One of the hardest things to do is to do nothing.  Or at least, when told that you must do nothing, it is surprisingly hard to do that.  When advised to avoid touching your face, your nose all of a sudden develops an itch.  When told to exercise social distancing it takes a conscious effort to avoid automatically shaking someone’s hand. When told to stay at home, the shopping mall suddenly becomes the most exciting place to want to visit.

Much of the world’s workforce is facing the prospect of enforced self-isolation.  Most of us are avidly glued to articles about the spread of coronavirus, the latest impact on people, healthcare systems, governments and companies.  Once we’ve finished reading those articles, we then turn to the articles telling us that this behaviour is bad for our mental health.  So what can we do instead?  Here are a few suggestions, each of which could be applied to your personal situation, or your business situation.

1 – Take self-isolation as an opportunity to reassess your situation

Life can be so busy, one just feels like a hamster on a treadmill.  Embrace the enforced slowdown in the pace of life. Use the time spent not commuting to get some sleep, then think about your situation.

2 – Start by looking at your cost base

Decisions you took a while ago should likely be reassessed given new information, and more importantly given the news that everything just got a lot less certain.  Do you want to be making big commitments now, or is it worth paying for a bit of flexibility?  Perhaps you do want to commit, so that you can get some price certainty in return?  On a personal level you could apply this thinking to your train season ticket or your mortgage.  In a business context, perhaps it is thinking about whether you finally make that move to the cloud, paying for the additional business agility, or perhaps if you are in the cloud, you’re trying to work out how to minimize the cost of it, but in a way you won’t regret later through overcommitment.

3 – Next, take a look at your revenue streams

If you look at your income, is it reliable?  You may have income from multiple sources, but is your presumption that they are diversified still defensible, in the current climate of airlines and train companies (and other industries to follow) asking for government bailouts?  If not, maybe have another think about your discretionary spending, i.e. look at your cost base again.

4 – Now, look at your options.

Most people have more options than they realise. Firstly, look at your balance sheet, i.e. your assets and liabilities.  Perhaps you have two cars – you probably think of those as an asset, as you should be able to sell them to bring in some cash.  However, they also have liabilities in terms of their operational costs to insure and maintain them, even if you aren’t driving them.  It may make sense to sell one of the cars.  Or to part-exchange a car for a less expensive one.  Whilst there may be some significant transaction costs, depending upon your wider situation, you may still wish to exercise that option to trade in your assets.  In a business world, there are analogous decisions around commitments to lease office space, which normally have break clauses, and commitments to keep using certain cloud computing resources.

5 – Now Take Action.

Make a conscious decision to either take no action, or to take a specific action.  If you are struggling to decide, talk it through the decision with someone – simply justifying out loud each possible course of action often makes it clear what you should do.  

If cloud is an area where you feel you can address your cost base to provide greater resilience and control in these uncertain times my colleagues at Strategic Blue do this with customers of our “People-Powered FinOps” service all the time.  We lead them through this thought process to get to a set of choices about the way they buy cloud.  We then help them actually reach a decision to either make a change to save money, or to consciously not make a change, and commit to the usage to save money.