Pivoting in the new normal

One of the new business words to have come out of Covid-19 is ‘pivot’.

Who amongst us, and by that I mean business owners, are exactly where we thought we’d be this time last year? Surely not many, if any at all – perhaps other than those businesses and larger companies that were on the verge of closing prior to all of this and subsequently made the decision to call it a day.

Covid-19 threw up an absolute sh*tstorm of tough calls for many business owners and company bosses including the ultimate in tough calls – laying off staff or closing the doors altogether. For the majority of businesses that have been able to keep operating, Covid also laid down a wero (challenge) for us to ‘pivot’ in some way, whether it was to provide flexible working hours or work-from-home options, hold meetings online, or innovate the service or product offering such as turning alcohol into hand sanitiser.

Some restaurants that previously didn’t accept bookings now rely on them, particularly with customers needing to be socially distanced; others that were dine-in only have created take away menus that include even fine dining options as more people choose to “eat out at home”. Health, safety and hygiene policies and protocols and staff wellbeing and care have become welcome and much needed priorities across all sectors; and tourism operators that catered previously to the international market have redefined their product (including pricing) for the domestic visitor.

Many business owners have had to review and update their social media and websites to make sure customers can find them and their products easily, and then operate in a new, contactless way. The whole online surge has led to new opportunities for Kiwi artists and craftspeople to sell their wares, with New Zealanders determined to support locally grown, sourced, created, made and owned.

Aside from customer-facing industries such as hospitality and retail (for obvious reasons), many companies were reluctant even a year ago to adopt work-from-home or flexible working hours, believing it would impact on productivity and either ignoring or not quite buying into the research that showed this was not the case.

Mandating people to fill out their details or scan a QR code before entering every business would have been unheard of and protested against as an Orwellian Big Brother setback to democracy.

Targeting domestic rather than international clients would have been scoffed at – and yet here we all are. We have pivoted. And if we are still in business today we must plan and be prepared to pivot again, because as it turns out, nothing is guaranteed in this new environment of ‘Business as Unusual’.