MEDIA: Will There Ever be a Right Time to Re-Open the Economy? (CJAD 800 AM)

As communities begin to consider relaxing some of the physical distancing and related COVID-19 provisions, it was my pleasure to discuss this area on The Natasha Hall Show on CJAD 800 AM Radio (Montreal). These decisions are certainly difficult for governments, but also bring some significant challenges for businesses:

  • Safety first.  At a baseline, work and customer spaces must be safe and clean for everyone, to a level that generally exceeds anything we have seen in the past.  Business leaders already have a considerable amount of work to do in order to manage their company; now, a complex health and cleanliness regime must be developed, implemented, and maintained.
  • Ducks in line.  Companies may have utilized a given organizational structure for years; think manufacturing environments, comprised of people, equipment, and materials, all in limited space.  This is brought to life through operating systems, processes, and tactics, resulting in a workflow that should generate consistent results.  In times of COVID-19, many things may have to change in this regard, requiring business leaders to re-organize plant layouts and get the job done with limited staff.
  • Tell all.  If most misunderstandings can be tied to poor communication, these days require information sharing in abundance; with clarity, confidence, and full consideration of the challenge at hand.  This isn’t just the case for orienting staff members, but also for customers (think about the last time you went to the grocery store; how many new logistical rules did you have to learn?).  Effective communication in challenging times requires a significant amount of thought and effort to get to the necessary level of clarity (think about all of the new rules that didn’t make sense to you).
  • Money matters.  Much could be said on this topic; here’s one thought: consider the financial impact that all of these changes might have on a company’s pricing strategy.  Factories operating at half of their regular staffing level might take longer to produce items.  Stores or services with reduced customer traffic might sell less.  Manufacturers that have difficulty procuring raw materials might see their costs rise, resulting in price increases.  In times of rising prices, customers may shop less frequently, impacting the pace of economic recovery.

Are business leaders prepared for these challenges?

We do not know what these days will bring, in terms of how quickly our local economies will re-open and how much activity they will generate.  What we do know is that these are really important decisions, as our communities cannot afford to cycle backwards.  You can listen to our conversation here, with my thanks to Natasha Hall!

Jenifer Bartman
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