Everyone desperately wants the coronavirus pandemic to fade away, which would enable a return to daily routines that have been turned upside down over the past two months. The difficult truth, however, is that no one knows when that will happen. A vaccine is likely more than a year away, leaving social distancing as the most effective strategy against COVID-19. Even when restaurants, stores and businesses do begin to reopen, a comprehensive plan to safeguard both employees and customers will be a must, says Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine.
“Until there is a vaccine, this monster is going to be lurking around us,” DeWine said at one of his daily press briefings. Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf added, “We must look ahead and take a measured, careful approach to prepare for the future while ensuring that we don’t undo all of our efforts.”
This reality presents business leaders with a challenge unlike any they have ever faced before.
“There is no playbook for this,” wrote Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella last month in an email to his employees.
Businesses of all sizes have been forced to lay off employees and scrap plans that made perfect sense only a few months ago. The thought of remaking a company to function in the midst of the coronavirus is daunting, whether you’re leading a small business, a middle-market company or a global technology firm.
“For me, the best way I’ve found to get past this anxiety is to focus on what I can do each day to make a small difference,” Nadella wrote. “Each of us, wherever we are, has the opportunity to do the same — take an action driven by hope, a small step that makes things a bit better.”
It could be something as simple as regular phone calls to your people to make sure they are safe and healthy. If you’ve had to lay off employees, keep them posted on your efforts to restore their jobs. Offer your gratitude to those still working to keep your company going during these difficult times. Nothing is easy these days as we await guidance on what will happen next. Now is the time to strengthen the bonds with your team and bolster the foundation upon which your company will build its new future.
“Strength does not come from winning,” said actor and former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. “Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.”
Fred Koury is president and CEO at Smart Business Network