April 24, 2020 / by Harsimran Behl / In , /

Contending with the covid19 pandemic

The COVID-19 outbreak has been declared a public health emergency of international concern by the World Health Organization and has affected hundreds of thousands of people while having a growing impact on the global economy. It has gone global with cases in over 150 countries. As of April 14, 2020, almost 19,42,360 COVID-19 cases have been reported worldwide with a death toll of 1,21,726. As COVID-19 continues to spread rapidly around the world, almost every country has been reporting new cases though the burden is asymmetrically distributed. Many countries in Western Europe have seen the number of new cases begin to decline and are conferring about the right approach to reopen their economies. Some countries appear to be at the peak of infection and are urgently building surge capacity in their health systems. In other parts of the world, the number of cases is rising rapidly. Countries such as Russia and Turkey are seeing a recent acceleration.

India too has been experiencing a significant increase in the number of cases since the beginning of April and has evolved its response strategy, including extending the nationwide lockdown till May. Several measures such as physical distancing, travel restrictions, effective use of protective equipment such as masks and gloves, testing and tracing, and healthcare surge capacity are being taken by the government as an effort to help flatten the curve.

According to a recent UN report, the global economy could shrink by up to one percent in 2020 due to the pandemic. The analysis by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) said the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting global supply chains and international trade. Millions of workers in these countries are facing the bleak prospect of losing their jobs. Governments are considering and rolling out large stimulus packages to avert a sharp downturn of their economies which could potentially plunge the global economy into a deep recession. In the worst-case scenario, the world economy could contract by 0.9 percent in 2020, as said by the DESA.

As governments are making significant interventions in response to the Coronavirus, businesses are rapidly adjusting to the changing needs of their people, customers and suppliers, while steering financial and operational challenges. This challenge is pushing companies to operate in new ways, and manage a range of hurdles thus leaders must act quickly to address immediate systems resilience issues.

Helping employees understand that protecting their health is key to minimize fear and maintaining emotional equipoise is a crucial step that organizations must take. Apart from that, there is a need for forming a plan, taking steps to ensure continued operations and staying aware of how employees and customers respond to new workflows and provide continuity points for business.

Companies can opt for the following steps in order to avoid chaos and make real-time decisions:

  • Support and protect employees: Many organizations have put basic protections in place for their employees and customers. Companies have opted for work-from-home policies for some workers and physical-distancing-at-work measures for others. Employees worry that staying remote could make them less valuable, especially in a recessionary environment thus networking and creating routines can drive productivity.
  • Addressing challenges: The organization needs to address the immediate challenges related to COVID-19 which represents the institution’s workforce, customers, technology and business partners.
  • Create resilience: It is important for an organization to address near term cash management challenges and broader resiliency issues during virus-related shutdowns and economic knock-on effects.
  • Evolve a plan for the next phase: Decoding this new normal and ensuring that the company has a strategy to navigate it, is an important part of the work of a nerve center. Planning for decision making under uncertainty and creating a portfolio of initiatives can go a long way toward creating a compass for business leaders to follow.
  • Reform processes: The organization must have a detailed plan for business to scale as quickly as the COVID-19 situation evolves and the effects on the economy clear off.

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