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How a crisis changes the business landscape?

  • By Mr. Vikram Kumar, Co-Founder and Managing Director, SRV Media Pvt. Ltd.

What is a Crisis?

The world has gone through many crises, The Great Depression of 1929–39, The Asian Crisis of 1997 or be it the Great Recession of 2007-09. All of these wrecked havocs in the lives of people around the world. The most unprecedented and latest among them is the COVID-19 pandemic.

What a Crisis does to Business?

A crisis can result in stock markets crashing down globally, increased unemployment rate, economic slump and much more. All these result in disrupting economic revenues and profits generated which is directly related to shutting down of various businesses. About 94-95% of businesses globally are small scale companies and employ a majority of the global workforce. These are the ones who are deeply affected since they lack the cash reserve to survive months-long interruption in the normal business flow.

Even if the current COVID-19 pandemic is controlled in the coming few months, the short-term effects would end but the long-term economic impact will ripple through the coming years. The pandemic has forced people to live and work in radically changed ways with travel bans, skeletal crews as well as adjusting to the work from home culture. Social distancing has suddenly become the new norm. The employed sector faces concerns like layoffs, no or limited investment and significant reduction in pay-outs.

What could be done by businesses in a crisis?

Crisis management and response should be the first thing to strike the mind of any business owner in such a situation. Today, companies that have successfully come up with a management plan that allows smooth functioning during the pandemic are at ease and can focus on business as usual. For the rest of them, the focus should be on allowing employees to work from home smoothly, providing means to share data securely with ease, assessing the company’s responses and identifying any weak points that could hamper smooth functioning.

During a crisis, prioritising the workforce becomes of topmost importance for businesses. The focus shifts to prioritising their comfort, physical and mental health and adopting empathetic policies to help support employees in any way possible, so that they can keep supporting the clients and daily workings of the company. It takes time to adapt so suddenly to newer ways of working. Earlier where you could simply walk over to your colleague and work together, now you have to resort to lengthy explanations over call. This causes an inevitable delay in meeting deadlines. Maintaining a work-life balance becomes difficult as the clear black and white distinction turns into a giant grey blur. With the workforce struggling to function normally, businesses are bound to suffer.

Businesses now need to focus on aligning the whole workforce to come up with new strategies to stabilise the situation as much as possible. They need to shed off their orthodox business practices and evolve quickly so as to maintain smooth functioning. They need to identify new resources while prioritizing the existing ones and be open to exploring new opportunities during these uncertain times.

What is helping in the current crisis?

Apart from supporting the employees in all possible ways, businesses need to embrace the digital transformation if they wish to keep making progress, no matter how slow. Although an advantage to this is that employees now have the opportunity to upskill through digital platforms, allowing them to learn and contribute more than they could during normal operations. There are many big brands who are looking past the sudden shift in the work culture and seeing the advantages that working from the comfort of our homes has to offer. A lot of big companies have thus planned on continuing work from home for all employees even after the situation starts to normalise.

The world is going through uncertain times and a crisis like this affects human lives and their livelihoods drastically. Undergoing a digital transformation, prioritising the workforce and finding new resources to ensure smooth functioning are just some of the things that are helping businesses survive during these times. However these changes are here to stay as more and more businesses can see the advantages in adopting these changes permanently. COVID-19 has forever changed the way the world does business.

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