It’s hard to imagine that 2020 will be known for anything except The Year of Coronavirus. The emergence of COVID-19, deemed a pandemic by the CDC, is destroying lives, confining people to their homes like hostages, and bringing business as we know it to a screeching halt. Like the 2008 recession, there is little doubt that the coronavirus pandemic will change the business landscape forever.
The virus managed to sneak stealthily into the United States, but it spread quickly throughout the country, forcing state and local governments to close schools, restaurants, bars, and other businesses where people gather. Companies large and small have been forced to temporarily shut down or scale back. Other businesses have quickly shifted to remote operations. Across the country, millions of people are now working from home, many for the first time in their lives.
Fred Magnanimi, founder of the best-selling handcrafted jewelry line, Luca + Danni, had to move swiftly to implement remote working arrangements for all non-essential employees. Like many others, he’s dealing with the COVID-19 crisis in real time while considering its impact on future business.
“The private sector continues to lead the way, spearheading initiatives to implement social distancing, even at the expense of profits and productivity,” says Magnamini. At Luca + Danni, adhering to the temporary social distancing requirements means rearranging the manufacturing facility to ensure enough space between employees.
“Witnessing the entire country come to a grinding halt is something out of a sci-fi movie” says Magnanimi. “Small businesses will be dramatically impacted and there will be a struggle between trying to provide as much support for employees while dealing with the realities of balance sheets and cash flow issues.”
As business owners, hiring managers and career professionals, we know the road to success is paved with challenges. How we respond to the COVID-19 crisis at hand and prepare for a future where social distancing is the new reality. So how can your business survive the COVID-19 Test?
If the majority of your business operates within the traditional corporate structure of 9-5 workdays, now is the time to implement a new strategy. Leaders of resilient organizations understand not only the importance of providing employees with flexible working arrangements, but also of incorporating full- or part-time remote contractors to their team.
In his article Making the Most of Talent in the Gig Economy, Harvard Business Publishing author Rajeev Mandloi, says “short-term contractors or freelance workers have already generated about $204 billion in gross volume in 2018 and this figure is expected to grow to $455 billion in 2023.”
The difference in an employee who occasionally works from home and an independent contractor that manages nearly all of her work remotely is often monumental. Whereas it’s second nature for a contractor to swoop in and seamlessly integrate with a team. An employee who isn’t familiar with telework often faces a learning curve and either a short- or long-term decrease in productivity. When social distancing requires employees to work-remotely, you need experts that can hit the ground running. Independent contractors are a valuable, yet often overlooked resource.
The paradigm has shifted. If nothing else, COVID-19 demonstrates the need for flexible working arrangements and part-time independent contractors. Once predominantly considered an incentive to employees or a necessary component to recruit top-talent, must now be incorporated into standard operating procedures. Independent contractors, often considered an expense and utilized when absolutely necessary, must be woven into the fabric of a resilient business.
When the dust settles, it will be tempting to view COVID-19 as an isolated occurrence. Failure to adapt and change, regardless of the time, effort and cost investment, is a sure-fire way to endure similar—if not far worse—consequences. Resist the temptation to take the easy way out. Utilize the hard-won lessons of COVID-19 to create an enduring business, able to withstand whatever challenges lie ahead.
The evolving COVID-19 crisis requires business leaders to be agile and flexible. Your number one priority right now is the safety and well-being of your employees and the community at large. When the crisis ends, you’ll be able to assess the situation and develop a plan to maximize your resiliency in the event of another crisis or mandatory social distancing.
At MotherWorks, we’re committed to your business success. As a leading employment websites, we provide access to top-tier talent and specialize in the recruitment of mothers and remote-working parents. For more information, visit http://motherworks.co