On January 4, businesses in Lebanon eagerly got back in action, entering the workspace and preparing for a year of possibilities and uncertainties. On January 7, nationwide closures were declared to contain the spread of the pandemic. The strict closures, without a doubt, will pose yet another challenge for companies and teams, trying to get their strategies for 2021 off the ground. However, there are ways in which businesses can work around these closures, and keep the ball rolling.
Update response plans
Firstly, does your business have a COVID-19 or force majeure response plan? In 2020, on both a global scale and in Lebanon, many lockdowns marked the year. By the fifth lockdown (who’s counting), a response strategy to ensure business continuity should have already been in place and fool proofed. This time around, assess if team members are aware of their responsibilities, if you could do anything differently to enhance productivity levels, and ensure that the strategy for this year, as well as deadlines are clear for everyone to follow.
Check cash flows
Yes, times are tough, but it is up to all members of the team to understand the importance of their role in keeping the business afloat. One key factor is cash flow that should be provisioned for to cover the running expenses for at least 3 to 6 months. If the closures are financially draining the company, find ways to create alternative sources of income or improve on your offering. Speak with your clients to settle their due payments on time, and negotiate payment extensions with your suppliers until you have more visibility. By all means, continue to cut costs where possible.
Study supply chains
Globally, supply chains have been disrupted due to numerous factors, and some production lines have been forced to shut down as a result. In Lebanon, supply chains are even trickier to manage, due to the various currencies and payment procedures that suppliers request. Assess your supply chains, and contact each of your suppliers to ensure that the delivery of goods or services will be completed within the agreed-upon date. If not, find alternative solutions to keep the business running. The recommendation to minimize the risks that supply chains are exposed to, by localizing them as much as possible.
Assess customer needs
Use this period to understand your customers’ needs, and ensure you communicate with them on the new working hours, delivery modules or if any orders or bookings need to be cancelled or postponed. Customers will be forgiving, as long as you communicate and support them when needed.
Avoid cyber attacks
Some of the biggest businesses have been victim to cyber-attacks and have had their IT systems hacked over the past year. If you haven’t done so already, now is the time to review and strengthen your IT systems, safeguard your emails and increase the security for your servers and website. It is also important to train the team on new security measures to be taken.
By skipping the daily commute (that’s at least 30 minutes to 1 hour a day, with Lebanese traffic), encourage your team to use this time during lockdown to take online courses and enhance their skillsets. Also, promote cross-functional trainings where possible, for each team member to gain a more holistic understanding of the company. Check out this blog post out on what skills you really need for the future.
But most importantly… #Stayhome
Every single individual is responsible for the health and wellbeing of others. To contain the spread of the virus and ensure that those most at risk (elderly individuals and those with pre-existing conditions) are safe, make sure you #Stayhome and #Staysafe… connect with friends via Zoom instead and pick up a new hobby in the meantime.