COVID-19: Real impact on business?
In times of uncertainty like we are currently living, we are all worried for one reason or another. And for good reasons. Pandemic situation is escalating and still nobody knows the peak of it and when things will start sliding back to normal. The question is: will normality be the same as before? Probably not, reason why we should all throw an eye on what is going on in the business sector. Whether we are employers or employees, the more we are aware of the possible impacts, the easier will be for us to adapt. Business leaders and managers are facing unprecedented situations in which decisions are not easy, especially when the continuity of certain activities is at risk and so the stability of certain jobs. Some sectors are clearly more affected than others, not only because of temporary closure of offices, but also due to the disruptive effect tele-working, where possible, might have on a long term.
Both the health sector and the business environment will, without a doubt, go through unprecedented situations. However, in order not to get to the point of implausible scenarios, we are suggesting to carefully look at figures and reflect upon opportunities of improvement.
- Business impact
Everyone is currently making all sort of scenarios in order to optimize their efforts into protecting or sustaining their business activities. Many companies with facilities in affected areas have closed them and are canceling or postponing participation at conferences, events and face-to-face meetings. Most of these activities are now moving to the online. In more fortunate cases, some companies have been able to move operations to unaffected locations and reorganize internally to the new reality we are all facing.
With little variation of the sectors, the main challenges that businesses face today are:
- Monitoring supply chains or providers for potential impacts
- Conducting ongoing supply chain risk assessment and operation impact assessment
- Considering alternative suppliers
- Preparing for shortages, transportation delays or communication delays
- Approving additional budget for supplies or additionally paid time off
- Reducing or suspending bonuses for top earners
- Analysing and forecasting potential market impacts
- Operational management teams
On the other hand, many companies have created dedicated teams or internal committees in order to mitigate the effects of the pandemic situation. Marketing and HR professionals together with management members meet regularly to develop policies and provide information to their staff members, leaders, managers and front-line employees regarding the COVID-19 awareness, prevention, management and hygiene practices. It is fundamental that in such disturbing and disruptive times we are currently passing through, we all feel secure and stay healthy, emotionally, physically and at a cognitive level.
Some of the activities on focus are:
- Conducting business using technology (virtual meetings, through video or audio calls)
- Restricting travel and parcel reception
- Reducing activity to business-critical operations only
- Coaching team members to perform critical functions in the event of an unexpected absence or quarantine of another team member
- Distributing call center scripts and agent communications
Besides these, new procedures and business strategies are being outlined to guide current activities and anticipate future customer needs.
- Travel requirements
Due to Government restrictions, most companies have already reduced to a minimum professional travel, and some have assured workers they could decline professional invitations without penalty. Yet, meetings are increasingly taking place in the online environment. Solidarity and empathy seem to be the two key values governing all actions, conversations and meetings.