September 11, 2020

How a ‘business rest’ can drive you forward

Troubled times offer an opportunity for reassessment to set the stage for recovery


The headline might alarm you. This is because no business leader that I know of wants to see their business take a rest. Not especially during the troubled times we’re facing today. Taking a step back isn’t an option if we want to survive — right? But ask yourself this. Do you simply want to survive, or do you want to drive the business forward?


First, let’s clarify what “rest” means in this context. We often think of rest as stopping work, reducing stress, and taking a step back. But instead of completely stopping operations, consider taking a step back from the usual ways of working.


Businesses around the world today are feeling a desperate sense of urgency to move forward. Because of the economic downturn, uncertainty and lack of movement are killing businesses everywhere. Many organizations are burning through resources and seeing no results, which just isn’t sustainable.


The benefit of a “rest” is that it gives top management and their people the opportunity to step back. When stepping back, we can view the business and work in terms of the bigger picture. When you step back, you can see things you might otherwise overlook. It could be a weak point in the business model or a new opportunity.


Considering all that’s happening — and not happening — in our nation today, what can businesses do to assess their operations. This is to ensure they can move forward stronger today and in the future.


Refocus the strategy of the business


The strategy you set early this year may well have been disrupted when the pandemic hit. If it can no longer sustain your business, it’s time to take a step back and adjust the strategy.


Test out new business models


With different conditions in mind, we need to design our business model to match those changing needs. Given changing consumer behavior and the decline of the economy, we might have to revisit the model. Afterward, we may test out different ways to reach and serve our customers.


Shuffle resources for optimal productivity


Effectively using limited resources is already a top priority for businesses. However, during a crisis, the strain can put a lot more pressure on the resources.


During this time of unease, businesses can take a step back and reorganize their resources to manage productivity. The only way this can happen is when the organization can step back and look at the bigger picture.


Assess the organizational structure


While reshuffling resources for optimal productivity is one part of the reorganization, another involves assessing how the structure. It needs to be modified to work more effectively during this time of change.


Update your crisis management plan


A great way to make use of all this uncertainty is to prepare for another crisis. Depending on the volatility of the industry and business, organizations can decide how detailed they want the plan to be. It could be based on what they’ve learned from the current crisis.


The critical element of “business rest” is to create room for controlled failure. Failure is a reality of business and mistakes can happen. This is a sign that the business is moving toward better things — if we learn from those mistakes.


While business as usual is the aim, the truth is, we know we will never go back. Instead of waiting it out, the best thing we can do for our business is to shift the focus.


Whether it is optimizing resources or revisiting strategy, each business has the potential to move forward, even at the worst of times.


Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC – Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Explore and experience our lifelong learning ecosystem today at