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The COVID-19 lessons businesses must learn

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The spread of COVID-19 has significantly changed how we do business — and “we” does not exclude any single industry. France’s national holiday, Bastille Day, was celebrated this July 14 not with the usual parade, but with an 8 billion euro raise for health care workers. Delta airlines, on their part, just reported a staggering 88% loss in sales compared to the previous year for the second quarter of 2020.

Regardless of their preparedness to deal with crises, this pandemic has taught businesses (and nations) some lessons that they should consider before another similar wave kicks in. Namely, to adjust or develop a crisis management plan that should highlight risks, be they financial, human or environmental, and outline a plan for managing and controlling them.

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We have witnessed that businesses that were able to switch their operations to remote work did manage to continue their operations successfully. So review your supply chain. Businesses must create alternative plans for their supply chains. As we have seen, most businesses lost their supply of products due to restrictions of flights and closure of borders.
Digitalization is a must. In lockdown, the only way to communicate and continue our everyday work was through digital tools that allowed smooth communication between teams. Apart from that, many activities were able to be conducted by the simple use of digital tools that connected us even though quarantine.

In a matter of weeks, the COVID-19 pandemic forever changed how we do business, and not a single industry has been spared. Businesses are left with no other option but to respond with the same rapid speed to accommodate these unplanned transformations. Even now, in most places around the world, there is a need to practice social distancing yet stay connected with stakeholders. Amidst all these changes, however, there are always lessons that businesses can learn from this pandemic. Here are a few of them.

The need to have a flexible crisis management plan

If there is one thing that businesses must learn from the COVID-19 crisis, it is the need to have crisis and business continuity plans in place at all times. Another thing to note is that this plan should not just include expected risks such as financial or environmental, it should go deeper and include the unexpected. The plan should be flexible enough to accommodate the changes forced down on businesses by any crisis. The rapidity at which the pandemic hit the world proved a resilience test to organizations, and only the ones who had an elaborate and flexible crisis management plan will ultimately survive.

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Businesses should be proactive in responding to the crisis

Though the pandemic has affected the whole world, there are areas that are less impacted than others. In terms of large geographic areas, the difference between the worst hit and the mildly hit is that the latter were proactive and responded faster. They foresaw the extent of the damage the crisis would cause and put in place measures to avert the situation. For instance, areas that implemented lockdowns, started wearing masks and prepared their healthcare systems early enough (by contact tracing and data sharing, for example) are doing well in this crisis. In addition to having a crisis management plan in place, there is need for businesses to have an improved sensory perception system. It is important to be positioned well to sense danger, think and respond rapidly in order to survive a crisis.

Remote working can be a blessing to businesses

As the COVID-19 crisis slowly found its way around the world, so did the reality of the need to work from home. Social distancing meant sending a big chunk of the workforce home, highlighting the need to support them effectively. The good thing is that businesses now know that remote working can be an efficient mode of working, especially because it can drastically reduce office operating expenses. Businesses must now acknowledge that this is a good system and work towards leveraging all benefits that come with it. One, for example, is the ability to have a wider pool to fish the best talents to include in their workforce.

Businesses must carefully review the supply chain

As governments tried to alleviate the spread of the virus, locking down some regions became inevitable. Travel restrictions to and from the worst-hit areas had to be implemented rapidly. That meant that businesses whose main suppliers were from those regions could not get the supplies they needed. Most had to deal with declining inventory levels and reduced manufacturing capabilities. They had to think of alternative supply sources, which is a slow and expensive process. Businesses must learn the need to employ agility in improving supply chain management in order to prevent disruption in production during a crisis.

The importance of digitalization

With governments requiring businesses to operate with fewer people as possible on-site, businesses were forced to transfer most operations to remote locations — people’s homes. This had to be done with minimum disruption to operations as possible. What it meant to businesses is that any operation that was manual or entirely on-premise was now inaccessible and could not continue. Businesses can now not deny the need to have every operation digitized. The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for businesses to create a secure an agile digital system.

 

 

 

 

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Christian A. Kruse is a marketing and business expansion expert for Asian markets. Based in China, he has helped many companies expand in China, Singapore, Japan, the Philippines, and elsewhere. He has experience working in a range of industries and providing technical support in topics such as business growth, market expansion, and product development. Currently, he is also serving as an expert at GlobalizationPedia and provides technical advice for its China EOR solutions targeting US-based international businesses.

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