6 Ways to Make Your Company More Efficient in a Crisis
In good times and bad, efficiency is important. When a virus, tornado, or economic downturn hits, it becomes imperative. Mandatory overtime and benefits reductions can maximize labor resources, but they aren’t sustainable solutions. Selling office assets or equity can raise money in a pinch. But there are less drastic options that a lot of companies ignore.
Rather than going to one extreme or the other, businesses and workers should try to meet each other in the middle. To maximize your company’s efficiency in a crisis — without risking long-term damage for short-term gains — here’s what you can do:
1. Make working from home mandatory.
There’s no reason to keep most information-age workers in the office if you don’t have to. Sending them home keeps them healthy, gives them a workspace where they’re comfortable, and minimizes operational costs.
When people are working from home, the office lights aren’t on and the water isn’t running. Energy alone makes up a fifth
of the expenses of the typical office building. There’s also no reason to restock the office fridge or pay a janitorial service; ditch the overhead by encouraging work-from-home practices.
2. Find a common groove.
When people are working from home, workflows change. Some people might prefer to work early in their morning, while their kids are still in bed. For others, evening might be a better fit for their schedule.
For many businesses, completely freeform scheduling isn't feasible. But if all members of the team are expected to work during a core set of hours each workday, it’s possible to achieve a happy medium.
Think about what that means: Workers benefit from better work-life balance, which improves efficiency. And if they know exactly when others will be online, they can collaborate more effectively — another boost to efficiency.
3. Let employees take as many breaks as needed.
Crises are stressful, and needs change as much as schedules do. These anxieties can seriously sap work performance. Fortunately, a little empathy can go a long way.
The five minutes that a team member spends checking on a kid staying home from school is worth it. Otherwise, she’s going to be thinking about how her son or daughter is doing when her mind is supposed to be on work.
Encourage employees to carve out time and space specifically for work. That way, they won’t associate mundane personal tasks with their work station. Only using a bedroom for sleep, example, can help employees sleep better and resist the temptation to take a nap during the day.
4. Rethink procurement.
When local businesses are shutting down, it simply doesn’t make sense to send someone out to buy supplies. And if local businesses are low on stock, they may react by raising their prices.
Instead, reach out to a group purchasing organization
. GPOs like Una have access to thousands of common business products. And because they consolidate the buying power of their members, they can often get those products at a lower price.
5. Focus on low-hanging-fruit products and services.
If your business is struggling to make sales during a crisis, take a look at what you’re selling. Some product lines might be lost causes, while others might do better than ever.
No amount of marketing is going to sell group activities like escape rooms when people are avoiding social interaction. But what about puzzles or books of brain teasers? When people are staying home, at-home activities are likely to be big sellers.
6. Do all you can via videoconference.
If you’re a construction company, there’s not much you can do from afar. But most companies can get creative to move their in-person processes online.
Take customer service. If you’re a computer repair store, you may be used to people bringing in their broken hardware. But you could move to an all-online consulting model: Screensharing can show you what the user sees, and videoconferencing can enable you to walk through the issue face to face with the customer.
Crises aren’t fun, but they offer opportunities to find your most efficient mode of operation. Protect your team members, cut your operating expenses, and keep revenue rolling in the door: Even in the midst of a pandemic, it's possible to have it all.
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