The past few weeks have been unlike anything we’ve ever experienced in business. ‘Unprecedented’ is a word I’m hearing a lot in my conversations with agencies and marketers alike. As the Coronavirus shifts from being a looming concern to a very real impact, this lack of precedent has meant it’s hard for us to imagine how the next few weeks and months will play out.

Yet, there is one thing we all agree is guaranteed – Disruption!

Through these conversations though, I’m seeing examples of the best ways to manage and prepare for this disruption, and the worst, including doing nothing at all.  So I’ve compiled an overview of the best practices and insights we’re seeing right now from advertising and marketing business leaders we’ve met with across the industry. 

It’s fair to say that most businesses are already being disrupted by projects and budgets being paused or cut. However as we head into the coronavirus cyclone, the disruption is likely to start including:

  • Remote working by our own teams and our clients 
  • People taking time off either to recover after catching the bug or because they’d prefer to by away
  • Emergency briefs from clients who need to communicate various Coronavirus messages, or need support because their team is impacted by COVID-19. 

So, while the first disruption has been a loss of business, the next phases of disruption requires more forward planning to ensure our businesses are well placed to react confidently to the twists and the turns that are ahead of us all. 

Below is a checklist we’ve collated to prepare for the disruptions over the next few weeks:

  1. Is payroll set up to be handled remotely? 
  2. Do you have backup plans if people in critical roles get sick? – who can step in? Do you have freelancers on the ready? Do you have partners on the ready that can help you source talent at short notice?
  3. Do you have an online directory of numbers that everyone has access to? Including clients, partners, suppliers as well as staff.
  4. Does everyone in your team have slack (or similar messaging service) up and running? 
  5. Do you have online task management software (e.g. Asana) so that tasks can be agreed, distributed and shared without loads of meetings?
  6. Does everyone have online access to file servers?
  7. Have you organised virtual stand up meetings via Zoom or Google Hangouts to ensure BAU continues? 
  8. Have you provided instructions on expected working conditions and hours while at home? 
  9. Have you set clear protocols around travel and meetings with clients?
  10. Do you have scale up plans in place when business surges back once the normality returns.? Do you have quick and easy access to talent to help deliver work for your clients when they ‘switch’ back on 
  11. Have you revisited your forecasts and cashflow to know exactly where your business is? Have you put measures in place now to give yourself some breathing room from a cashflow perspective?
  12. Have you communicated your plans to your clients, partners and suppliers?
  13. Have you chased down your aged debtors and sought immediate payment? If there’s a lock down and people are working remotely, paying bills will simply take longer. 
  14. What are your leave policies during this period?

The best responses we’re seeing are from businesses who are already building resilience around critical roles or possible surges in work. They are building Rosters of freelancers so that when disruption occurs, the right people on hand to help. 

We are no longer taking face to face meetings ourselves, however for businesses wanting to learn how they can best do this for themselves, shoot us an email and we’d be happy to jump on a video call.

On a final note, many companies may want to build more flexibility in their team structure as they start to rebound. By establishing a core perm team, companies may want to lean into the best of the freelance community to help support project work moving forward. There’s never been a better time for this given the depth and quality of the current freelance community.

Below are some additional useful guides that might be useful:

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