A man goes into a coma in January and miraculously recovers in April. Upon waking up, he asks his friend, “What did I miss?”
To which his friend responds: “We lost one of the greatest basketball players of all time and the world was devastated. And then it was a raw bat that sent the world into a global pandemic. And while 40 per cent of the world is scared, another 40 per cent calls it a fake and 20 per cent blame one another (depending on where they are from) for creating it in a lab to increase their exports...”
This and many more such scripts and memes are making the rounds of social media. It cannot be denied that for most of us oblivious to the effects of COVID-19 would have on us personally up to a few weeks back are now rethinking strategy by the hour, if not the minute.
Upon recovery from the initial shock, we began to think what a business needs to do to emerge afloat on the other side of this crisis. It was hard to ignore the call from Netflix and Chill, but I still managed to jot down some indicators to aid with the forward strategy.
Are you agile?
Do you have the ability mobilize, design, and respond to change in real-time? Easier said than done. And while gyms were quick with the switch to virtual workouts and retailers went heavy with their online presence, what did businesses that fall within discretionary expenditure do?
Now is the right time to prime your processes, become more customer-centric (if you are not already), restructure your offering, and redefine the focus. For example, in a business like ours, immigration consultancy, we realize that with this air of uncertainty in the job market across all industries and the dire need of some professions across the world, our most effective offerings would be those targeted towards employed professionals more than investors and business owners.
I certainly hope that this point was a part of everyone’s initial strategy when setting up shop, but it always helps to revisit the question. Are we making a difference to the way things are done? Are we addressing a problem statement?
While for Louis Vuitton hand sanitizers were a CSR initiative, the Tunisian Ttxi startup IntiGo temporarily repositioned itself as a delivery service and for $4 an hour deliver groceries and other products to the doorstep.
While there are spurts of positive news and every now and then there are a few laughs being shared on social media, rest of the time it is doing a fairly good job at maintaining the air of doom and gloom. In all fairness, the air of uncertainty is the real cause of depression many are feeling at the moment.
As an organization, it is one’s responsibility to communicate responsibly and with clarity. I once read somewhere, that employees prioritize being treated fairly and with regard far above finances. Clear and consistent communication becomes even more paramount during times like these for the sake of team morale, as all your strategies will rest on the confidence they have in the organization.
No matter what business you are in, your team are your most prized asset - treat them accordingly.
The air of uncertainty is the real cause of depression many are feeling at the moment
Be very visible
By no means am I suggesting you get the largest billboard on Sheikh Zayed Road, but it is often that in times of trouble, companies stop being seen, stop communicating and stop reaching out because they are focusing on sales. Now the previous line may sound oxymoronic - because it is meant to.
If there is anything that we learned from the 2008 Global Economic Crisis is that companies that were most visible recovered the fastest.
- Vrinda Gupta is Managing Partner at Vazir Group.