Pandemic Pivot: Rethinking Your Business Strategies for the “Next Normal”

Rethinking Your Business Strategies for the Next Normal
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Remember the scramble of 2020? Businesses everywhere were forced to hit the brakes, re-evaluate everything, and shift gears faster than a race car driver on Red Bull. Survival became the name of the game, and business strategies were rewritten overnight. But now, as the dust settles and a semblance of normalcy (the “next normal” as some are calling it) emerges, a crucial question arises: are those pandemic pivots still relevant, or is it time for another strategic overhaul?

The answer, like most things in business, isn’t a simple yes or no. Here’s the deal: some pandemic-era strategies are goldmines in the new normal, while others might need a tweak or two (or a complete overhaul). Here are three key areas to consider:

Remote Revolution: Rethinking the 9-to-5 Grind

Remember the days of mandatory office commutes and fluorescent-lit cubicles? The pandemic forced a mass experiment in remote work, and guess what? It turns out a large portion of the workforce can be just as productive (if not more) working from the comfort of their couches (or kitchen tables, as the case may be). According to a study, “output per worker has increased” since the shift to remote work.

This remote revolution presents a golden opportunity for businesses. Business strategies can be adjusted to embrace a hybrid or fully remote model, reducing overhead costs associated with physical office spaces. This flexibility can also be a major perk for attracting and retaining top talent, especially in a competitive job market.

However, a successful remote work strategy requires more than just video conferencing tools. Businesses need to invest in clear communication channels, foster a strong company culture even across geographical distances, and establish boundaries to prevent burnout. Here are some additional considerations:

  • Performance Management: Transitioning to a remote environment requires rethinking performance management practices. Regular check-ins, clear goal setting, and outcome-based evaluations become crucial.

  • Training and Development: Remote employees might need additional training on communication tools and collaboration techniques to ensure smooth workflows.

  • Building Camaraderie: Physical distance shouldn’t translate to emotional distance. Businesses can invest in virtual team-building activities and social events to keep employees connected and maintain a sense of community.

E-commerce Boom: Friend or Foe for Brick-and-Mortar Businesses?

The pandemic saw a surge in online shopping, with a record-breaking 33.8% growth in global e-commerce sales in 2020. This might seem like a death knell for brick-and-mortar stores, but here’s the good news: a strong online presence can actually complement, not compete with, physical stores.

The key lies in creating a seamless omnichannel experience for customers. This means allowing them to research products online, order them for in-store pickup, or even have online purchases delivered directly from your physical store. Business strategies should focus on integrating online and offline channels to create a cohesive and convenient customer journey.

Think of it like this: your online store becomes a digital storefront, attracting customers who can then discover the full range of what you offer by visiting your physical location. This can lead to increased sales and brand loyalty. But the online presence needs to be more than just a digital storefront:

  • Personalized Customer Experiences: Leverage online data to personalize the shopping experience for each customer, both online and in-store. This could involve recommending products based on past purchases or offering targeted promotions.

  • Customer Service Integration: Ensure a seamless customer service experience regardless of whether a customer interacts with your brand online or in person. Offer multiple channels for customer support, such as live chat, email, and phone, and ensure your team is well-trained to handle inquiries efficiently.

  • Inventory Management: Maintain accurate and real-time inventory data across all channels to avoid stockouts and customer disappointment.

Prioritizing Purpose: Beyond the Bottom Line

The pandemic served as a wake-up call for many, prompting a reevaluation of priorities. Consumers are increasingly drawn to brands that stand for something beyond just profit. According to a study, “83% of global consumers say it’s important for companies to behave ethically.”

This shift in consumer behavior presents an opportunity for businesses to integrate purpose into their business strategies. Consider aligning with a social cause you care about, implementing sustainable practices, or even offering flexible work arrangements to promote employee well-being. These efforts not only resonate with today’s conscious consumers but can also attract and retain top talent who value working for a company with a mission.

However, prioritizing purpose goes beyond simply making a charitable donation or slapping a green label on your product.

The pandemic forced businesses to adapt and innovate, and those that embraced change are now well-positioned to thrive in the “next normal.” By carefully evaluating and adapting the business strategies employed during this unprecedented time, businesses can build resilience, attract top talent, and create a positive impact on the world around them. The future belongs to those who can not only navigate change but use it as a springboard to build a better, more sustainable, and purpose-driven future.

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