Pandemics generally have two endings: a medical ending when the incidence and death rates subside, and the social, when the fear of the disease recedes, according to the New York Times.
Unfortunately for business leaders, neither is in sight yet.
The COVID-19 pandemic and the world-wide closures that followed have impacted business in many ways, both at a large scale and at an individual organization level.
Here, we examine some of the key areas the coronavirus pandemic has impacted.
Small businesses are among the hardest hit.
Most businesses don’t have the cash stockpiled to survived a month-long disruption to income, and forecasts suggest more than 2 million workers could lose their jobs in just a week, according to a Business Insider COVID report.
Problems for small businesses are problems for nearly everyone, as JPMorgan Chase & CO dubs them “an anchor of the U.S. economy” noting that most (99 percent) of the country’s 28.7 million firms are small businesses.
Small businesses face a conundrum: now is an important time to continue to move forward, but it’s also critical to cut costs. Forbes contributor Serenity Gibbons advises businesses to look at key areas primed for outsourced corporate development opportunities, like HR, customer service, media buying, or sales and lead generation.
And while small business doesn’t have the operating budget of Microsoft, they can emulate the company’s cost-cutting measures, which were introduced before we’d even heard the term COVID-19: Microsoft stored more data in the cloud, leaned on its Office 365 architecture, and cut travel by leaning on video conferencing – all to the tune of cut costs, by $120,000 per day, according to UC Today.
Global supply chains are disrupted
Most of the Fortune 1000 companies (90%) had already experienced supply chain disruption at the time of an April 21 KPMG report, and many are looking warily at China given some concerns about the possibility of a second string of infections.
Supply chains have suffered because of:
- Dramatic spikes and plummets in demand, as some companies have weakened demand while others have skyrocketed
- Uncertainty in raw materials
- Delayed shipping, due to shortages and logistics challenges
- Challenges obtaining significant workforce capacity
KPMG advises business leaders to work to assess multiple scenarios for financial and operational impact, hone in on the balance between supply and demand, and evaluate key suppliers to understand how they can influence the supply chain.
Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to power predictive analytics is the most effective way for businesses to effectively and efficiently model scenarios and assess outcomes, and implanting cutting-edge technology like blockchain or cloud-based operations can better equip businesses to get a handle on the now-volatile supply chain.
Travel has all but evaporated
The current average for a U.S. domestic flight is a minuscule 23 passengers, according to a May 10 New York Times report. With no vaccine in sight, it’s impossible to predict when, if ever, the airline industry will operate as many flights as they did prior to the pandemic. This evaporation of travel is devasting for the travel and hospitality industry, but also signals an unwillingness to travel that can impact businesses of all industries.
Businesses need to forge new ways of connecting to customers and dispersed employees without sitting side-by-side – and this means leveraging technology to close the gap.
Reopening is a new frontier
As we all well know, we’ve never shut down the modern economy in full, which means we’ve also never re-opened. Across the country, reopening looks vastly different, and businesses on the forefront will have to navigate how to ease customer concern and conduct business in the new state of the business environment.
A rise in absenteeism
Employee absences are on the rise, for personal illness, caring for ill family members, or navigating childcare after early childhood programs and K-12 school largely shut down. For businesses already running lean, this requires great agility at adapting business operations, improved cross-training, and careful prioritization – all steps that are challenging, if not impossible to make, if your enterprise applications, data, and custom software can’t cut it.
Most crises have an established end, whether that’s rebuilding infrastructure in the wake of a natural disaster or waiting for consumer confidence to increase after a recession. As a result, most risk management plans prior to now took a shorter term view.
Now, business leaders are faced with an ongoing disruption, with an end date that varies based on who you ask. Leaders need a solid infrastructure to support consistent communication, a mechanism to hear from employees, and a proven way to stay informed, and keep staff informed.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides resources for Business and Workplaces to support planning, preparation, and response.
Mitigating the Impact
As a business leader, you’re fighting new challenges regularly in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. What you don’t need to battle is your technology. TechGenies can help you identify, develop, and implement the outsourced software support or corporate development your business needs to maximize efficiency and remain competitive. Tell us how we can help you manage the impact of the pandemic at firstname.lastname@example.org.