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It’s always interesting to look forward and attempt to predict what another new year will bring. 
Interestingly (and, we would like to say, with remarkable foresight … but can’t) we didn’t do that last year. Whatever we might have predicted would have been spectacularly wrong
However, we’re feeling both optimistic and brave this year, so we’ve been thinking about predictions and useful advice we can offer. 

Keeping in touch 

Our first prediction is that keeping in touch with your customers, employees, suppliers and stakeholders throughout the year will build your business reputation and you will benefit from increased loyalty in the longer term. 
You don’t have to invest heavily in advertising or marketing campaigns. A personal approach will be best. Take time to explain how you are responding to changing conditions and how you will continue to provide your products and services. If that’s not possible, offer useful advice and reassurance. 
Create a communication plan that covers all the important people for your business. Decide what will be useful or valuable to share with them and put time aside to make sure it happens. 

Embracing new ways of working 

It’s also clear that the changes we have seen in working patterns and use of technology are here to stay. While online meetings and ecommerce have entered the lives of even the most change-resistant organisations, the ones that embrace new ways of working will move ahead much more quickly as restrictions start to lift. 
Make sure you take these new ways of engaging with people seriously and treat them as professionally as any other business activities. That includes: 
creating a professional branded background for your online meetings (or at the very least, using one of the pre-loaded backgrounds) 
dressing appropriately for video calls and meetings and behaving with respect (no eating, texting or leaving the meeting to accept a home delivery) 
if you need to give a presentation, think about creating a video using the animations in PowerPoint so that you don’t have to speak to a screen for too long. 
converting previous face to face activities like consultations, briefings or shopping to suit a new remote way of working 
managing how you use the options available to you, for example thinking carefully whether an email would be better than a video call or setting up options to share documents and information on Google, OneDrive or Dropbox. 
for your own wellbeing, also think about how much time you’re spending using technology and have a plan to manage it. 

Reviewing, revising and reimagining 

Businesses that actively reimagine their products or services in our new environment will be seen as proactive and positive, which can only benefit your brand in the longer term. 
It’s true that you can’t get your hair cut online, but plenty of hairdressers and beauticians have given online tutorials on how to manage your new longer or greyer hair and giving beauty tips or, for people who are feeling bold, advice about how to do things for themselves. 
Yoga teachers and fitness instructors have found they can be much more productive when they hold one-to-one online sessions with their clients as an alternative to home visits. 
We have seen how retailers and the hospitality sector have found clever new ways to engage with their customers and to provide services in different ways during 2020. 
The key is to focus on what you can do, rather than what you can’t. 

Being positive 

Of course, the coronavirus pandemic means that there are plenty of things to worry about. However, we’re moving forward all the time, so it’s important to focus on the positive difference you and your business can make. 
This can include using your resources and skills to help people deal with the challenges they are facing. 
If your employees are furloughed, support them to provide help in their local community. If your equipment is idle you might be able to use it to make a difference. 
Finally, think about what you will want to feel proud about, when we can look back on these exceptional times. 
We’re always happy to help businesses that want to share their stories, so please get in touch if you would like some advice or support. 
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