Reflect, Then Plan Although one of the worst economic years is almost behind us, it’s not quite over. Though many businesses started to adjust their operations to be remote for a few months, those months turned into several months; here we are on the cusp of a year. That said, planning ahead for continued growth moving into 2021 demands steady-handed navigation of people, place, and process. A post-COVID-19 climate appears to be around the corner, but diligent business ops should be considered until we land on a new normal. People Planning In one of our previous blog posts, we discussed Remote Hiring in the Time of COVID-19. Our company was (and is) still growing; remote hiring processes have been necessary to implement throughout the course of this pandemic and we still utilize those tactics today. Until we’re able to sit down in a coffee shop and chat face-to-face again, this will be the way. Businesses should identify the best plan for virtual recruitment in addition to adopting a virtual onboarding process well into the middle of 2021 to set expectations for your leadership and recruits. On the other end of this coin, many businesses are downsizing and having to either lay off staff, keep a skeleton crew, or hire contractors on a short-term basis—what we refer to as staff augmentation. Staff augmentation makes sense for many companies because they have the flexibility to stop and start the engagement at any point if they are financially hit. Read more about leveraging staff augmentation in this recent article we published in The Staffing Stream online publication. A Sense of Place A vital piece of every organization is corporate culture. Based on this last year alone, you may have already begun implementing virtual hangouts for your team, virtual company-wide summits, and have shared a few distanced-meetings in a park or outdoor restaurant. If you have been doing these things, AWESOME (but please stay safe). These types of interactions, even in a virtual setting, will continue to foster company spirit, team bonding, encouragement and positivity. Several teams in our company have virtual office hours—where the whole team jumps into a Google Meet and just works quietly for one hour, leaving the mic and camera on for any collaboration or unplanned project discussions. Some teams have taken to virtual cocktail hours after the workday; where each team member makes a cocktail or mocktail at home and we chat and laugh about anything other than work via video conference. The point is, don’t stop your normal, scheduled company events—just make them virtual. We managed to coordinate an entire company summit via Zoom, complete with entertainment, deck presentations and speakers. If Salesforce’s Dreamforce can do it, anybody can do it. (And we did it successfully!) Work and Mental Wellness I think we can safely conclude that globally, nobody had a fantastic time during this pandemic while trying to navigate our home lives and the workplace. So it goes without saying that maintaining mental health and wellness during this trying time has been a struggle for many. Business owners should consider implementing an additional Employee Assistance Program (or EAP) that provides support for employees. These types of value-added benefits offer endless resources to team members struggling at home with mental wellness, finances, and even litigation. Truly, the humans in your organization are the most important assets you have. Making sure they have resources to be well reflects well in their work and the end work product. Happy people create happy work products. Technology to Aid in Process The last integral piece we’ll be discussing to help you prepare your business for 2021 is technology—this is our favorite topic for obvious reasons. But businesses should begin to assess if the digital tools they had in place the last eight months have been effective. In a previous blog post Technology Has Changed the Game for Working Remote, we discussed how to pivot gracefully to a remote work environment and listed digital tools to have in place to be successful. The most basic of those tools is hardware essentials, such as a laptop, mobile phone and internet access. As we move forward into Q1 of 2021, that hasn’t changed. Incommunicado Did the communication and collaboration tools you had in place for 2020 work well over the last year? If they didn’t, consider switching to platforms like Slack, Twitch or Microsoft Teams. If there’s one piece you’re considering in this entire write up, it should be better ways to communicate while remote. It’s the foundation for how you work and interact and it could make or break your workflow and processes. This same type of consideration should also be applied to your customers? Should you add a video component to your existing web app? How about a chat feature? Connection with your customers is key to building recurring revenue. Why, CRMs? Speaking of processes, if your paper workflows didn’t work for you in 2020, consider automating your organization with a CRM like Salesforce. Digitizing will help reduce paper, smooth workflows and basically sets you up for success in a remote work environment. It also gives a 360-degree view to your entire leadership. Additionally, in industries such as manufacturing, CRMs enable better insight into supply/chain issues, such as inventory levels, delivery status and demand cycles. This increased visibility helps reduce unnecessary risk and costs related to issues like excessive inventory. Custom Technology Many business owners may want to consider supplementing their business with a mobile application, online marketplace website, or a custom application that gives them more digital visibility on the world wide web now that physical marketplaces had to close their doors to foot traffic. We may see more lockdowns in Q1 of 2021, so this direction would be effective in helping to maintain an online brand presence while physical doors are staying closed. Staying Secure As workplaces have pivoted to remote operational models, we’re seeing an uptick in concerns over online security. It takes multiple platforms to communicate with a remote team—Salesforce, GSuite, Slack, Basecamp, Monday.com; these are all platforms that need to obviously stay secure from outside breaches or data hacks. Be sure you consider the tools you have and consult a security analyst about vulnerabilities to keep your proprietary information strictly yours. And don’t forget about all the phenomenal personal devices that live in our homes that record conversations in an attempt to better serve us. Should they be listening to all your business calls? Buckle Up for 2021 We truly have no idea what’s in store for us in 2021, so we need to prepare now. We’ve been able to glean some insight from the last 8-10 months from pivoting our home lives and our digital tools to live and work. We should take note and adjust or improve what’s already there to help make 2021 a productive and safe year. You know what they say, hindsight is always 2020. (In this case it’s true. Also, let’s never use that reference ever again.) Rethinking if you’re ready for 2021? Look No Further, We Got You. If you think custom software can help your business garner more visibility, schedule a free consultation here. We want you to be prepared for 2021, and we can help. Not sure what questions to ask for your first meeting with a custom software firm, use this handy dandy guide! This post was written by Celeste A. Barron, Content Development Manager for Shift3 Technologies. You’ll find her continually falling into the marketing funnels on Instagram.