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2 minute read / May 13, 2020 /

How Would You Manage Your Business Differently if Shelter-in-Place Lasted 18 Months or More?

If the shelter-in-place order were to remain in place for another 12 months, how would you change the way you run your business? Over the past two months, CEOs and founders have managed the turbulence imposed by the coronavirus onto their companies. Most of the time, we’ve implemented short-term plans.

This week, the first companies announced longer-term plans. Twitter empowered employees to work from home forever. Google and Facebook announced work-from-home plans through the end of 2020. I’m sure there will be more announcements of this ilk.

Given all the uncertainty for the next few quarters in how we will work, and it may be time to shift from short-term decisions to longer-term planning, like these larger companies.

If you knew that shelter-in-place would continue for another 12 months, what changes would you enact today as a business leader? Would you reconsider your real estate budget? A leader of a public company shared with me that her board encouraged her to embrace remote work, identify which roles could be successfully staffed mostly remotely, and cut real estate budgets by 25-30% next year and into the future.

Would you hire a head of people sooner? Internal communications differ in remote work. Writing becomes more critical. Relationship building must take new forms. There are no conversations around the Bevi machine anymore (or caffeinated raspberry sparkling water). Without clear and reliable internal communications, a startup cannot move as a single unit and execute with speed - a startup’s core advantage.

Also, someone must develop on-boarding and off-boarding processes for incoming and outgoing remote workers. Those may be new muscles for a company to flex.

Would you change the way you recruit? Perhaps, you might embrace remote workers more than in the past? Or prefer candidates with remote work experience, particularly for managers?

Would you define a new office layout? The open office plan may have seen its apogee in the last decade. Will employees request cubes again?

Might you begin to plan how to return employees to the office building? Another friend who works in a New York high rise at a major investment bank told me elevators are the limiting factor in returning people to work. How do you move people into and out of a building safely when elevator capacity is reduced by 75%?

What other strategic imperatives might change?

Most of us have been making near-term decisions. It may be time to shift to longer-term for another 6-18+ months of business operations in this new normal.

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