or asthma? Any of these conditions should give you pause about when to start working with the public again. The best course of action is to consult your primary care physician and ask the appropriate questions.

Here are a few suggestions for repopulating your organization:

Your most important audience is the members of your team. Our job as leaders is to make sure that we confidently let people know that they are critical pieces of our recovery plans. Step up the frequency and transparency of communications.

Stay in touch with your clientele. Take advantage of social media, emails, and any loyalty programs you may have. Share what you are doing to help your employees and what your plans for recovery are. Find ways to thank your clients for their support and loyalty through the pandemic. One important aspect to think about for this topic is tech-clutter. Many organizations will be having the same “reach-out” strategy. Make sure you plan to focus creative energy on standing out from everyone else. Maybe reach out to local media outlets and offer a story about how your organization weathered this storm.

Discuss return-to-work scenarios that may be affected by government mandates. We know life will return to normal, but how will it do so? Will we be segmented by age, risk profile, or whether we’ve received a vaccine or not? Discuss those scenarios internally and what that might look like. Might it be a hybrid work-from-home and back-to-office strategy?

Although many of us have spent a considerable amount of time working from home, it’s been anything but stress-free. Now that many parts of the country are beginning to reopen, it might be a good time to plan that vacation that got cancelled for 2020. We all need to recharge and reset. Start planning for some time away and encourage those you work with to do the same. Sometimes you need to take time to sharpen the saw.

We’ve all been through a lot in the past year. Now is the time to learn from what has happened and to prepare for what is to come.