How to stay afloat in times of transition and economic downturn

We explore 5 things you can do now.

Image of storm

The world has changed dramatically since pre-pandemic times. As we face rising living costs, recession fears, stagflation, and the threat of war in Europe, running a business can feel like bailing water out of a sinking ship. 

While the coronavirus outbreak initially fueled a tech boom, the Washington Post recently reported that big tech is now bracing for a recession as growth slows and giants like Google and Meta announce staff layoffs. Where big tech goes, the rest follow, and markets, investors, and startups are feeling jittery.

Interested in Oyster but want more information about how the platform works? This product overview should help.

All this uncertainty has left leaders, entrepreneurs, and small business owners wondering how they can support their employees. This article will cover five ways you can reassure your team members and keep your business afloat, especially in a remote work environment.

1. Be transparent

When things are up in the air, it’s essential to be upfront and realistic with your team about the situation without resorting to scaremongering. Avoid making long-term projections about the future and instead focus on actions you can take in the short-term.

Keeping the entire team informed about what’s happening in the broader context and what the company is doing in response will reassure them they’re in good hands. Being transparent and honest about what’s happening and what they can expect moving forward will help them to prepare and benefit their mental health and well-being. 

2. Communicate clearly and frequently

As your team goes through a period of uncertainty, they will likely be facing distractions and lower productivity. Some may be dealing with personal issues—for example, a working parent’s partner may lose their job, leaving them as the sole breadwinner, or they may be dealing with bereavement in the family. 

In difficult times, it’s natural to worry about the future and mentally “time travel.” Even the most reliable professionals may succumb to their fears of vulnerability, making assumptions and running scenarios in their heads. This is why clear and regular communication with each team member is essential to help them stay calm.

Clear and regular communication will help the team focus on what’s most important. During times of transition, it’s critical to channel resources toward the most important activities. This will also speed up the decision-making process, which is vital during an economic downturn. Challenges and opportunities arise as the landscape changes, requiring quick decision-making. This is only possible with a robust communication system in place.

To ensure smooth communication, schedule regular meetings and check-ins with your team members and leaders to check how everyone is doing. Use instant messaging tools such as Slack to keep communication flowing, and make sure your team knows they can reach out to you for support whenever they need it.

Tip graphic

3. Work on maximizing productivity and efficiency

In a time of budget cuts and hiring caps, your focus should be on maximizing employee productivity and efficiency. Here are a few ways you can do that.

Support their mental well-being

It’s essential to recognize the broader global context and the subsequent impact on your employees can affect their mental health and, in turn, their productivity. Consider offering additional support in the form of coaching or counseling.

Provide as much clarity as possible

Even when you can’t see the future, stay positive and focus on what you can do to stay afloat. This will give your team members a sense of clarity and purpose that will help them carry on with their work. 


Automating repetitive processes gives your team more time to focus on their core work and even come up with creative solutions to current challenges. Automation has also been linked to greater job satisfaction—a recent Salesforce survey found that 89% of workers report greater job satisfaction thanks to automation, and 91% said it helped them achieve a better work-life balance.

Stat graphic

Offer flexibility and empowerment

Offering flexible hours and work-from-home options gives employees greater autonomy over how and when they get their work done. Contrary to expectations, the sharp increase in working from home during and after the pandemic didn’t negatively impact productivity. When employees feel empowered and trusted to do their work, they perform better than when they’re being micromanaged. 

To the extent possible, give employees the autonomy to make decisions about their work and encourage them to share their knowledge and skills. Ask team members for ideas for tackling projects and challenges and give them the tools and resources they need to do their jobs effectively. In addition, make sure you avoid these four common mistakes that affect distributed team efficiency.

Additionally, ask employees for their ideas and input for handling projects and challenges. This will give them a sense of ownership and increase their motivation and productivity. 

4. Prioritize career growth opportunities

During uncertain times, your focus as a leader should be on helping your team thrive and grow despite the challenges and broader economic climate. Professionals of all levels require individual attention and professional development, and if you want to hang on to your best people, you’ll need to show them they still have a future within your organization. Challenges also bring opportunities, so make sure you continue to prioritize professional coaching and career development opportunities for your team members.

Companies with global workforces may be at an advantage here, as a remote team can help stabilize and even improve a company’s situation while navigating an economic downturn. That said, a distributed team requires even more effective communication and leadership to keep everyone on the same page and help the company navigate stormy waters.

Tip graphic

5. Work with your team to forge a way forward

The future may be impossible to predict, but mapping out various ways to achieve your company’s overarching vision is still possible. Rallying your employees behind a shared sense of purpose will help boost morale. 

Work with your team to identify the strategic areas the company should focus on to stay afloat while still working toward its vision. Ask your team members to help you pinpoint:

  • Areas for improvement—look for ways to do business better and build more agile systems
  • Tasks that are no longer a priority
  • Industry segments and customers that are thriving that you can focus on
  • Growth opportunities that will improve your market share when the economy improves
  • Where to cut back—it’s particularly crucial to involve employees here, as they can often get spooked by the prospect of cuts

Efficient and effective team collaboration will be essential for helping your business survive whatever comes next, as it creates a productive ecosystem that encourages ideas, sharing, and initiative.

Weather the storm with Oyster

Implementing the strategies outlined above will give you and your employees the buoyancy to get you through these turbulent times. Maintaining a positive attitude and open communication with your team will be vital for surviving the coming years, especially when your company is partially or fully distributed. 

Oyster is a powerful digital platform that companies can use to care for global employees during times of transition. For example, Oyster provides global employment tools that can contribute to positive employee experiences, even during uncertain times. Sign up for a free account to discover how we can help you care for your global team members.

About Oyster

Oyster is a global employment platform designed to enable visionary HR leaders to find, engage, pay, manage, develop, and take care of a thriving distributed workforce. Oyster lets growing companies give valued international team members the experience they deserve, without the usual headaches and expense.

Oyster enables hiring anywhere in the world—with reliable, compliant payroll, and great local benefits and perks.

Table of Contents

Additional Resources

Discover more
No items found.
Text Link