Coronavirus: What’s The Upside?

This week I have a guest post from James Rowell who is a Strategy and Process Consultant at Advent Management talking about the upside to the Coronavirus pandemic. Take it away James ...

The Coronavirus pandemic has been a big challenge for many organisations. There will be ongoing impacts, especially the impetus for businesses to re-create its competitive capability, some say, making the transition to a new position.

"The immediate impact has been for businesses to change or adapt what they provide or how they deliver their service!"

Restaurants becoming take-away outlets, physiotherapists delivering service online, manufacturers re-configuring their products such as turning bath/shower screens into protective screens for retail outlets.

Here are two examples, in more detail of organisations which have overcome difficulties and are now stronger and better to face the future:

PPSGB, a company producing decontamination sheltering & clothing to a world-wide market were initially overwhelmed by the demand for their products. For example, orders received for one particular isolation unit, were typically one order per week, now demand reached 100 per day. Their whole business is about safety and protection, so their ethos motivated a can-do approach to serving their customers.

Long working hours helped with 6am starts and working for no extra pay over the weekend. As the challenges became greater, a wider support network was engaged with individual volunteers providing manpower and equipment, and local businesses offering services for free. On the other hand, some existing suppliers were increasing prices for materials and components with a 60% increase in one instance, putting pressure on margins.

As time moved on, the products provided changed to meet the demands in the NHS such as PPE (e.g. masks, gowns) for doctors and nurses on the frontline with Covid patients. Later, they reassigned their skills to another new purpose: producing see-through facemasks for children as they return to school.

Having developed their facilities to manufacture new products, especially hospital gowns developed with NHS input, they now see an ongoing market demand backed by their experience of specialised protective equipment. The managing director marked these successes on their perseverance, teamwork, and peoples' dedication.

In a different example, Transitions UK, a regionally based not-for-profit organisation that met their clients face-to-face had a problem. During the social isolation of lockdown, that just wasn't possible. A regular weekly meeting was typical of how they supported their clients who are vulnerable young people. What to do now?

Options were investigated. They must provide a virtual meeting forum, so apps such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, Zoom and Skype were considered. With some amount of scepticism, if not trepidation, these were adopted and their mentors became familiar with the new methods.

As for their young clients, they were used to apps because "that's what we use", so during the period of social lockdown, rather than offering a worse service, the charity now offers a better, more client-focussed service.

Even further it has realised, that this is more effective; virtual 1-2-1 meetings can be shorter, and can be held more frequently, as it removes travelling time. Not only that, it also reduces operating costs, from the reduction in travel.

When lockdown ends, the 'new' system will be implemented creating the capability of supporting even more young people. With the virtual meeting method in place they are no longer restricted to a local area, and will be looking to extend their service nationally.

These examples show that preparing your business to meet customers' changed expectations could mean revising your customer offering.

Such adaptations can make your business stronger, more capable, and ready to stand up to a new competitive environment.

If you feel inspired to find out more about anything I've said here, do call me on 01908 774320 or leave a comment below and I'll be in touch as soon as I can.