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COVID-19 teaches businesses that flexibility is a non-negotiable

Even the smartest minds around boardroom tables in many corporate companies could not have predicted that businesses around the world would be facing a crisis of this nature and this magnitude, writes David Seiner, founder and CEO of The Business Exchange (TBE).
COVID-19 has thrown a wrench into all business predictions and all 2020 plans. Anything that any business wanted to do this year, or likely even had planned for 2021, will have to be changed, or require a completely new approach. With South Africa now in lockdown, with enforced social distancing, it’s time for businesses to examine the ways in which they operate, specifically with regard to flexibility.
There are three key areas in which this crisis will force businesses to be flexible into the future.
Flexible team management 
I’m not saying that employees should be able to move around as they wish; not at all. But what businesses need to look at going forward is possibly splitting up their workforce in order to minimise future risk and disruption. At The Business Exchange, we are starting to see corporates enquire about office space, but not always for the whole company. For example, many are considering moving their finance team or their marketing team into one or more of our office spaces in order to keep the teams small, to reduce overall office costs, and ultimately reduce the risk of cross-infection not only in the COVID-19 scenario, but for other seasonal illnesses such as colds and flu which spread quickly through the workforce.
Flexibility in lease agreements 
Going forward, corporates are potentially going to look for opportunities that allow for flexible lease agreements so that they are able to adapt quickly in the event of a large-scale crisis. One of the many unfortunate consequences of COVID-19 and the South African lockdown, for instance, is the downscaling of teams and the smaller workforce, which has left many companies locked into long-term lease agreements that mean they are maintaining large and costly office spaces unnecessarily. As teams grow or shrink within our space, companies are equally able to adjust their work space needs. This means they don’t have to overpay when they restructure, but also enjoy peace of mind knowing that as they grow, so too can their office space. We have technology at TBE that monitors how teams work and how much space team members use, so corporations and companies would only pay for the space that they need.
Flexible business goals
Of course, one of the biggest ways in which businesses need to be flexible right now is with their 2020 business goals. For many, profit margins will be smaller than predicted and their client base will decrease, with negative consequences for income. To safeguard themselves into the future, businesses should relook at their goals for the next few years and rework their business plans accordingly.
We are living in very challenging times, with this unprecedented global crisis forcing us to take a long and hard look at our businesses and how we can adapt to the ever-changing landscape. We’re all learning how to be more flexible than ever before – both in business as well as in our personal lives.
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