2020 Lessons Learned During COVID-19

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At MainSpring, we are looking back at 2020. I can think of a long list of words to describe an unforgettable year. What started as a booming economy turned into turbulence by March 2020. 

Our team learned many lessons. I am sure that your business team and your family can say the same. We learned about new ways to communicate, and we knew that everyone changes and creates new habits.

We also learned that we need to tell a new story for 2021. And we need to prepare for new ways of doing business. We are all still learning.

Here are five lessons learned by Team MainSpring. We are sharing our lessons learned in 2020 to be the framework for 2021 planning.

Lesson one: transparent and frequent communication is paramount.

At no other time has communication been paramount to all other daily tasks. During COVID-19, the conversation became the glue that keeps a team motivated. Transparent communication, whether good or bad, relieves stress. It builds a bond with employees that are now part of the remote workforce.

I recently wrote a blog on Inspire 2021, which includes late 2020 statistics from the WFH workforce. Did you know that most WFH staff would like to hear from co-workers more often?  You may think that your WFH team is happy working in their own bubble, but that is not the case. They are craving communication.

We have all changed the methods of communication. As a technology management and integration company, our focus remains on secure communications. As we continue to WFH, we all continue to use email, messaging, and Zoom offerings. Take a moment and review the MainSpring guide to secure communications.

Even as some employees return to the office in 2021, it is vital to continue the techniques recently created. Include remote workers in the communication channel.  

Work with mentors and team leaders to gather feedback. Do your employees feel included and part of the team? Are their questions answered? Or do you need to improve communication?

Lesson two: your employees are changing

In March of 2020, your employees became part of a national remote workforce overnight.  Some may not have had adequate technology at home, and many had childcare and homeschooling issues. The national news is still non-stop coverage of the crisis. Most are still working from home in November 2020. 

It only takes a few weeks to change a habit. It also only takes a few weeks for at-home and social stressors to change your employee—and we are now in month nine. Your company has changed—and so have your employees.

As you welcome your employees back in 2021 or move forward with a changing WFH workforce, keep in mind that your employees have changed, and so have their habits.  Be prepared for employees to bring some of their WFH practices back into the office.  What are some of those habits that may impact your business? Here is a list compiled by Team MainSpring:

  1. Are your employees using corporate hardware or software subscriptions for personal use? Perhaps they are watching Netflix or shopping on-line from their business laptop or using hardware for virtual learning-homeschooling? 
  2. Are you sure that everyone in your WFH team uses a secure private network and not free WIFI outside of their home office?
  3. Are your employees over-working? Statistics show that the WFH environment is pushing employees to work too many hours. A break may just be a benefit to creativity. Is everyone taking their allotted vacation?
  4. Consider shifting work hours for employees that are also homeschooling their children.  Can some business tasks be completed off-hours? 
  5. Hopefully, many will return to the office in 2021. Now is the time to create a "re-entry plan." Your employees have changed. What's the best way to welcome them back to the office?

Lesson three: we must secure corporate information

Out of the 5 lessons learned during COVID-19, the importance of securing corporate information can not be overlooked.

Remote work presents a unique challenge for information security because remote work environments don't usually have the same safeguards as in the office. When an employee is at the office, they are working behind layers of preventive security controls. While not perfect, it is harder to make a security mistake while at the office. However, when computers leave the perimeter and people work remotely, new risks arise for the company, and additional security policies are essential.”  CISecurity.com

I just told you that both home and business stressors are changing your employees. You may find that your remote workforce picked up a few bad habits while out of the office. Now is the time for a refresher course on corporate security procedures. 

As employees return to the office or move forward with a remote work plan, ensure that corporate information is secure. Now is the perfect time to introduce a security training protocol. Review MainSpring’s security awareness program and plan an assessment. 

Lesson four: it is time to consider hiring contractors

Did your business model change during the COVID-19 crisis? Or do you need to replace employees or maybe even grow your team? Keep in mind that you can change your Operational Plan by hiring contractors. 

Often, contractors are already well-versed in the WFH environment. They have a project-based mindset. In 2021, you can hire contractors to assist with one project, manage your IT needs, or become your team members for the year.

Lesson five: we may need to adjust our story

You can build a community around your brand by telling your story. This works for both entrepreneurs and corporations as they realize that their story has changed. The COVID crisis changed everyone’s business method.  If you expanded your e-Commerce plan or now offer home delivery, or the crisis spurred the launch of a new product, it is time to adjust your story.

When it is time to adjust your story, it is also time to review your IT needs. You pivoted in 2020. Did you adapt your IT plan?

Continue to Learn

As business leaders, mentors, and coaches, we must continue to learn. We must evolve with the ever-changing landscape. What does the future hold? We do not know. Sitting at our desk in February 2020, we had no idea what was just around the corner. The true leader knows how to pivot in a crisis. Be the leader and change as you learn.