COVID-19 upends business as usual

Posted on May 29, 2020 :: Commentary
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Posted by , Insight on Business Staff Writer

Most businesses and organizations started 2020 with a plan — one I am guessing did not include a global pandemic and Safer at Home orders that closed businesses and schools and sent employees home to work. Organizations had to rethink their processes and figure out what they could and couldn’t do.

It’s been no different at Insight Publications. When Gov. Tony Evers closed the state’s K-12 schools and put the first Safer at Home order into effect in mid-March, we all packed up and headed home to work. (OK, publisher Brian Rasmussen still came to the office, but he had the whole place to himself.) COVID-19 upended plans for stories we had slated in both our May and June issues, including the original May cover story. Quick thinking was required as we switched gears and began working on different articles.

Another change we encountered was how to handle our proofing process. Instead of Associate Editor Jessica Thiel and me being in the office together and passing the proofs back and forth, we have moved them in paper bags from my house to Jessica’s and then finally on to the home of our lead designer, Bryan Aschenbrenner, who has made the changes. (It’s a good thing we all live fairly close to one another.) It’s obviously taken more time than working together in the office, but we have developed a workable solution.

Insight is more than just a monthly magazine and a website with breaking regional business news. We also connect with our readers, advertisers and community members at our events. When Safer at Home went into effect, we were about two weeks away from our first-ever Women of Influence in the New North Region Awards luncheon. We had planned the event for months and were so excited as the date approached.

We first tried to reschedule the event, but since no one really knows when it will be safe for groups of 200-plus people to gather once again, Insight decided to make the event virtual. The adjustment hasn’t been easy — we’ve never done a virtual event before. We have switched gears once again and are working through the process, learning as we go and relying on trusted partners and vendors to make sure everything flows smoothly. So now instead of gathering for a luncheon awards event, everyone will be able to livestream the virtual event at 4 p.m. on July 29. Watch our social media posts and your email as well as this magazine to learn more details about the event.

Why am I sharing all of this? Because I know each business and organization is doing something similar — modifying their processes and procedures to accommodate employees working from home or changing direction altogether, just as we have done with our events. Retailers and restaurant owners have seen their worlds turned upside down, but many restaurants are now offering takeout and delivery for the first time,
and some retailers have begun offering their items online.

Organizations are now facing another challenge — when and how to bring back their employees who have been working from home. They need to think about new protocols including: Do workstations need to be moved? What about spacing in public areas, such as the lunch room? How often will areas be cleaned? It’s yet another hurdle business leaders must get over.

The days are so busy, and trying out something new isn’t always easy, but we have figured out a way — just like other businesses out there. Instead of only thinking about how difficult the past two months have been, consider your successes. When I look at all the work we’ve accomplished in the past two months at Insight, I’m amazed, and seeing the results, such as our special May issue focused on COVID-19, has been incredibly rewarding.

As we all move forward and adjust to whatever the new normal is, I’m hoping we can share some of your success stories and how your organizations have used innovation to make it through difficult times.