Verbs like “adapt” and “pivot” have become staples in the business lexicon during the pandemic for good reason: It’s how many operations—small and large—have survived this uncertain time. With recent reports indicating that an estimated 10,000 U.S. retail stores alone could close this year (a 14% increase from 2020), adapting to the moment will continue to be a core theme.
Teaming up with community partners, Breaktime cofounders Connor Schoen and Tony Shu are aiming to double the impact of their transitional employment program for young adults experiencing homelessness.
Building adaptability into company culture can help your business weather unforeseen changes while also fostering an inclusive and collaborative environment. Every business requires different strategies, but ahead are some actionable strategies for engineering adaptability into your business.
Prioritizing Learning and Development
The monotony that many people feel from staying at home can also provide an opportunity to learn something new. Businesses can build a culture of learning and development by hosting judgement-free sessions among employees to share lessons, as well as ramping up mentoring programs, lunch and learns or online adaptability training. To shake up the repetition of job tasks and duties, encouraging cross-training is another way to develop a more adaptable and well-rounded team. Skill targets will move with the times, and hosting recurring meetings to get feedback from team members helps to enable consistent collaboration.
Investing In Business Security Solutions
From video call-bombing to data breaches, security is a top concern for businesses. The Small Business Administration found that 88% of small business owners feel susceptible to a cybersecurity attack. And as remote work continues to be the norm, it’s wise to reevaluate security systems and invest in the latest protections and cloud software for needs like accounting. Some methods to safeguard your business include regularly backing up important documents, limiting access to data in a role-based system (meaning employees only have access to data that directly pertains to their work) and using a virtual private network (VPN), a secure, encrypted connection between a device and the Internet.
Using Tech to Adjust to Consumer Behavior
The pandemic has changed the way we buy and interact with brands and products. These patterns will continue to shift, and reports say businesses can better position themselves to meet their base’s needs by amping up tech capabilities. Airlines instituting contactless experiences like baggage drop-off and check-in are two examples of the industry building adaptability into its day-to-day operations. Other methods include retailers building a strong and flexible e-commerce experience and platform to businesses using data and analytics to streamline internal operations, solve real-time problems and forecast demand. Scaling a business’ tech solutions will help position an operation to thrive in an ever-changing market while keeping their mission at the center.
Partnering With Others to Maximize Impact
As much of the conversation on adapting in this moment revolves around innovation and speed, it’s important to also consider how not fully reinventing the wheel and cultivating partnerships can also boost adaptability. Throughout the development of Breaktime, a nonprofit that provides transitional employment to young adults experiencing homelessness, cofounders Tony Shu and Connor Schoen tapped into and partnered with the robust network of social impact organizations. That route has allowed them to double-down on their community cause while maximizing impact, keeping costs in check and adapting with the times. “Start with the questions of what other organizations are doing, how can we partner, how can we add value,” says Schoen. “You are not only adding value to the system, but you’re also working to create the most efficient model for your own organization by ensuring that you’re putting partnerships first in everything you do.”
Incorporating Flexibility in Operations And Hiring
The pandemic forced many businesses to be flexible when day-to-day operations went remote. Companies can promote a culture of adaptability by encouraging employees and teams to challenge existing processes, instead of following the status quo. Flexibility can be integrated into hiring, too. For example, after pivoting three times so far during the pandemic, Shu and Schoen are intentionally leaving Breaktime’s job descriptions open to attract flexible-minded employees. Says Shu: “If our model continues to evolve, they can be part of that pivoting.”