Positive HR blog

Five productive things to do during downtime

For many customer-facing roles in industries such as hospitality and retail, it’s almost impossible to work from home. The opportunities in COVID is that it’s brought a little extra time on our hands. If your business is still trading, but things are still quieter than usual, there are still plenty of things you can do. In this blog, we share five tips to maximise this downtime.


Catch up on training and development

When it’s quiet, it’s a great time to upskill your staff. You may have discussed career and development plans with your people. If you haven’t had these conversations yet, it’s time to start. It’s as simple as asking them:

  • What do you want to achieve in your career (in the short term and long term)?
  • What support and resources do you need to get you there?
  • What skills would you like to develop?

Once you have an understanding, see how you can use the downtime as an opportunity for learning. Check with your suppliers on what they can also do to help. For example, at my cafe, I used the downtime to upskill my front of house staff on how to make coffee. A representative from our coffee supplier Industry Beans came around at no cost to help train the staff.


Give your surroundings a little facelift

A shop facelift depends on whether budget permits. Sometimes even a fresh coat of paint or a new feature wall can do wonders. Perhaps a re-do of the outdoor seating area if you have one. Install some new props such as cushions — or better, a refurb of the whole place. These projects are up to you and how much you want to spend.


Update your menu

If you are running a cafe or restaurant, it could be time for a menu refresh. A new menu, especially at the start of a season is always exciting. Get your employees involved in the design. They will have plenty of ideas about what customers want.

Otherwise, if you are in the services industry, it’s a good idea to review and refresh your services. COVID has increased digital adoption, so are there any services you can create online?


Get organised and go paperless

Remember the times when it got so busy; it was hard to find anything?

Well, now you can take advantage of the downtime by doing a little spring cleaning. If anything, the pandemic has also put a huge spotlight on health and safety, so there’s even more reason to clean up.

Declutter, dust and clean out old cupboards, storage areas and food racks. Throw away old boxes or things that are no longer in use. Not only will you create more space, but it will also help minimise any injuries and trip hazards.

Do you have a desk where you keep piles of paper? Take photos or scan important documents and go paperless. This is especially important with receipts because they do fade after time — and you need to keep a record of them for seven years.

Do you keep a filing cabinet full of employee documents? Traditional filing systems take up a lot of space, and in this digital age, it’s inexpensive to store data securely. You should store things like signed employment contracts and employee records online. If you’re still writing manual payslips, it’s time to switch to an online accounting and payroll system such as Xero where payslips can be emailed.


Review your business energy bills

Energy bills are one of the biggest business expenses. While it’s sometimes easy to stick with the same provider for years, new energy deals pop up all the time, so it’s a good idea to compare your options. The Australian Government is offering free business energy advice and assessment, which is a great way to see where in your business can create more energy efficiencies.

We wish you all the best during this downtime. If you need any people advice, whether it’s about JobKeeper or streamlining your HR operations, please reach out to us to see how we can help.