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Experiencing Forced Downtime? Here Are Five Things You Can Do To Make The Best Of It.

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Right now, like many other businesses and organisations all over the world, you’ll likely be facing a series of unique challenges. Being quick to adapt is one way to stay afloat during the COVID-19 pandemic, but even if you’ve implemented a series of responsive changes, you still may be experiencing some forced downtime. Perhaps you have employees whose departments are seeing a vastly decreased workload, or maybe your primary line of business has fallen away significantly. A return might be on the horizon, but you’re likely looking at a bit of a wait until things pick up again.

However frustrating or worrying the COVID-19 situation may currently seem, Forced downtime is not always the disaster it appears to be. Cast your mind back a few months, before the pandemic took hold, and consider the pace of your daily operations. Amid keeping up with orders or managing customer enquiries, how often did you look at the fundamental aspects of your business? Your core values, your processes and your client base? If your answer is “not a whole lot”, then you’re certainly not alone. You might have also been aware some things weren’t working as well as they should, but practically speaking, who has time to rethink and restructure in the middle of a hectic workday? Well, guess what? You’ve probably got a bit of time right now.

Let’s take a look at five ways you can make the most of any forced downtime your business might be currently experiencing due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and you might be surprised to hear that staff training, and eLearning, in particular, has a critical role to play in each of them.

Reconnect With Your Mission Statement

Whatever line of business you might be in, you likely developed a mission statement at one point. Now’s a perfect time to dig it out and see how it holds up. Does it still represent the way you do business or the way you aim to run your operations? If so, are all your staff, from the top down, aware of it? Alternatively, you may have built your firm super quickly in response to demand or inherited a family business whose mission statement has been lost in the midsts of time. Well, there’s no time like the present to develop a relevant one. When the landscape looks uncertain, there’s nothing like a set of values for people to rally around. Online training via a Learning Management System, or LMS, is a great way to involve your teams in either developing a mission statement together or disseminating your company’s core values across the board.

A great LMS provides the perfect platform for communication, feedback and group activities – wherever your staff are currently working from. Online multimedia aspects to e-training mean video links, social media and elements like vlogs can be useful tools when it comes to bringing folks together. Elearning modules covering company values can be morale-boosting when a lack of customers and orders may be creating listlessness, or worries about job security might be taking hold. This period of downtime is an ideal opportunity to gather your staff together through online learning and make them feel like they are part of something with a future. Connecting with a goal through mobile apps, online conferencing and training will clarify where you’re all headed, and reworking a mission statement with the collaboration of the employees who run your operation should give everyone a sense of purpose and belonging. It might sound super basic, but connecting to your purpose and direction is a strong foundation – a foundation you’ll need to bounce back once this period of COVID-19 downtime is over.

Audit Your Company Processes

Just revisiting your mission statement isn’t likely to keep your whole firm busy for long, but it will probably lead you to all take a closer look at how your company currently works. Is the spirit of your mission statement visible anywhere in the way you ordinarily run things day-to-day? An audit of company processes is something that often gets put on the back burner, but this quieter period is an excellent opportunity to examine operations properly. Your Learning Management System is a useful tool to deploy here as it’s customisable, meaning you can quickly create documents and ways to find out how your staff usually get things done. Make the most of the feedback from training modules to tackle pain points or successes!

Additionally, online training software can be utilised to produce surveys for staff to report on specific areas of their jobs. You may find staff willing to engage with online platforms like a LMS much more readily than reporting in person to their supervisor. If you’re using great Learning Management software, any data collected can be organised into clear reports, which will make the job of evaluating how it’s all going far more easily interpreted.

Learn What Was Working & What Wasn’t before COVID-19 came along.

Which brings us neatly to the next point. Be honest: what’s working and what could do with improvement? Online tools not only provide a learning opportunity for employees but offer managers and head honchos ways to learn how and why some aspects of a business have been either failing or yielding great results. By engaging staff with their online training, you’ll be able to see what tasks they breeze through, and where they need little more help. Difficulties can lie in all sorts of areas, from processes to personality clashes and usually, excellent communication is a balm for most problems. For example, you might find that front of house hospitality staff have a backlog of tasks due to new recruits taking up too much of their time. Extra online learning modules delivered to newbies before they hit the restaurant or lobby floor could solve this. A staff member who always appears swamped might need better instruction on how to ask for help or a course in delegating. Feedback from experienced employees is valuable stuff too, and this period of downtime is an ideal moment to ask them what they need to overcome long-term or pending issues. Now is the time to capitalise on the information your LMS can deliver, and then use online training and communication to bring solutions to the table.

Use Automation Tools To Save Time

Faced with this unsettling and disruptive period of the COVID-19 downtime and the uncertainty that comes along with it, making the most of things is the best way forward. Once you’re making headway with bringing your workforce together and using your LMS to do a thorough audit of how your operations have been working, recognise you’ve created a positive change. Once economies reopen and the daily workload returns (and it will!) do make the most of the online tools you have to avoid operational problems in the future. One of the ways you can do this with training software is to explore some of the automation features your Learning Management System offers. You might have found some key staff have requested regular refresher training in certain areas. Your LMS can issue those on a monthly or fortnightly basis automatically instead of relying on administrative staff to remember. More generally speaking, take a close look at any current operational issues within your company. Can specific tasks be automated? If you can lighten employee workloads and still get things done, go for it.

Reconnect With Your Audience

Lastly, we’d like to wrap up this post with a few lines about the most important aspect of your business: your audience. One thing we’ve all perhaps learned during this difficult period of physical distancing and self-isolating is how vital our communities and our connections are. We’re social creatures, and whether we’re supporting friends or family members, or providing a service, valuable interactions with others bring positivity and wellbeing. Business, particularly the hospitality industry, isn’t just about delivering as many units of a product as possible; it’s about making positive and lasting impressions on your clients.
Just as your employees are possibly feeling rattled by the current global situation, so is your audience. This means they’re going to need some reassurance from you. Use your eLearning sessions to encourage your staff to build on the excellent customer service skills you’ve hired them for and reach out through training feedback sessions for great ideas to bring regular customers back into the fold. And remember, new customers are often attracted by the same things that retain existing ones. Your period of company soul searching might have revealed some things you’re doing well that you could do more of in other areas of your business, things that your customers truly appreciate. Having reconnected to your mission statement, you might suddenly find you have a powerful message to put out there.

The COVID-19 downtime presents us with a good time to engage with our audience. Reconnect and let them know who you are as a company. If you’re able to effectively communicate how you’re working on getting through this, and why they can put their trust in you, then you’ll be in a strong position to resume business once COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.