Recovering from the pause to everyday life caused by COVID-19 will be a demanding process. Incorporating the processes of working from home, social distancing, and restrictions on movement and travel will be key in the lives of employees, while employers and businesses will face a transition in returning to standard operations.

To be direct, for consumers, employees, and businesses, life after COVID-19 will be vastly different than before quarantine changed daily life.

Small Business

The U.S. economy is made up of more than 30 million small businesses, representing every state and industry. While small businesses are a critical part of the economy and employ millions of people, a vast majority of those businesses were not prepared for the shutdown caused by COVID-19 and could be on the brink of closure in the coming months. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) reports that “roughly 40% to 60% of small businesses never reopen their doors following a disaster.”

For those businesses preparing to reopen in a post-COVID-19 world, the changes that have happened – and will continue to occur – will shape the future of your company. Those changes range from how to bring back employees to how your budget will have to be altered to account for lost revenue.

Before bringing back full-scale operations, small businesses must start with a sound financial plan review, adjusting as needed to keep the doors open.

Financial planning

  • Create a budget to get you through the end of Q2. Plan for what you know is right in front of your business and see what it will take to get there
  • Reduce overhead, non-essential expenses, and cut back on staffing/payroll if needed. Slashing short-term expenses can help to keep your business running in the long-term
  • Talk with your landlord, service providers, and lenders to see if there are any breaks or programs to help with late or missed payments. Any financial assistance your business can take advantage of is a great step toward recovery

Communication

  • Be transparent with your customers about your ability to provide goods and services, any delays that may impact business and changes in operations. Create a communication plan that includes elements your audience expects from you like a newsletter or email blast. Be sure to utilize social media and your website and physical signage at your location to keep customers and suppliers in the loop.
  • Inform customers, clients, and partners of the new policies and procedures taking place within your business.
    • New protective measures will reassure customers
    • Intensive training for employees will relieve pressure and stress from their return to work
    • Increased offerings for customers to meet virtually, deliver goods to the parking lot or their homes, and social distancing measures in-store show your business is dedicated to serving their needs in a safe way
  • Keep your staff in the loop to present a united front. Your employees are the front-line with customers and clients, ensure they are well-versed in your corporate policies. Reinforce policies on sickness or potential exposure to COVID-19. Cross-train employees to fill gaps where co-workers may not be able to perform duties

Marketing & Sales

  • Budgets may be tight, but DON’T stop your marketing and sales efforts! One of the best ways to recover from the shutdown is to grow your customer base
  • Consider creating discounts for large-scale orders who pay early for annual services or bundle services if possible. Even a slight discount of 3-5 percent will incentivize larger clients and customers to act quickly
  • Reach your audience, but don’t overdo it. Try not to bombard your customers with multiple daily emails and a flurry of social media posts. Instead, shoot for your normal metrics that have important information and promotions to get your audience engaged again!

Risk Management

  • Be on alert for predatory lenders, new suppliers, or businesses offering “too good to be true” deals. Scammers will try to appeal to businesses by offering free or ridiculous cost savings on goods or services; be wary of unknown or ill-repute businesses
  • Consider your technology needs and what service providers you are using. Businesses may face disruptions to networks, data loss, new security vulnerabilities, or lapses in critical technologies due to unforeseen issues with providers
  • Scale your staff slowly to avoid physical and financial risk. If your staff has been furloughed or removed, consider bringing back only the staff needed to maintain post-COVID operations, be those in a limited capacity or full-scale. Doing so reduces strain on your payroll and can keep your facility at a minimum should another shutdown or outbreak of the virus happen

Looking ahead

  • Take the initiative with your customers and clients. Reaching out to your regulars is easy in today’s connected society – do it! Drop a line to everyone who ordered from your business or everyone on your email list with a personal invitation or a welcome back to business.
  • Find a way to integrate your newly adopted technology into your standard operations.  Don’t abandon Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting now that you’re back in your facility. These platforms can be critical to keeping staff in the loop of operations and maybe a way to reach your customers.
  • Invest in technologies to improve efficiencies and increase margins. If you’re back to operating with a smaller-than-normal crew or have some holes to fill now that you’ve picked up additional methods of contacting customers and employees, consider implementing technologies to fill the gap. A CRM can help maintain relationships with customers, automating your marketing can take one responsibility off your plate while making you money, and a new website can help relaunch your brand.

Consumers

Life before quarantine saw consumers move in absolute freedom, with a quick run to the grocery store as mundane as a walk in the park. With the restrictions placed on much of the country, that trip to the grocery store became a much larger ordeal, having many essential items sold out and restrictions placed on the scarce amount of goods in the store.

Panic buying set in, causing consumers to attempt to appeal to their three basic needs: autonomy, or control; relatedness, or to do good for those we are in close contact with; and competence, or the feeling of doing something correctly. With the spread of misinformation about the length of quarantine and the availability of certain goods, hoarding became the storyline that plagued consumers.

In many ways, this time of lockdown changed the consumer base.

With no outlet for shopping in many physical stores, consumers turned to e-commerce via websites and applications to meet their needs. Companies set up with excellent processes in place to accommodate e-commerce consumers have fared better than those businesses that had to shut down entirely in the wake of lockdowns. According to the Tech Republic, e-commerce revenue is up 37 percent and orders are up 54 percent in the U.S., while parts of Europe and Asia have seen dramatic declines in e-commerce shopping during the time of shutdown.

Returning to operations following COVID-19 will not happen overnight, as many consumers face the new reality of the unknown surrounding the virus. With projections showing a vaccine will be unavailable into 2021, consumers have braced for a new normal that includes increased reliance on technology for basic goods and services.

To better serve the post-coronavirus consumer, businesses will have to adapt and offer more flexibility in the delivery of goods, services, and experiences. Creating a consumer-first digital experience via mobile-friendly websites and applications is a first step to reaching a more cautious consumer base.

Employees

Employees started a new decade with a quick and dramatic halt to everyday operations for many industries. Everything that could be done in a remote capacity quickly transitioned that way, leaving your employee base to go from sitting at their desk, performing their job functions as they always have, to carving out a home office, and learning a new technology for meetings.

The changes have been drastic.

While your employees will probably be the first to say the changes were tough, but being able to continue to work and provide for their families was a top priority, another transition is in the works as businesses turn from remote work back to more traditional operations.

What is the mindset of the employee as their world again faces a shakeup?

  • What are the new policies and procedures that will affect my daily work life?
  • Are there any resources available to help in this transition?
  • If I’ve had COVID-19, can I return to work?
  • What protective equipment is available for me?
  • If I’m not ready to come back to the office, what are my options?

For any operation, its biggest and best resource is the people it employs, so they have to be a top priority in the return to standard operations. From adapting to the new normal to adding new and different technologies into their daily tasks, employees need time to adjust to the increased demands placed upon them. Ensuring consistent and clear communication by establishing an Executive Recovery Team will help employees be prepared to come back to work in a well-thought-out and structured way.

The world is a different place than it was just a few long months ago. Whether your business has continued to hum along during the shutdown or has hit pause on normal operations, adapting to a post-COVID-19 world will take a team effort.

Incorporating new technologies into your normal business practices, creating a new brand identity via a new logo or website, or simply adjusting your business practices and current technologies to stretch your investment are all possibilities for your relaunch. Ask Archetype SC to see how we can help your business rebound in 2020.

Our current global health situation and resulting efforts to slow the spread has resulted in an unprecedented number of people working remotely. Technology is a great enabler to allow us to continue to be productive, but remote work presents new challenges and risks that need to be considered.

Cybercriminals are presented with millions of new targets, and users don’t have the ability to simply walk over and ask IT what to do in a situation.

Archetype SC is proud to offer a free consultation to help your business determine what tools, policies, and procedures your business needs to make it through the current situation.

To help with the transition, we have compiled a list of tools we use or recommend for making remote work easier and less risky from a cybersecurity perspective. As an added benefit, many of the tools have special offers in place to help you get started fast.

Collaboration Tools

Office 365

Office 365 users have access to some of the best cloud-based collaboration tools, helping employees stay productive and secure from any location or device. As more teams transition from working collaboratively in an office environment to working remotely, the capabilities provided by Office 365 allow your business to continue to function as usual.

Taking the familiarity of classic programs like Word, Excel, and PowerPoint to the cloud gives your team the ability to work collaboratively within a document, making changes and edits in real time. Office 365 also includes programs like:

  • One Drive: for cloud-based storage solution
  • Outlook: for email and scheduling
  • Flow: for automating workflow and process
  • Teams: for internal (and external) communication via chat, voice, and video

Offer: Microsoft is offering a free 6-month Office 365 E1 trial, which includes Outlook, Teams, OneDrive, and Microsoft Office capabilities.

Cybersecurity

PC Matic

The two prominent approaches to keeping endpoints (computers, servers, laptops, tablets, etc.) safe from malware are blacklisting and whitelisting.

Legacy antivirus programs like TrendMicro, Norton, and McAffee, rely on teams of researchers to compile profiles and lists of known bad programs, code, etc. These known risks are then blacklisted and blocked from infecting your endpoints. A newer approach is to create whitelists of programs that are known to be good—and block anything that is unknown.

This approach leads to a 99%+ catch rate, as opposed to the blacklist rate of 60%. Providers have already built very large whitelists, but new “known good” programs are able to be quickly and easily added.

PC Matic is a leader in the whitelist approach to antivirus, having built its PC Matic Pro platform around whitelisting. The technology has been proven to provide real-time protection against ransomware, advanced persistent threats, and zero-day attacks to keep your endpoints secure.

For companies that would like their antivirus managed, Archetype SC offers a managed service to offload the work from your IT staff.

Offer: PC Matic is offering free cybersecurity protection through June 30 in response to the influx of remote workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Okta

Traditionally accounts have been protected by a username and password but that is no longer enough. Multi-factor authentication (MFA) offers an added layer of security to help ensure that users are who they say they are, helping to safeguard your data.

Okta is recognized by Gartner, Forrester, and users as a leader in MFA. They provide solutions that can easily add MFA to almost any software you or your company uses that has a username and password.

Offer: Key pieces of the Okta Identity Cloud are being offered free, including Okta Single Sign-On (SSO) and Okta Multi-Factor Authentication. This offer gives all users protection for up to 5 apps for six months at no charge.  

IBM Security MaaS360

While employees are working away from your office – and your network – protecting the endpoints they’re using is critical.

Mobile device management (MDM) allows your IT staff to control the usage of devices like smartphones, tablets, and laptops by enforcing business policies on devices, securing a lost or stolen device, and allowing or disallowing certain applications.

IBM Security’s MDM offering, MaaS360, simplifies the complex practices of securing the devices accessing your business data. Using AI and analytics, MaaS360 accelerates support and provides native identity management to ensure authorized users access appropriate resources.

Offer: IBM is offering MaaS360 at no charge for clients through June 15.

Virtual Meetings

If your company hasn’t had the need to virtually meet and doesn’t have a preferred provider of those services, consider Microsoft Teams or GoToMeeting to keep your employees in touch with each other and clients.

Microsoft Teams

One of the most widely used messaging applications for businesses, Microsoft Teams is a program with features to keep your employees connected.

Features like video chatting, file sharing, and messaging allowed Microsoft Teams to add more daily active users the week of March 16th, 2020 than Slack has TOTAL, including a 500 percent increase in Teams meetings.

Teams was built with efficiencies in mind, as users can communicate, collaborate, and continue working from the desktop app or mobile version.

Offer: Microsoft is offering a free 6-month Office 365 E1 trial, which includes Outlook, Teams, OneDrive, and Microsoft Office capabilities. Additionally, Microsoft is giving Teams access to non-licensed users through January 2021.

GoToMeeting

For meetings where screen sharing and high definition video are critical, GoToMeeting is a long-standing top ranked option for quick meetings or in-depth presentations.

Offer: GoToMeeting has a free version that will allow users to perform basic tasks and organize meetings from sign up. Additionally, GoToMeeting is increasing its ability to offer customer support for remote employees.

Backup Solutions

Your organization would be lost without its critical data that keeps operations running. The consequences of a mass data loss or cyber-attack include lost sales, dissatisfied clients, and unproductive employees.

A backup solution delivers protection from data loss by creating supplementary copies of files, databases, or computers.

Acronis

A leader in the backup space, Acronis has multiple options for backup, disaster recovery, and storage. Solutions provided protect data in any environment, including physical, virtual, cloud, mobile workloads, and applications.

Offer: Acronis is offering free licenses to its Acronis Cyber Files Cloud file sync and share solution to its service provider partners through July 31.

How we can help

Selecting and using new technology can feel like a complicated task, but our motto is “we do complicated.”

Archetype SC can be your partner every step of the way, helping with selection, implementation, support, and security.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation to help your business understand and prepare to meet the technology challenges from Covid-19.

No business can undergo a digital transformation without making some mistakes.

A successful digital transformation is the product of countless hours of planning, execution, and tweaks to find the perfect balance of functionality and design to achieve a goal using technology.

But, for every successful digital transformation, there are hundreds of ideas that were tried and scrapped for one reason or another. Successful organizations embrace the process of failing and learning, while other organizations may hide the evidence and altogether quit a project after a few missteps.

Why should I embrace failure?

In the business world, failure is a term used in hushed tones. To put it simply, failure costs money and time, each of which is at a premium for businesses. Companies like Blockbuster, Kodak, and Blackberry are excellent examples of large-scale businesses that we're afraid to fail and didn’t capitalize on digitizing their businesses. Now, we look to Netflix, Canon, and Apple for products and services in a digital platform.

In the digital world, failure is a tool used to move ideas forward and can be seen as an asset in digital transformations.

The “fail fast” model allows businesses to deploy quick pilots to check the outcome before investing more resources into an idea. If the pilot works, the company can go all-in on an idea. If the pilot flops, it’s on to the next one with little lost and knowledge gained.

Trust the process and be willing to adjust

Research on digital transformation shows that less than 30 percent succeed in their original form with goals to improve performance and create long-term change. Breaking down this statistic further, digital transformations by tech-savvy companies succeed at about a 25 percent rate, while industries like automotive, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals sit between 4 and 11 percent success rates.

For many of these organizations, the investment into a digital transformation came with goals of digitizing a process, upgrading digital tools, or creating automation within a workflow. While these goals may help kickstart a digital transformation, successful organizations know changing course mid-transformation might be the easiest option forward.

Take Starbucks as an example. In 2010, the coffee giant tested adding beer and wine to its menu to diversify its product offerings. Once the company realized mixing alcohol sales with its business-driven customer base didn’t mix well, they entirely scrapped the idea. Rather than sticking by a concept because it invested time and money into it, the company saw it erred in its decision and scrapped the idea.

Taking those same principles into a digital decision can have a big impact on the business. The thoughts and ideas at the beginning of a digital transformation may be entirely different once the process kicks off, yet the end result might be a better use of time and money that achieves the goals put in place by leadership.

As your business looks at taking on a digital transformation, be that migration to Office 365, a move to automating processes, or a fresh new website to reach your audience more effectively, consider the risks and rewards of your change. Progress can be defined in many ways, even a partial failure can help your organization move forward. Embrace the challenge and find success in your innovation.

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