The Covid-19 virus is a health catastrophe and, for many families and communities the world over, its legacy will live on for decades. Families and communities are made up of people and it is also a health crisis for businesses and companies as they are made up of people too.

During lockdown, many business owners decided they would at last take heed of the advice they have always been taught and take the opportunity to work ‘on’ instead of ‘in’ their business. Many felt with time to spare they could start working on all of the plans they had developed but never got round to putting into motion. Things like appraisal systems, staff handbooks and customer journey mapping which had all been sitting on the backburner could now, finally, be addressed.

Despite these good intentions, what really happened was that after furloughing most of their teams, owners ended up answering the phones, running reception, repairing broken glasses and delivering contact lenses.

Business owners need to realise that, if they want a successful and sustainable practice, they have to make time to work on their business and, if they don’t do it now, there’s a real risk that they never will.

Now, as people start returning to work, these systems and processes need to be re-evaluated, something that can, in many cases, have a profound effect. The streamlining of systems and processes to align with the needs of protecting the staff and patients has included a renewed focus on understanding of patient needs. This in turn is leading to higher quality frames being dispensed, better lenses being chosen and, often, the need for other pairs of spectacles being uncovered.

It is clear from the business owners I have spoken to is that the number one thing on the minds of most employees today is personal financial security. They are of course worried about their health but above all they are worried about their jobs and the viability of the business. Losing a job affects their ability to take care of their families and, particularly for millennials and the younger workforce, they are also worried about how this may affect their career.

As people come back, we are seeing in many cases a new level of trust and transparency between business owners and their staff, and between colleagues. This is leading to better outcomes for their customers and patients.

What if, in bringing people back, we can adopt this new level of trust and transparency and have our teams more aligned in their ability and desire to deliver the best possible outcomes for their customers and their businesses?

One of the judgements that owners have always had to balance is whether to reward the individual or the team. Both have pros and cons, however, the trend over recent years has been a shift towards rewarding the team rather than the individual. During this crisis we have seen an acceleration of this trend.

As I mentioned earlier, owners have had the opportunity to re-evaluate their businesses and reassess their priorities. They had a chance to understand the challenges and barriers in the way of their staff and to get these removed as we come back from lockdown.

Many business owners took the opportunity to bring their furloughed staff up to date with training and development. The ones who have done this successfully have been rewarded with a more agile and self-sufficient workforce. This means they can trust their employees to deliver the best service for customers without micromanagement, allowing everyone to get on with their job to their best ability.

Some have taken the steps to remove unfairness and those businesses have seen an improvement in team morale and togetherness.

What if Covid-19 is the catalyst for you to reset your business and get your teams working together like never before?

One question remains. Is the current change of culture in many businesses temporary or permanent? Those businesses that are reporting record days and amazing customer feedback will not wish for it to end. At the same time, those businesses who did not take this opportunity to change things need to look at those who have and ask themselves some tough questions.

One way to think of this crisis is that it has been the greatest opportunity to learn fast in decades. By keeping an open mind, we can learn about our people, our businesses and our customers and make our companies more enduring in the future.

The silver lining in this crisis is the opportunity to raise the bar and keep it there. It is an opportunity for business owners and their teams to work together to decide how and why they are going to keep this newfound sense of purpose.

So my last question is not a ‘what if’ but a ‘how can’.

My challenge to you this month is…

How can I make sure that I can look back in a few years time and say Covid-19 was the best thing that ever happened to my business, career or job?