The world has changed a lot in the last 4 months. The biggest change is that people are doing different things now. 5 months ago I am not sure I would have know what you were talking about if you mentioned “Social Distancing”. Now it is part of our normal vocabulary.

People have changed in two very different ways. Understanding these differences is critical to businesses getting ready to reopen. There are many things that we are doing out of caution. We now social distancing, we wear masks, we don’t shake hands or hug outside of our immediate family. Eventually, when ever that is, we will again become comfortable doing those things again. These behaviors will “return to normal”.

People have also been encouraged or forced into trying new things. Restaurant carryout, telemedicine, virtual home sales and of course working from home are things that come to mind. Many of us, may not have used some of these services before, or not as much as we are now. Many of us have decided that these new behaviors are not so bad after all. These things will never go back to “normal” because we prefer them.

As businesses open up, they need to realize that it is not as simple as just turning on the sign and doing what we used to do. I hear companies on the news claiming that they will have to go out of business. My recommendation to them is to closely explore what their customers and employees will need in the future. If they don’t adapt to the new world they may struggle, but if they adapt they have a better chance of being even more successful than prior to the pandemic.

The first step is to revisit their Vision. How have their customers’ and employees’ expectations changed? How do they need to adapt to the new world? Can they still be effective with 80% of their employees working from home? Can they deliver their product in a ‘touchless’ manner.

Once they understand how their world has changed, how do they need to change to best adapt? I worked for a consulting firm where most of their employees were either at the client site or at home. They were able to significantly reduce office space costs by “hoteling”. Will more businesses be doing that? How will that effect the managers of commercial office space? Will restaurants need to improve their on-line ordering systems? What changes will you need to make in your business?

Once the Vision is clear, they will need to decide the new strategies they will need to implement to achieve the vision.

Next comes an assessment of your employee base. Do you have the correct set of skills and competencies to meet your new challenges? For some industries this may be a small adaptation, but others may require bigger changes. Can you retrain your current workforce?

Each small business owner, including myself with an employee base of 1, must carefully reflect on how they will reopen and go forward.

Do you have a different point of view? I would love to hear your thoughts.

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