2020 created an endless stream of disruption for most businesses. The pandemic shuttered brick-and-mortar stores. Employees were laid off or sent home to work remotely. A sputtering economy reduced consumer confidence and spending.
This left many organizations strapped for cash and operating with a reduced and geographically isolated staff. If this scenario describes your company, here are a few suggestions for ways to increase your operational efficiency going into 2021.
1. Use the Right Business Tools
It’s difficult to be efficient if you don’t use the right tools. This applies to every area of business. Start 2021 by taking the time to review your team’s available tools.
Does your marketing department have social media, email, and content management tools available? Does your accounting department have automation software to streamline things like payroll and invoicing? Should you join a group purchasing organization to help reduce costs and time spent on ordering business essentials? Look for areas where your teams’ tools need to be upgraded or even replaced altogether.
2. Stay Connected
Communication has never been more important than in the remote-work era. As individuals and even entire companies shift to a remote-first format, it’s crucial that clear lines of communication be maintained.
These should focus on keeping coworkers and team members in close contact. They should also smooth interdepartmental conversations as well as vertical communication from employers to employees and vice versa. Comb over your internal communication channels and make sure everything is optimized heading into 2021.
3. Manage Remote Workers Wisely
If all or even part of your team will be working remotely for the foreseeable future, they must be managed properly. This includes:
- Communicating with your team in order to keep everyone on the same page.
- Avoiding the urge to micromanage activity from a distance.
- Empowering employees by trusting them with responsibility and delegated tasks.
- Providing resources and guidelines to help your remote workers thrive.
By investing in the proper management of your remote staff, you can set them up to operate productively throughout the upcoming year.
4. Invest in Your Company Culture
Company culture is the bedrock of long-term success. It can also be an intrinsic part of improving the efficiency of your organization by encouraging your staff to invest themselves in their work.
When asked, 54% of employees reported that they had stayed at a job longer than was in their best interest. The reason? Because they had a strong sense of belonging and community. This sense of belonging, commitment, and engagement can be fostered by establishing a widely shared set of beliefs throughout your company.
5. Consider the Customer
Most efficiency tips tend to focus on internal operations. Nevertheless, your customers should still remain clearly in focus at all times. Each decision should consider how it will be perceived by your target audience.
In addition, every action that you take should be broken down in terms of how it ultimately helps you meet your customers’ needs. By maintaining a customer-centric perspective throughout your business dealings you can consistently operate in a manner that is efficiently focused on success.
6. Create an Online Strategy
The coronavirus has shifted many activities online in an unprecedented fashion. E-commerce and online marketing have stolen the spotlight, as can be seen in the success of companies like Shopify over the past year.
Most businesses have adapted to an online sales and marketing model. However, many have done so in a haphazard manner due to the urgency of the situation. If you want to increase your efficiency in 2021, take the time to draft an overarching strategy that organizes and improves your existing online efforts. This should address:
- Your website’s user experience.
- Your customer communication channels.
- Your online marketing strategy.
Each of the above items should be vetted with an eye toward how they can be improved moving forward.
7. Hone Interdisciplinary Skills
Efficiency is often characterized by a focus on a single skill set. Each member of a team addresses a different concern in a highly-efficient professional manner. However, with so many team members working in isolation, there are many interdisciplinary skills that should be developed in every employee.
IT skills are particularly important, as they can help with troubleshooting tech on the homefront. A familiarity with tech can also enable employees to learn new software systems more easily. Teaching employees tech-skills is an effective way to keep a team operating at peak efficiency.
8. Analyze and Grow
Finally, always take the time to analyze how well your efficiency efforts are playing out. This can be done by setting clear goals and benchmarks now, as you begin to make efficiency-focused changes. Then schedule points in the future when you can measure your success (or lack thereof). As you do so, make adjustments when necessary.
In addition to analysis, your team should also maintain a growth mindset. The uncertainty of the upcoming year demands a willingness to perpetually learn, grow, and adapt to one’s circumstances.
There’s no doubt that the past year has been uniquely challenging. Nevertheless, there are many ways that you can optimize your business efforts heading into 2021. Everything from tools and communication to culture, perspective, online strategies, interdisciplinary skills, and a growth mindset can create a smoother path for your company as you operate throughout the next year.