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Covid 19 – Time to change the mindset

Everyone has experienced the unprecedented disruption caused by Covid 19 in all spheres of life. The effects are dire and have distressed the poor and magnates alike. All forms of entities, ranging from small businesses to conglomerates, religious institutions etc. have been affected. Thousands of people have lost their lives, millions infected and the rest are engulfed in the unimaginable fear of the unknown. Nations, developing and superpowers, are yet to come to terms with the pandemic that has paralyzed the whole world. Each country is strategizing to safeguard her economy and lives of citizens.

What is at stake?

In addition to loss of lives and impoverishing humanity, Covid19 also known as Coronavirus has devastated world economies, constrained the health services, negatively impacted manufacturing and production, caused a slump in enterprise, supply chains and affected services like travel and insurance, livelihoods including agriculture, infrastructure, education etc.

When will the pandemic end?

The worst nightmare is that no one knows when the pandemic will end. There are fears of even another deadlier wave in the near future.

Sit and wait?

It is unwise to sit back and wait for respective governments to ‘defeat’ Covid19 because the time it will take medical experts to get a cure or develop a vaccine is not certain. The situation therefore calls for a change of mindset to cope. Change is inevitable. There is need to train the mind to handle change (force a mindset shift) and focus on the long-term goals. “A bend in the road is not the end of the road……. Unless you fail to make the turn.” Hellen Keller.

Aspect Rethink, adjust, adapt
Which direction? Be innovative ‘rethink new ways of delivery’

  1. There is need to explore new ways of doing things, ensuring businesses move on. It is time to get out of the traditional ways of doing things “I do it my way’.
  2. Revisit the Business Continuity Plan and update it to suit prevailing circumstances- business function and recovery priorities, alternate business site if need be, recovery plan and recovery phases, records backup, restoration plan, recovery teams and procedures.
  3. Review business plans to reflect the decline in demand (not applicable to entities dealing in Covid 19 essentials). Assess the risk management strategy. Is it still relevant given the Covid 19 disruption and aftermath?
  4. Remote work (alternate business site). This working style has allowed people, particularly professionals to work outside the traditional office environment. Most entities have embraced this style of work and has delivered in the recent months. This alternative should be embraced and methods of making it better adopted. Teams should be well facilitated. Flexible working arrangements should be embraced even after Covid 19 as new ways of delivering service that are less affected by emergencies.
  5. Align IT systems to support evolving work requirements.
  6. Continuous dialogue with clients – continuously seek seamless dialogue with clients. Discuss the best ways of delivering service, amidst difficulties. This could be costly but it is a useful way of retaining clients.
  7. Find alternate sources of supply of materials.
  8. Tax planning – this is a critical area, seek support from experts.
  9. For companies that produce, distribute, or source from suppliers, including import and export, it is evident that these are being tested as never before. Some will not survive but many are likely to experience a sustained slump in revenues and profits. Areas to rethink to ensure continuity:
      • Manage liquidity impact of disruption.
      • Control cash outflows – meticulously monitoring, planning and forecasting of cash inflows and outflows. Prioritize by differing payments of some expenses, e.g. utility and rent payments as supported by various governments.
      • Additional sources of capital.
      • It’s time to reduce spending- defer some activities like hiring new staff, review budget for areas with high spend e.g. marketing, substantially reduce perks for top executives.
      • Modeling – prepare enterprise models based on different macro scenarios to assess the entity’s level of exposure and develop contingency plans. Develop the best and worst-case scenarios as a result of the Covid 19 scourge and test these scenarios regularly.
      • Digital customer channels – ensure communication lines open with stakeholders.
      • Supply chain management of critical supplies – utilize emerging supply chain technologies that intensely improve visibility across the end-to-end supply chain, and support companies’ ability to resist shocks as those related to Covid 19. Traditional silos should be broken down so that organizations become connected to their complete supply network to enable end-to-end visibility, collaboration, agility, and optimization.
      • Explore insurance claims and financial recovery.
Human Resource, ‘the most important asset’ This is not the time to let go of the team that has built that empire – where the business is now. It is unfortunate millions are losing their jobs every day. Employers are not to blame because resources may not be available to pay staff. Laying off your staff during the period should be the last resort. Redundancies can be costly. As much as possible, employers should retain their staff because the long-term cost of losing this critical resource / talent where the entity has invested could outweigh the short-term savings on salaries. Employees could be encouraged to take leave or hold earnest negotiations, considering the legal implications.
Indebted? It’s not advisable to lament about indebtedness without thinking about ways to mitigate the consequences arising out of default. Individuals, entities and even governments have borrowed funds and currently not in position to pay the obligations.

Banks, world-over have come up to offer relief on a case by case basis.  This should be embraced through negotiating with the financial institutions to restructure facilities – extend the repayment period and reduce the regular obligations to manageable sums. A grace period can be negotiated to enable growth of cashflows.

Personal health – coping mechanism Medical personnel have advised on how to move on amidst the anxiety caused by Covid 19.

  1. Take care of the mental health (individual and family) and cope with stress if any (regular exercise, adequate sleep).
  2. Man is a social being but socializing is impossible amidst COVID-19 because social distancing means people can’t physically meet as they would love to. Researchers enlighten that technology can go a long way to help people stay connected with people they care about, though cautiously.

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