Between the near-total shutdown of 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the highest inflation rates we’ve seen in decades, and the economy entering a downturn in the first quarter of 2022, companies across all industries have had to institute some incredible business efficiencies to adapt.
From rethinking traditional workspaces and schedules to carefully evaluating investments and funding sources, the rapidly-changing socio-economic conditions of the past few years have pushed businesses to think outside the box or risk sinking.
In the past months, LinkedIn feeds have been full of layoff announcements. We watch as companies scale back their teams in the face of economic uncertainty and plummeting cryptocurrency values.
In the face of this news and what looks to be a continued level of market uncertainty, opportunities for businesses to face these challenges, innovate and end up better off than one might imagine. Here are several strategies to help you increase efficiency, decrease overhead, and bolster your business to weather a recession.
1. Consider going remote.
Going remote isn’t an option for every industry. However, given the availability of today’s reliable high-speed internet, networking technologies, and cloud services, it’s worth considering a transition to remote and even asynchronous options if you haven’t already.
Many managers fear that employees might slack off in a remote environment. However, they don’t consider many other factors that make a remote workforce an asset, not a potential liability. So it’s worth making a spreadsheet and taking a serious look at the office overhead.
For example, how much do you pay for your brick-and-mortar office’s heating, cooling, electricity, and internet? What are your rent or mortgage costs? How often do you have to upgrade or repair equipment like computers and printers?
Hold those numbers up to the cost of a subsidy for your employees to equip their home offices and pay for internet. You might find the balance sheet leans in a surprising direction.
Remote work offers subtle advantages, too.
A less measurable result of transitioning to remote work options, at least in the short term, is that your employees may be happier. And happy employees are more likely to stay loyal and productive, which can save you a fortune in turnover costs.
That’s a win-win.
How many hours of productivity per week are lost to commute times alone? Remote employees save endless hours of commuting and thousands of dollars on fuel. They have the flexibility to be available for their families. They can take breaks in the comfort of their own home.
Many assume there are more distractions at home between children, pets, or spouses. However, think about how many distractions there are in your workplace. While employees might have to wear noise-canceling headphones to focus in their small office at work, they have more control over their environment at home.
Offering remote or flexible positions is a powerful hiring tool for your company as well.
Instead of limiting yourself to your local pool of talent or fighting to tempt someone to move cross-country for a job, you can compete to attract the best of the best — and they get to live where they want. If you consider global recruitment, this can also benefit your company by adding diverse perspectives from a variety of regions to your team.
2. Think about managed services.
Wait a minute, aren’t we trying to weather a recession? So why would a business want to spend money on managed services? It may seem counterintuitive to consider paying for something members of your team could do, but there are multiple benefits.
Interestingly, you might be looking at 30% savings each year by letting a managed print service provider free up some of your IT department’s tasks. While your IT team is more than capable of handling the office’s printers, there are probably more important — and cost-effective — tasks that would benefit from their attention. As a result, the market for MPS is growing, along with other outsourcing options.
Device as a Service options is also growing. DaaS offers complete device lifecycle support that can include servicing and analytics. You might consider outsourcing some of your communications, marketing, and PR efforts to an agency dedicated to one of those areas.
Paying an outside agency specializing in one particular area often makes sense. It can free up your team to focus on their strengths as well.
However, you shouldn’t necessarily ax your internal communications teams. You risk losing valuable institutional knowledge and skill sets that can’t be entirely replaced through contract work. However, you might be able to free up your core team, so they can produce more mission-driven results and be less dragged down with less-complicated but time-consuming efforts.
3. Look at investing in technologies.
In line with the previous tip, and seemingly counterintuitive perhaps, is the suggestion that one of the best ways for companies to hold up against uncertainty and economic downturns is to invest in business technology. This must be done strategically, of course.
Investing in technology is especially true with recent conditions changing business capability demands. The technology that can help you weather a recession now (or in the future) looks different than that of recessions past. More businesses utilize cloud services, video networking, and advanced customer service options.
You may want to look into support for systems, including operations and sales. Focusing on your customers is always essential, and it’s wise to have solutions in place before disruptive events tear a hole in your customer relationships. And if you have a remote workforce, it’s a good idea to research tools and security options. Then, use these to avoid unforeseen problems derailing your bottom line.
Automation options are another reliable way to take some of the load off your team. Once implemented, they save time and money.
For example, the well-known payroll giant Paycor ran the numbers. They realized they were spending enormous amounts of employee hours (read: money) on their employment verification process. So Payco brought Truework on board to handle that. Processing income and employment verifications manually were unsustainable for Paycor’s HR team, but delegating that to an automated service simplified the process and saved them hours each day.
The Bottom Line
You may hesitate to adopt newer technologies or previously-unconventional work arrangements for your team, especially during times of uncertainty.
However, it’s essential to do your homework and find solutions to streamline and safeguard your processes. Change is a natural part of the business world. Incorporating new ways of operating may put you ahead of your competitors.
While weighing your options, remember to protect your valuable resources — especially your funding and employee institutional knowledge. Assess your company’s strengths and weaknesses, and pay close attention to the needs of your team. Finally, make choices to update processes that are holding your team back.
Remember that supporting your employees is one of the most important ways to invest in your company. Even if times get tough, a strong team will get through it.
Managed services, remote and asynchronous work arrangements, DaaS, and automation are all critical areas to investigate to see if they’ll save you time and money in the long run.
Technology continues to take a more powerful role in the workplace and continues to transform rapidly. As a result, it’s increasingly important to consider hiring third-party experts. With a bit of luck and a whole lot of effort, you may be able to weather these economic storms. You can emerge ready to face any unexpected challenge the world can throw your way.
Featured Image: JoToler; Pixabay.com. Thank you!