At the end of March 2020, Way We Do sent out a survey to build our understanding of how COVID-19 was impacting those of you who are both companies and not-for-profit organizations.
The results surprised us.
They reflect a clear sense that there’ll be winners and losers throughout the crisis, but even the downside won’t be all doom and gloom for all. In the coming months, we’ll re-run the survey to gather insights on whether you’ve changed your beliefs about the impacts on your businesses, and in what ways we can best support you, the Way We Do community.
We’re grateful to the business owners and managers who completed the survey. The responses came in from a breadth of industries, ranging from a single employee, to more than 250.
Impacts of COVID-19
When we asked “How much do you think COVID-19 will affect your business or organization?”, 21.4% of respondents said the virus wouldn’t have too much of an impact, or that only some adjustments may be required.
Nearly 43% said the impact would be significant and were expecting a few tough months ahead, but they felt confident they’d get through it. At just over 14%, the remaining respondents said there were very concerned about the impacts. The group divided evenly between those who felt they’d survive and prosper on the other side of the crisis, and those who felt they may not survive if it continues for an extended period.
The negative affects of the crisis are real, and at the time of the survey, business owners and managers thought the risks included reduced trade (53.6%), reduced trading hours and temporary closure (57.1%), difficulty paying bills, wages, rent and tax (7%), reduction in staff (42.9%), and the risk of closure (14.3%).
For other organizations that believed they’d benefit from the COVID-19 situation, 10.7% said they will increase trade and profit from the crisis.
How teams will be redeployed
We asked participants if they intended to retain staff during the crisis, and if so, how they’d redeploy them in the case of any reduction in their commercial activity. The majority (64.3%) said they’d improve their internal systems and processes. In support of this statement, we’ve had new customers signing up to Way We Do over the last four weeks with the intention of streamlining their operations.
In business media reporting, we’re seeing a surge in new small businesses, and in existing organizations reinventing their products and services. Our survey showed 35.7% of respondents will be creating new products or services, and 57.1% will develop a plan to benefit the organization, post-COVID-19. For many, new products and services are part of that plan, as well as carrying out their own customer research (28.6%).
Working from home and cyber security
Over half of respondents said they’d have their teams work remotely during COVID-19, while 32.1% were still contemplating this, and 14.3% stated their teams would not work remotely.
With many employees working from home, 57% of organizations were implementing “work from home” procedures, incorporate industry best practice recommendations to boost cyber security processes. Only 17.1% of the respondents said they were implementing information security management processes, showing a considerable gap between those operating remotely and those ensuring their data is secure. This may suggest an over reliance by small business owners and managers on technology and software companies to secure data on their behalf, without verifying the security practices of those companies. Data security is the business owner or manager’s responsibility, so it’s vital you have information security management systems in place — whatever the size of your business.
The response to the final question showed just how many organizations weren’t prepared for disaster events, and didn’t have remote working options as part of their risk management strategies. In recent weeks, we’ve seen many businesses scrambling to document their work from home policies, procedures and processes.