Innovation in the Face of Adversity: 4 Businesses That Overcame Challenges During COVID-19

It goes without saying that COVID-19 has changed life as we know it for all of us. As we struggle to define and exist within this new normal, time ref…

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It goes without saying that COVID-19 has changed life as we know it for all of us. As we struggle to define and exist within this new normal, time refuses to stand idly by. In the UK alone, nearly one quarter of all businesses were forced to suspend operations indefinitely. Rather than wait and hope for the best, the businesses that will survive and thrive during this time are those that are able to adapt. If you’re in search of inspiration for your own change, read on to learn about businesses that countered adversity with innovation.

Red Roof Inn

With mandatory stay at home orders in effect throughout many parts of the world, the tourism industry has been especially hard hit during the pandemic. With the majority of their rooms going unbooked, economy hotel chain, Red Roof Inn, pivoted to cater to a now thriving sector; remote workers. Rather than a typical overnight stay, they are offering discounted day rates for professionals seeking a designated work environment.

Following the popularity of coworking spaces such as WeWork, Red Roof Inn has converted many of its now vacant rooms into remote office spaces. For a steeply discounted rate, customers will have access to a private room between the hours of 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM with basic office amenities. It may lack the modern aesthetics that modern coworking spaces are known for, but for a quiet space with Wi-Fi, a desk, a dedicated phone line and more without a monthly commitment, it’s hard to beat. For those with noisy roommates or young children at home, it’s a particularly attractive option for the occasional important phone call.

Zaidi Recyclers

Pre-pandemic, Zaidi Recyclers in Tanzania’s port city of Dar es Salaam had a thriving business producing recycled paper. With the majority of their sales going to China and India, orders slowed to a trickle as widespread border closures came into effect. Experts in transforming old things into something new, Zaidi Recyclers took the opportunity to transform their business into one more in-step with the current situation.

Using their existing machinery, they transitioned from recycling paper products to plastic bottles. With the resulting materials, they created face shields for frontline healthcare workers in hospitals and clinics throughout the country. In doing so, Zaidi Recyclers was able to remain open and keep all 38 of their workers employed. Founder Allen Kimambo, in an interview with Reuters, summed up the experience as follows, “I think the key is to remain relevant … If you panic, you will get lost …”

Open Table

With social distancing guidelines preventing indoor gatherings, the restaurant industry has been among the most negatively impacted by COVID-19. During this time, many establishments shifted their business model to place more emphasis on delivery orders and meal kits that customers can prepare at home. However, businesses more involved in restaurant operation than daily service face a different series of challenges altogether.

Case in point, Open Table, one of the most widely-used restaurant reservation platforms in the world, suddenly found itself with no reservations to fill. Facing a temporary dead end, they made the decision to retool their product for a different market. With just a minor code rewrite, they created a new version of their software for use in grocery stores. By utilizing an online reservation system, participating stores were able to easily adhere to social distancing guidelines and better prepare for product shortages.

58 Gin

As bars and restaurants around the world were forced to close their doors, food and beverage suppliers in turn found themselves unable to move excess stock. While food products can typically be donated to charity organizations, the same cannot be said for alcohol. Rather than suspending operations and waiting for things to blow over, 58 Gin in East London decided to take a proactive approach to the situation.

Already in the business of distilling and bottling, they made the minor but impactful pivot from producing gin to alcohol-based sanitizer. Selling for a very reasonable £6, their juniper and citrus scented “gin-itizer” quickly became the official sanitizer of the Met Police and NHS trust hospitals. In addition to keeping their own staff employed, 58 Gin is also donating a portion of their proceeds to charities that support bar and restaurant employees affected by the pandemic.

Ingenuity Knows No Bounds

It would be an understatement to call the past year difficult, and we’re not out of the woods just yet. However, the businesses highlighted in this post are just a few examples of the many innovators keeping up with today’s evolving markets. Whether you’re looking for work or need to find employees for your own innovative business, we’re ready to help. Get in touch today to learn how the Cogs global network can put you on the path to a successful new year.

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