In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic brought on a slew of unique challenges for businesses across the globe. And two years later? Well, we’re still sailing rough seas and still building business resilience.

Today’s businesses continue to face the ripple effects of the pandemic: the supply chain crisis, inflation, and volatile consumer behavior. Add higher interest rates, a talent shortage, and geopolitical tensions to create a perfect storm.

One CNN reporter described the current landscape as “a calamitous confluence of events that is really stressing the economy.” And though President Biden said a recession isn’t necessarily inevitable, he acknowledged there’s plenty of cause for concern. “This is going to be a haul,” he said in a recent news conference. “This is going to take some time.”

Embracing Automation in Lean Times

Companies like Facebook and Salesforce are hunkering down by reducing hiring, in an effort to show greater margins for their shareholders. But in comparison to small and midsize businesses, larger corporations often have a greater resiliency to weather financial downturns.

So what about the little guys? In short, lean times often call for lean teams. And smaller companies might possess a significant advantage over their more massive peers, in that they can respond to economic uncertainty with more speed and agility. Automation creates more flexibility, without impacting headcount.

Doing More with Less: Lessons from the Manufacturing Industry

Understandably, many businesses can be wary of such changes. But fortunately, it’s not the first time companies have relied on automation to save time and money in the midst of economic uncertainty.

The manufacturing industry lost 2.9 million workers during the Great Recession in 2008. And while 900,000 of those workers eventually returned to the industry, the rest either retired or found jobs elsewhere. After decades of resistance, manufacturers were left with no choice but to rapidly digitize. And the result?

Mobile technology, cloud computing, and automation, all helped the manufacturing industry to become more productive than ever before — even when operating with leaner teams. Manufacturing jobs continue to decline today, yet the value of goods and products manufactured in the U.S. has grown.

The tumult of the Great Recession had another upside for the manufacturing industry: it put businesses in a better position to weather the storms of the pandemic. While manufacturers certainly had their share of challenges in the early days of the pandemic, they managed to stay afloat.

In another era, a global disruption of this scale could have decimated the industry. Instead — as a McKinsey study noted — the manufacturing industry was able to move faster and further, thanks to advanced analytics, connectivity, and automation.

HR and Legal Industries, Take Note

HR and legal industries, take note: the benefits of automation aren’t limited to the world of manufacturing. Any industry can similarly increase efficiency and effectiveness by adopting automation and technology tools that help them do more with less.

Take Hatch. Over the past few years, the all-in-one sleep solution company has completely streamlined HR by automating contracts, onboarding, and employee handbooks for their ever-growing remote workforce. Modern legal tools help them stay compliant and up-to-date, all while hiring five to ten remote employees every month.

As HR services company Reverb suggests, small and midsize businesses can promote equity in a remote workplace by providing all employees with new processes, communication tools, and remote work resources. Automation tools can help companies achieve these goals by helping them save money and be more resilient.

Seizing the Opportunity of Automation

Ultimately, industries that embrace automation are better positioned to survive even the most severe business disruptions, from an economic downturn to a global pandemic. These companies are able to do more with less, increasing efficiency and effectiveness across the board.

Small and midsize businesses can learn from the past: start building business resilience by adding automation to your daily business strategy, so you too can build resilience and strength for an uncertain future. Book a demo with SixFifty today!