When COVID-19 hit, most of us—most of the world—was taken by surprise. A global pandemic was the furthest thing from all of our minds. No business, or business leader, could have been prepared. And yet, as shocking it was, and as much as it impacted our lives and economies, some businesses fared far better than others. But why?
It’s a great question, and one that’s worth thinking about, because the businesses who figure out the answer will survive and thrive in the face of major obstacles and challenges. Those who don’t will struggle to stay afloat when disaster strikes.
So, why were some businesses more prepared than others? Turns out, the better-prepared businesses had a business playbook—documented, company-approved policies and processes that gave their teams a sense of confidence and security. And, if you want your company to be better prepared to face any future challenges, you should have a playbook too.
Set Remote Workers Up for Success
Before the pandemic, the vast majority of employees worked on-site, in the office. During COVID-19, though, that all changed. People were required to work from home, which meant many companies had to scramble to figure out how to maintain productivity when employees were off-site.
Even now, when most businesses have opened back up, many employees continue to work remotely. Virtual work appears to be here to stay: at our company, for example, 15 percent of our current workforce has never set foot in our office.
Given this new reality, it’s important that companies have a way to set their remote workers up to be happy and hyper-successful. And with a business playbook, companies can achieve exactly that.
A playbook gives each person a sense of what is expected of them. Just as importantly, it aligns people around your company culture and values. The bottom line is that the playbook lays a foundation for everyone to be on the same page and helps them see how they fit into the organization and the team—something that might otherwise be a challenge, especially with fully remote workers.
Help People Quickly Find Answers
With more and more people working remotely, more and more people are logging onto their work systems and computers virtually. In many ways, that’s made work more efficient, but it’s also made it harder to quickly find answers if you have a question or a problem. After all, you can’t just slide your chair over and ask your coworker how to do something!
When you have a business playbook, though—one that’s easily accessible to remote workers as well as people physically in the office—this issue is avoided. The playbook shares who does what. It captures each person’s roles and responsibilities in one single, searchable place.
It doesn’t stop there. A good playbook also includes all the how-tos: the step-by-step processes that allow each task to be completed in an efficient, productive, successful way. With a business playbook, you don’t need to have your coworker right next to you to help you answer a question. The answer is in the playbook.
This is useful in a wide variety of situations (above and beyond what we saw during the pandemic). For example, if one of your employees is out sick or on vacation, the person filling in for them can use the playbook to guide them through how to perform all the necessary tasks. No matter what the situation is, having a playbook empowers people, lessens the learning curve, and reduces the time spent answering questions.
Keep People Up-to-Date on Policies
The last 18 months have been drenched in drama. We’ve seen mask mandates, office safety protocol, vaccine and booster requirements, and in some cases, we’ve even seen some companies taking a stance on social issues. To add to the chaos, policies seem to shift and change by the day, so it’s sometimes hard for people to know exactly what the current policies are.
Of course, COVID-19 isn’t the only thing that companies have policies about. Legal requirements, benefits, and cultural norms all require policies too. And, while these policies may not change as much as the ones around the pandemic, people still need to be made aware of them.
Again, that’s where your playbook comes in. It lays out, in no uncertain terms, where your company stands, what is and is not okay for people to do, and what people can expect in any given situation, whether that relates to claiming short-term disability or your office dress code.
Think about it: if you don’t draw clear boundaries for what you expect, how can you expect anything? As the pandemic showed, unexpected crises can come up at any time. Everyone on your team will be better off if you take the time to establish policies that support them before an urgent situation forces you to make things up on the fly.
Aim to Over-Communicate
At the end of the day, having a playbook is about over-communicating. It’s about giving employees everything they need to handle anything that comes their way, because as COVID-19 showed, there’s no way to predict what challenges we will face.
Using a playbook to proactively record and document who you are as a company, who does what, how you do what you do, and what guidelines your team should follow is crucial if you want to keep everyone on the same page and operating at the highest levels of productivity, efficiency, and morale. As the pandemic clearly illustrated, companies that do that have always been successful, but it’s more important now than ever.
For more advice on how to create a playbook for your company, you can find The Business Playbook on Amazon.
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