Over the course of two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has radically affected practically every aspect of modern businesses. Some businesses may have announced record breaking profits, but the majority of businesses saw a need to rethink their entire approach to meet this new landscape head on.

That’s where a simple strategy framework helps, as it gives business leaders and IT managers actionable methods with which to recalibrate their business. This is invaluable, given that business leaders do not have the time to deliberate, lest their business gets overshadowed by the competition. It is important to mitigate the various effects of the pandemic as soon as possible.

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the workplace

The effects of COVID-19 had an impact that affected more than just the landscape of healthcare. The lockdowns that resulted from the fast-spreading pandemic resulted in various consequences for all aspects of business.

Like with any other form of problem solving, it is not enough to address only one of these factors. Changes need to be widespread, and they need to address all of the weaknesses left in the wake of the pandemic. Any problems left unaddressed have the potential to exacerbate, resulting in a significant drain of money, effort and resources in the long term.

The transition to remote working

The big change that everybody remembers from the lockdowns caused by the pandemic is that offices had to relocate and people suddenly had to work from their homes. For some, this transition was seamless; as they already had a capable setup at home, or their work required very little in terms of equipment.

However, a significant number of employees suddenly found themselves displaced from the requirements of working remotely. Suddenly, they needed new technology to be mailed to them, they required training for new procedures that were recently put into place, and they had to suddenly adapt to this brand new working environment. This transition imposed costs, affected productivity and took time away from work.

The importance of safety in the workplace

Safety should always be a top priority for the workplace. There are many different reasons for this, such as:

  • Safety is a basic human right
  • Workplace injuries cause a gap in the workforce that takes time and resources to fix
  • If staff are unable to work due to unsafe working conditions, it causes productivity to stagnate, affecting business profitability
  • Staff lose morale when they are made to work in unsafe conditions

The COVID-19 pandemic emphasised workplace safety. In order to combat the spread of the pandemic, businesses had to implement protocols such as the use of QR codes for the purpose of contact tracing and extensive PPE usage. This is particularly important as we still see significant numbers of active cases, as staff needing to isolate can have a major effect on productivity.

The loss of income

In the first year of COVID alone, Australian businesses saw a significant impact on their productivity that, for 5 months, resulted in a loss of income.

  • In March 2020, 64% of businesses reported a reduction in demand, while 48% reported restrictions impacting their operations
  • In April 2020, 1.8 million people had their working hours reduced to 0, with youth underemployment hitting 23.6%
  • In May 2020, 72% of businesses recorded a decrease in revenue as a result of the social distancing measures used to curb the pandemic as 870,000 people lost their jobs
  • In June 2020, 2 in 3 businesses reported a decrease in revenue compared to the same time last year, as GDP fell by a record 7%
  • In July 2020, unemployment peaked at the highest it had ever been at 7.5%, while 47% reported a decrease in revenue

While businesses would eventually make a recovery, they still had to institute company-wide changes to adapt to that maladjustive five-month period. Upon returning to the office, businesses then needed to re-adapt in order to make up for all of the income that they had lost.

The displacement of time

This is an effect of the pandemic that is seldom talked about, but while businesses scrambled to make it through the pandemic as unscathed as possible, the world around them had basically become frozen in time for two years. What this means is that procedures that previously saw constant change due to the dynamic business landscape; such as infrastructure, software and data security had suddenly stagnated. 

Eventually, staff returned to their offices to find that the ways in which customers and clients interacted with their business had completely changed, and business leaders and IT managers now needed to figure out the way forward in order to make up for that lost time. 

The pressure on business leaders

Ultimately, it was the responsibility of the business leaders to respond to these adverse effects. Unfortunately, there was no guide on how to deal with such an unprecedented situation. The COVID-19 pandemic had brought the world to a halt for a couple of years, and its effects were devastating.

The return to offices was a critical turning point for business leaders. The mitigation of the pandemic’s effects offered the perfect opportunity for businesses to adopt new methods and assert themselves with a new competitive edge. However, this opportunity also came with the risk of a business exacerbating their already compromised state.

Why do you need a simple strategy framework for your post-COVID-19 workplace?

You need a simple strategy framework for your post-COVID-19 workplace for two reasons:

  • You need to formulate a proper response to events such as the pandemic, and that response needs to address all of the pandemic’s many effects on the workplace
  • You can’t spend too long on formulating said response, because your return to the market will be overshadowed by your competitors

As a decision maker, you have to balance being pragmatic with remaining competitive if you want your business to succeed in the wake of an event such as the COVID-19 pandemic. There are many different kinds of strategic planning frameworks available, and different departments require different frameworks in order to ensure their effectiveness.

However, different frameworks can still use IT-related solutions in order to solve any problems that they identify, regardless of their department.

Simple Strategy Frameworks

NOTE: The following frameworks are examples that are being used as suggestions. Your best course of action is to determine the framework that works best for your business.

DepartmentStrategy Framework
Information Technology (IT)A balanced scorecard is a suitable method of determining whether or not your IT strategies meet your business’ specific needs across all sectors. 
Identify your strategic objectives (i.e. what specific goals do you want your IT solutions to achieve?). Examples include:Training employeesInnovating within your industryCustomer retentionImproving processesIncreasing profitability

Draw up a diagram that demonstrates the connections between your strategic objectives. This communicates your strategies and demonstrates what each department, team, or individual contributes to the overarching goals of your company.

Outline the specific metrics that you will use in order to measure the success of these individual goals. This means:Outline what the metric is now (i.e. current number of sales)Present the actionable IT procedures to change said metric (i.e. implement self-checkout system)Assert the future goal in a tangible manner (i.e. the number of sales you want to achieve)
Human Relations(HR)The goal of HR is to maximise the productivity of employees and protect the company from any internal problems. A PEST Analysis is a framework that identifies external factors that could negatively impact employees (and, therefore, the business).
Start by identifying the following, and their effects on your staff:Political factorsEconomic factorsSocio-cultural factorsTechnological factors

Identify opportunities that the previous factors can provide for you to improve your business

Identify threats that could arise from the factors from Step 1

Determine actionable steps that you can then implement based on the observations in Steps 2 and 3
Customer Experience(CX)CX determines how an organisation interacts with its customers in every capacity, from marketing to sales to customer service. As a result, you can use Porter’s Five Forces, a five-point analysis that helps you assess how you can make your business stand out from competitors.
Identify threats of new entry, which means observing how easy it is for new competitors to emerge in your market

Determine the threat of substitution, meaning that you have to figure out the likelihood that your customers will replace your product or service with an alternative

Define the bargaining power of suppliers, which analyses how easily your suppliers can increase their prices and affect your bottom line

Assert the bargaining power of customers, and whether they have the power to drive your prices down

Identify your competitors directly;How many there areWhich ones are the biggestThe quality of their products compared to yoursWhat distinguishes you from the competitionWhat it will cost your customers to switch to one of your competitors

In Summary

COVID-19 displaced a lot of businesses, resulting in various problems such as the transition to remote working, the importance of safety in the workplace, the loss of income and the loss of time.

These problems created a new and uncertain landscape that business leaders need to respond to across multiple departments; including information technology, human resources and customer experience.

The best course of action is to determine simple strategy frameworks that each department can act upon. There is a wealth of frameworks available, so it is important to determine and then implement the ones that will directly benefit your business.

That is where our team of business analysts and tech specialists come in. At Synapse IT, we have the knowledge and experience to thoroughly assess your business and determine the best way for it to effectively recover from the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Contact us for a free 60 minute session with our senior consultants so we can help you use IT to make your business grow.

Hayden McMaster