As “stay at home” orders are lifted and businesses plan the return to the workplace, reopening non-essential businesses, seeing a return to onsite construction or service, and seek a return to “normal”. There are still many questions and uncertainties about how it will really work.

This is Part 3 of Plan the Return, with a focus on Processes.

(Click here to read Part 1 of Plan the Return: People Considerations or read Part 2 of Plan the Return: Customer Considerations. And to read an overview about Planning Your Return, check this out.)

There are a multitude of processes that support even the simplest of businesses. Often these processes are not formalized or documented, but still hold true as businesses, leaders, and employees adhere to norms, expectations and deliverables. As businesses and people shifted to virtual working, or for those still operating in-person, utilizing a skeleton crew of “essential workers”, some of those underlying processes became apparent when “things stopped working correctly”.

In some cases, businesses (and even the EPA) have streamlined innovation and approval processes. Witness the many examples of chemical companies and even whiskey distilleries producing hand sanitizer — moving from idea to production in 10 days or less, when typical new product approvals take 10 months or more!

The increasing digitization of manufacturing has been helpful to distance-diagnostics. Engineering companies are using drone videos of in-plant equipment to assess and develop service plans and bids. Plant engineers can login to see real-time manufacturing data and provide input to onsite operations staff.

Necessity drives innovation and change. And once changed, it becomes hard to go back to the old ways and processes. Is your business ready to adapt its processes when we return to “business as usual”?

We are already seeing early-indications of an increase in the contact-free economy:

  • In China, early indications are that consumers are shopping online in greater numbers.
  • In Italy, e-commerce transactions have risen 81%.
  • Teladoc Health reported a 50% increase in service in the 2nd half of March.
  • And in Europe, KRY International, one of Europe’s largest telehealth providers, has seen a 200% increase in registrations.

Frankly, those are the obvious industries to see a change. And in many ways, it’s a return to old-fashioned business service, performed in a new way.

The reality is that all business is going to be impacted by a desire to be contact-free, more flexible in work practices, and more responsive to new ways of doing business.

Is your business ready to change? As you build your Return Plan and look to reopen your office or other business locations, how do you need to adapt your business processes?

Consider this:

  • How do you make your daily business interactions contact-free without being impersonal?
  • Can approval processes be streamlined and the number of touches reduced – both personal and electronic?
  • What paper processes and interactions can be digitized? Invoicing and receipts; contracts; standard forms – secure, digital options exist today.
  • Under what conditions can innovation processes be short-cutted?
  • What changes to information security processes are necessary when more business is conducted virtually?
  • What business and process “pain points” can be reduced through innovation and simplification?

One of the positives of this crisis and pandemic is that is has shown us that we CAN work and conduct business differently. The challenge in front of us, as we return to work in the short term and for the long-term, is being bold enough to embrace the change, codifying the temporary work-around into the long-term new process, adjusting our mindsets and practices and processes to a new world.

Are you building your Return Plan and would like to get some insights or feedback? Just let us know. We’re here to help you move forward, not in circles.