Besides the immense loss of human lives, the COVID 19 has severely impacted the Economy – businesses, industry and trade. The world was functioning smoothly in its own orbit before COVID struck. Things were moving to a precise schedule – the sun rose and set – within this cycle, Mortals went around doing their mundane tasks. People went about their routines with dedication, precision and dedication – in differing degrees. Life was running smoothly – on all 4 cylinders and purring along. Particularly so for the world-within-a-world: The world of commerce, business, entrepreneurship and trade.
The essential words here being business, entrepreneurship and commerce. Intertwined with the world of commerce are several vital factors – manufacturing, distribution, monetary institutions, services, working professionals and of course, technology. The advent of technology has impacted business immensely and continues to. No single factor has been this instrumental in shaping the way business is done and services rendered. And it is the technology that is helping people to cope with working remotely. Meetings have become virtual and conferences take place on different platforms – virtually. EY’s Global Risk Survey 2020 found that the majority of businesses do not possess the capabilities to successfully operate & navigate crisis periods.
The immediate impact one can see is on Tottering economies, disrupted cycles of growth and market uncertainties – aided in turn by employees staying productive while working from home, restricted movements and imposed, enforced lockdowns. Entrepreneurs, Organizations, Firms, Trade-bodies and entire groups as a large are reduced to a common denominator – what matters is staying safe. All other considerations must come later. But as governments and organizations across the world come to grips with stark, blunt realities – they are compelled to relax lockdowns and gradually let businesses open to sustain economies. Here are some views and insights which may help:
The Economic Catch 22: The enormous challenge presented to the business, organizations and the world, actually -by the cruel COVID-19 pandemic and resulting lockdown orders is unprecedented: the economy has to be put back on its feet, livelihoods have to be restored – all this while managing a very real risk to human life. Going back to work is going to be very tough and fraught with uncertainty – it will involve countless unknowns, but leading companies will need to advance where they can, retreat as soon as they must, and adapt as needed. Flexibility in approach, coordination, and agility in responses will be the core keys to responding in an ongoing COVID 19 scenario that shows no signs of letting up.
As many lockdowns around the world begin to ease, Bain & Company’s new research, Back to Work: Advance, Retreat, Adapt, Recover, offers a guide for how to think through some of the most critical questions that businesses will face when operating in a radically different environment. “For most executives, the task at hand will be less like restarting a business and potentially more like starting a business from scratch,” said Hernan Saenz, head of Bain & Company’s global Performance Improvement practice. “Returning to work will be far more complex than turning the lights back on and restarting operations.”
Empower an Action team: Identify senior personnel who be part of a crisis team – they will help to kickstart routines, lay down processes and enable coordination out of chaos. Since senior members know the routines and business models of the organization, they can lay down roles for each team member and run them through imaginary scenarios where they can respond as per conditioning or training. These responses can be analyzed and debated at length by other team members and constructive feedback given. These discussions will also serve as a platform for judging how well the team functions as a single unit, and how they will cope when it comes to a crisis. It will be a good idea to present them with real-life issues of business continuity and longevity. Being in the system, they will possibly offer feedback that can help. Enshrine the HSE trio – Health, Safety, Environment.
Collaborative Approach: Though the leadership function usually and by its very nature does not involve participation, the current situation calls for a different approach by leaders. When the future of the business is in question, it is a good time for involving the team members in operations to sustain the business. This will begin by telling everyone that they have a stake in the longevity of the business and then inviting their participation in doing what they can to resolve matters. One of the benefits of participative management is that it will also serve as a team-building exercise for everyone involved and this will help the business itself in the long run. This form of decentralization can help in faster decision making, proper feedback and multiple views of issues at hand, and democratization of authority. Enshrine the HSE trio – Health, Safety, Environment.
Agile approach: With lockdowns being relaxed, remote working, virtual meetings and work from home become the new normal – for a while. Hence for business survival, companies will need to be increasingly resilient and agile, coming up with different ways to respond effectively to the crisis and business requirements. As team members collaborate more, but at a distance (within or outside office) designations can take a back seat, roles can expand as per ability and fill in gaps where required. When team members are made stakeholders in decision making, their responses will go beyond those of employees – they will step up to the plate and increasingly become more reliable and independent. Newer learnings and skills will be absorbed. As roles and responsibilities expand, newer ones will have to be developed or handed over – possibly shared. Team cohesiveness will be part of the business continuity plan. This, in turn, will benefit the organization in the long run. Enshrine the HSE trio – Health, Safety, Environment.
Enshrine the HSE trio – Health, Safety, Environment. While the business is very important and so is the economy, the health of the team-members is paramount. Ensure that all precautions like distancing, face-masks, sanitation, gloves, remote-working if possible, shifts…etc…are possible. Protective equipment, decontamination, quarantine all are measures that work – to an extent, as the situation has proved. Ensure the safety and sanitized environment will ensure the health of both the staff and the organization.