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Managing Expectations in the New Normal

Earlier this week Governor Newsom announced that a small group of nonessential businesses, primarily in the retail sector, can reopen with certain restrictions as early as Friday, April 8. Additional Phase 2 announcements are expected any moment, allowing more and more Californians to return to work.
While the economy will slowly begin to rebound, we can’t expect our businesses to return to anything like the old normal anytime soon. It’s an important time for managing expectations — for our teams, our managers, our clients/customers and our other stakeholders.
Here are three things to remember when navigating towards the New Normal.
No More Business as Usual
COVID-19 and the more than two months of sheltering in place have forever changed how we work. Beyond the usual financial planning and organizational health activities, the office of the CFO will be involved in important discussions impacting how the business moves forward.
We may soon be allowed to reopen our offices, but what does that look like? How can we keep our employees safe and healthy? What needs to be done to ensure our offices promote social distancing? Should you consider a split workforce, with some team members continuing to work from home?  What does a post COVID-19 sick policy look like?
You may have reduced staff considerably. As business activity resumes, do you bring back full-time employees, consider fractional support or rely on temp staffing?
And, of course, what are the budget ramifications of all of these decisions?
Communication is Key
In times of uncertainty, it’s especially important to have clear and frequent communications with critical stakeholders — your team members, your investors, your customers or clients.
For your employees, frequent check-ins are important to keep up morale, productivity and a sense of connection. Be as transparent as possible about the return to work, shifts in strategy and any updates to company policy. Seek input and listen to concerns. You just might have a stronger, more loyal team on the other side of this crisis.
Be proactive in reporting to all stakeholders, even when the news is dismal. Uncertainty is the last thing anyone wants. Provide as much detail as possible, coupled with various models for successfully navigating to the recovery.
Finally, consider how to invest in your customers and clients now to create a stronger relationship for the post-COVID-19 world. Now is NOT the time to go dark.
Start Staffing for the Rebound
While no one knows for sure when the economy will start to recover, most every economist predicts a solid rebound by Q4. Regardless of when the curve bends, you should be planning for the bounce-back now.
Economic downturns and recessions often result in layoffs, furloughs and downsizing. Yet, in the long-run companies will likely continue to face the long-term talent shortages they have experienced in recent years, especially during and after the recovery. Our current downturn presents a unique opportunity to hire critical talent from other organizations so that you have the right team in place when the recovery speeds up.
Need help navigating any of these areas? Our team is standing by to help.
Useful Resources
Managing through COVID-19: Six Imperatives for CFOs (CFO Magazine)
Now is an Unprecedented Opportunity to Hire Great Talent (Harvard Business Review)
Maintain and Strengthen Your Culture in Times of Disruption (Gallup)