Times are challenging, to say the least. The impact of the current pandemic on the home building and manufacturing industries is not yet completely known. In our industry, we are seeing shifts in homeowner priorities when it comes to expanding outdoor spaces, integrating automation and incorporating healthy-home elements into living spaces.

I’ve chosen a route of optimism and forward thinking in order to prepare myself and our businesses for what’s yet to come. I strongly believe that empowering my team members to approach the present environment innovatively is critical to surviving and even thriving in our new normal. Following are my top five guiding points that I’m happy to share when it comes to fostering optimism in yourself and your team during challenging times.

Balancing Act

With challenges surmounting, leaders are now juggling two businesses: the business of COVID-19 and their actual businesses. According to a survey conducted by CNBC and SurveyMonkey, 35% of businesses feel that they can survive for more than a year in the present environment. In order to do so, businesses need to work on ensuring safety protocols and review evolving statutes to continue to operate legally, deal with employee stress and ensure they are operating efficiently and, most importantly, safely.

COVID-19 is compelling us to review what is truly important, which is an opportunity. For example, finding a better balance between business and personal life has changed the ways in which my team works for the better.

C. Esther De Wolde is the CEO of Phantom Screens.

Finding Opportunity

I am certain that we are going to come out of this stronger, both as businesses and as people. With crisis comes an evaluation of operations, efficiency and opportunities. To safely manage our expenses, we’ve been driven to find operational inefficiencies, which have enabled us to cut back on non-essential business practices.

During challenging times, we begin to see people’s creativity come out and a more holistic view on operations.

The Next Normal

The next normal will be about integration with key partners and suppliers. This demands leaders to be open to new ideas and opportunities offered in today’s economy. Navigating plans to suit the current needs of the consumer and client is critical to remain relevant in the industry. The manufacturing industry is establishing a heightened awareness surrounding the supply chain and where materials come from. The next normal will promote non-competitive business collaboration to achieve an efficient, conscious and balanced use of resources to achieve success and stay afloat.

Power of Communication

Continued and proactive improvement in communications has become a dominant business practice and vital to team morale. Finding empathy in times of distress while welcoming open communication has never been more important for leaders and colleagues. Managing remote staff, as well as long distance stakeholder relationships, has been an adjustment. However, one lesson I’ve learned is that transparency should be made a priority. Tackle the awkward, the uncomfortable and share insights with the entire organization to show you care. It will go a long way.

Generosity and Empathy

It’s important to remember that we are all in the same storm, but we may not be in the same boat. It can be easy for us as business leaders to lose sight of the personal aspects. Right now, as individuals, leaders, employees and coworkers, we are going through something like never before that can and will greatly impact diverse personal, psychological and emotional needs. Recognizing that these are challenging times for everyone will help bring a human touch to business and bring a sense of community to any organization.

In challenging times comes opportunity and room for innovation and creativity. While many of us have been tested over the past several months, building into a reliable team and maintaining an optimistic outlook is the way forward.

Esther De Wolde is the CEO of Phantom Screens.

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