It’s never been more important for your company to prepare for the worst. While the pandemic forced companies to close their doors overnight, other factors like supply chain issues prevented companies from operating at full capacity.

Even years after the initial shutdown, there’s still anxiety surrounding the economy. Americans from all walks of life worry about inflation and a looming recession. Natural disasters, which have increased in frequency thanks to climate change, have been destroying businesses in their paths more and more — no matter if they’re carbon-neutral or not.

Here are just a few additional shocks that your business has to prepare for so you can jump into action when the time comes:

  • Economic downturns;
  • Geopolitical conflicts from companies you serve or receive supplies from;
  • Natural disasters that grind production to a halt;
  • Political changes that affect your workers and customer base;
  • New technologies that pose both threats and opportunities.

Although there are plenty of threats to your business, don’t panic. Build business resilience to improve your company’s ability to respond effectively during a crisis (or any period of change).

Prioritize Safety

The first thing to remember when developing resiliency is to prioritize employee safety above all else. You can’t put a price on human lives and you can do more damage to your company in the long run if you jeopardize your workers. Not only are OSHA complaints costly, but negative press about your safety standards can dissuade clients and job candidates from working with you.

In all of your crisis plans, develop simulations for protecting your team members. For example, if a hurricane is approaching your area, know which employees will stay home. Know which team members are considered essential. Make sure they have the right tools to ride out the storm.

Safety is also not something most business owners think about until it’s too late — an all-too-common trend in the business world. Therefore, employees have to face the ramifications of their employers’ actions — even if they saw any discrepancies in their safety training in the first place. In fact, 75% of employees believe their employer’s safety efforts haven’t been very effective. You owe it to your employees to protect them during times of change.

Allow For Flexible Work

Remote work or flexible work is hardly a recent construct. However, when the global pandemic reached the United States, many companies first reacted by closing their offices and sending employees home to work remotely. Now that the pandemic has eased up, employers are calling employees back to the office. Nearly half (49%) of remote workers have returned to the office full-time — even though 97% of workers prefer some form of remote or hybrid work.

Flexible work is also in your business’s best interest in the future. It builds resilience. The companies that were best prepared for the pandemic already had remote work policies and technology in place. If regional and global disruptions affect your company, you can immediately switch back to remote work.

Consider reviewing your hybrid work policies annually and offer your employees flexible work options. Not only will this make your company more resilient, but it will help recruitment efforts.

Strengthen IT Infrastructure and Security

A 2023 report by Cisco found that only 15% of companies are ready to face cybersecurity threats. This is a shockingly low number considering 82% of respondents, “expect a cybersecurity incident to disrupt their business in the next 12 to 24 months.” Of the companies surveyed who experienced a cybersecurity incident, 41% said it cost them at least $500,000.

You can avoid this and build business resilience by preparing for and preventing cybersecurity attacks. To do so, always stay vigilant against potential breaches, insecure information, and entry points cybercriminals can take advantage of.

Develop high-tech and low-tech ways to protect your company from cybercrime. Along with building an expert IT department you can trust, train your employees. Even entry-level interns and temp workers should understand the signs of a phishing scam and know how to avoid suspicious emails. This knowledge can prevent a high number of cyber threats.

Diversify the Supply Chain

The pandemic also highlighted the importance of maintaining a diverse supply chain in the event of global (and even regional disruptions). When factories closed in Mexico and China, American companies couldn’t get the parts they needed to assemble their products. A port backlog on the West Coast kept countless products stuck in customs for several months. Even a single cargo ship getting jammed in the Suez Canal caused months of headaches in the supply chain.

If anything, these instances illustrated how easily businesses can suffer from supply issues if they don’t diversify their supply chain sources. Try to have an immediate backup plan if your suppliers can’t work with you. This applies to both local and national suppliers. If there is a local crisis (like a natural disaster) know you can get materials from another state or country.

You can also look into other ways to build your resiliency through sustainability. For example, you won’t have to rely on gas trucks reaching your area if you invest in solar. When the power goes out, your company will be prepared.

Expand Service and Product Offerings

There are times when even the most resilient companies can’t get the supplies they need. To avoid being heavily impacted by these situations, diversify your product line so you can attract new customers or provide existing buyers with products and services they can use.

To illustrate this, consider how the price of eggs increased by 70% over the past year. A resilient bakery would look into developing vegan desserts or explore eggless recipes to cut costs and provide new products that customers want. Think about what eggs represent in your business and how you can work around this problem.

Equip For Essential Continuity

During a crisis, you might not be able to operate at full capacity, but you should still operate at survival mode in some capacity. You still need to communicate with your team members to tell them the office is closed or to make sure they are safe. You still need to protect your materials or products with security systems and climate control (depending on your industry).

Strip down your business to essential operations and develop backup infrastructure to keep them going. If there is an unexpected shock to your business, these backup systems kick in. For example, a power outage in your business would trigger a backup generator with solar panels to turn on. Additionally, position your solar panels in a way that increases its maximum energy efficiency, such as opting for a roof mount so they get sun all day and won’t have to rely on energy when their reserve runs out.

Remember to test these systems regularly. You don’t want to install your contingency systems only to realize they have broken or become outdated because of a lack of maintenance. In the case of solar systems, this means modeling the power production of them for optimal output.

Create a Plan and Practice

Each of these resiliency solutions boils down to this: having a plan and having a backup plan.

Your team needs to have detailed continuity plans that you can exact when something goes wrong. These plans need to be reviewed and tested regularly so everyone on your team knows what they need to do. Just like a fire drill, make sure there is a plan if a natural disaster shuts down the company unexpectedly.

Next, your organization needs backup strategies and options in place to overcome obstacles in your plans. This will prevent disruptions to your business, and keep your team calm in case something goes wrong.

Planning and practice can do wonders for your company’s resiliency, even if a crisis occurs that you hadn’t thought about before.