How Technology Can Help Your Business Thrive During Lockdown

There’s no denying that we are experiencing one of the most
difficult times in a generation, especially for business. With the
Coronavirus pandemic at its peak, many industries have already been
forced to make major changes to the way they operate in order to
survive an unknown period of recession. With approximately 44% of
UK businesses now operating a skeleton structure while 20% have
chosen to completely shut down, (some even going out of business),
the key workers and essential industries are adopting huge shifts
in their operations.

In manufacturing, medical and food & drink there have been
limited choices available to move to remote working, due to large
machinery, demand for services and limited resources to transform
traditional bricks and mortar stores into delivery-only.

What we have seen is an unprecedented transition to remote
working for many businesses that have traditionally operated from
an office environment, and already there is speculation that
working-from-home will become much more of a norm following this
forced rollout of changes.

While there are many cost-saving benefits to be had from this
transformation, there are challenges to face for those who are
passionate about staying the course, but technology can help bridge
the gap.

Time Management

One of the biggest challenges employers face is knowing that
their remote staff are as productive as possible. While Google
Calendar works well for ‘general meetings’ featuring their
unique ‘hangouts’ video conferencing, the time spent in between
departmental catch ups and brainstorms requires a little more
granularity.

Online apps such as Float, Asana and Monday offer task
scheduling that allow teams to generate lists and sublists that can
be assigned to individuals and ticked off when done. For tracking
productivity and time spent – Toggl or Timedoctor are simple
chrome extensions that allow you to stop/start when working on a
task. For an all-in-one solution, Clickup has many of the features
you’d come to expect for scheduling, tracking time and
maintaining efficiency amongst teams – remotely or in-house. All
of which help you monitor, record and report on daily activity from
your remote team.

Image src: https://clickup.com

Managing staff & technology

With many staff new to home-working, there is often a steep
learning curve for some that have never used video conferencing,
virtual private networks or cloud-based apps. Corporations large
enough to have their own in-house IT department are now making the
shift to remote IT support using bespoke and off-the-shelf
applications allow many fixes to be remedied without the need for
on-site visits. Detailed analytics software can show you the types
of issues raised and resolved.

Img src: https://ctm-it.com

Creating documents online via cloud tools like Google Docs or
even just storing existing files in Google Drive, OneDrive or
DropBox is becoming widespread. While tricky for some to adopt,
cloud-based tools go a long way in reducing the ‘I forgot to
save’ moments that previously warranted hours of tricky
restoration and recovery.

Find one person in your business to lead the way and champion
new software, create documentation or training slides and allow you
to upskill multiple departments at once. If you want to be able to
measure performance and reward staff to maintain morale, apps such
as StaffCircle or Clearview may be worth
exploring.

Marketing

When the chips are down, you have to make big decisions and
those usually involve finance. Customers aren’t buying, suppliers
aren’t operating, there seems too many unknowns to make
data-driven decisions. Marketing is usually one of the first
‘expenses’ to get cut and upto 60% of UK businesses have already done
so
. Particularly across leisure and hospitality industries such
as pubs, airlines and hotels, this has been necessary to avoid
catastrophic loss.

“Amidst difficulty lies opportunity” – Albert
Einstein.

While some of the biggest economic challenges can often reveal
opportunities, they are not without risk – or investment.

As lockdown drives much more traffic through social media, ad
spend is set to increase 22% and you’ll require additional effort
to stand out amongst your competitors, however the rewards are
there to be had with upto 670% increases in sales of some ecommerce
categories according to ecommerceguide.com.

“Video (31%), paid ads (31%) and broadcast (28%) are all
expected to ride the crest of a new digital boom.†– The Drum

Investing in SEO is also a great mid to long-term investment
that if started now will show dividends in the coming months –
especially while everyone else cuts back on paid ads.

WHAT YOUR BUSINESS CAN DO TO ENSURE REMOTE WORKING IS A
SUCCESS

  1. If you’ve not already done so, map out your existing
    processes and identify where some of the bottlenecks are likely to
    occur with the switch to remote working. A free tool like draw.io
    should do the trick. Given that we’re a few weeks in, you may
    have already identified these!
  2. Ensure remaining staff are all fully versed in introducing your
    phase 1 software tools; conferencing and time management. You can
    create slides explaining how to use them at slides.google.com and
    present them via google hangouts which is simple and free to
    use.
  3. Any phase 2 software tools should be tested and evaluated to
    ensure you and the team have full visibility over the tasks in hand
    and the deadlines you need to meet. Clickup or Asana work well and
    both offer free trials and walkthroughs.
  4. Hardware, software, servers and networks can all be
    administered remotely – even the laptops that staff have taken
    home. This will go a long way to ensure everyone has the right
    access to resources and you can see who requires the most IT
    support time. If you’re on a shoestring budget and know how to
    fix your own IT, TeamViewer app lets you ‘remote in’ or use a
    professional company.
  5. Analyse every aspect of your marketing before you cut all
    budgets. Social media is great for B2C short-term gains if you’re
    on a budget. Paid ads and TV advertising for bigger budgets and SEO
    for mid to long-term gains. This could be the best time to
    compete.

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How Technology Can Help Your Business Thrive During
Lockdown