Using an Economic Downturn as a Catalyst to Increase Productivity

by | Apr 22, 2020

In times of economic uncertainty, many companies have to reassess and pivot from their usual routine. COVID-19 has caused the world’s economy to halt to a standstill. Though our new normal consists of uncertainty, coupled with some fear and trepidation, hope and unity are also driving our communities. Companies who use this downturn to drive productivity can emerge stronger and better positioned for success than they were prior to the virus.

In the case of COVID-19, we are seeing a mass introduction of remote work in industries that are able to sustain it. While the majority of companies have previously offered work from home (WFH) options to some employees, this is the first time that most – if not all – are working this way. While it may have taken a while for employees and managers to adjust, many companies are able to keep their doors open through remote work. While COVID-19 has had a drastic effect on our economy and not all companies are able to simply WFH and resume business as usual, many fortunate organizations have been able to seamlessly adjust and continue to do business.

For those reasons, some experts expect a sharp rise in positions that are 100% remote. More employees will likely WFH once we move beyond the virus. Companies see that employees are still productive even when they are working away from the office. Through email, phones, and tools like Slack, Zoom, and GoToMeeting, it is easy to remain in contact and engaged with team members. Plus, the price is right for employers, as companies save an average of $11,000 per half-time telecommuter per year. While this rise in WFH has been brought on by unfortunate circumstances, companies could ultimately look at it as a long-term cost-saving option and a way to bring in additional talent who may not be located close to headquarters.

In difficult times, such as these, it’s also imperative for the CEO and others in leadership positions to convey strength and unity, while aiming to keep morale up. When there is an economic downturn, it’s necessary that employees feel a connection and commitment to their company. Leaders that can encourage employees to be productive and to do their best work in tough times are crucial to the success of an organization. After all, 63.4% of executives believe that having a sense of purpose and aspiration beyond their day-to-day commercial mission made their company more innovative. When morale is high and team members are encouraged to think outside the box, you increase the chances for product innovations and new discoveries. Companies that increase productivity during economic downturns boost their chances of success both during the downturn and after the economy recovers.

Additionally, an economic downturn is an optimal time to do some research and see how your company can tap into current trends or fill a niche market. For example, during COVID-19, many breweries and distilleries are producing hand sanitizer for customers picking up curbside orders. While they are not profiting off of this tactic, they are supplying a necessary product to their customers, thus providing goodwill which leads to positive publicity for their organization. While challenging economies are unfortunate, they can also expose unmet customer needs. If an innovative business can successfully identify new avenues for revenue, repackage current offerings, or even produce new services or merchandise, they can find a way to target a whole new set of prospects.

Finally, during economic hardship, it can be hard to think of the boom that will return once the country and world recover. Since the economy was considered strong prior to COVID-19, experts are hopeful there will be a resurgence once the virus has been contained. The best thing companies can do now is make plans for after it has passed. Take a look at company-wide strengths and weaknesses. Identify what can be improved. What projects or products can you release when the economy recovers? Be productive, proactive, and prepare projects to begin once the tide has turned. Planning for the eventual uptick in the economy will put your company in the best position to hit the ground running.

During an economic downturn, it’s important to review your current technology and confirm that your organization is properly utilizing its solutions. Contact us to learn how we can help you better leverage your legacy systems to drive productivity in a time of uncertainty.


-Amanda Bierfeld Williams, Marketing Coordinator at GT Software