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Coronavirus: Business Development and Profitability Strategy During Pandemic

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    March 18, 2020

    Publication date

    Coronavirus outbreak on the planet has reached pandemic levels, the World Health Organization announced on March 11. The term pandemic classifies viral diseases that are rapidly spreading across a wide geographical area. This is a new type of virus that was first detected in humans in China in Wuhan in late 2019. Unfortunately, today, it became the cause of a large-scale spread of respiratory disease with severe complications and high mortality. The virus belongs to the coronavirus family and has not yet been sufficiently studied. 

    Coronavirus has already spread to 116 countries and territories. According to forecasts, it will bring unbelievable losses to global economics. But we must accumulate all efforts to withstand it.

    The Coronavirus has transformed the world into a large quarantine zone. Such world giants like Amazon and Google have already offered their employees to work remotely. Hundreds of companies will follow this example. We are on the verge of a large-scale experiment and most of those who test the new model of work will decide not to return to the office version.

    What Is the Coronavirus?

    Coronavirus is a family of viruses that consists of 39 strains. The coronavirus contains positive single-stranded RNA, and the virus shell under the microscope looks like a crown. That explains the name of the virus family.

    important information about coronavirus covid-19
    This information help us understand the Coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic situation

    Coronavirus infections are manifested as a severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), as well as diarrhea and shortness of breath (respiratory failure), which are characteristic of the so-called “Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)” and can be a cause of heavy pneumonia. 

    According to the Center for System Research and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University, today more than 202 thousand people have become ill with the coronavirus in the world. Almost 8.5 thousand people died. And over 80 thousand people fully recovered.

    How Is COVID-19 Transmitted?

    When a sick person or carrier of COVID-19 disease coughs or exhales, drops of contaminated fluid are released. People may catch COVID-19 in the following ways:

    • through contaminated surfaces or things, and then touching mucous membranes;
    • through an airborne droplet from the patient infected with COVID-19, standing at a distance of one meter from the infected person (that is, COVID-19 spreads similarly to flu).

    Most individuals infected with COVID-19 have light symptoms and recover very soon. However, the course of the disease may be more complex and accompanied by complications such as pneumonia. Such patients need urgent hospitalization.

    The risk of complications of the disease increases with age, namely:

    • people over 40 are more vulnerable than people under 40;
    • people with a weakened immune system and chronic diseases;

    A new coronavirus strain is very dangerous but cannot be called lethal, as the mortality rate from all recorded cases is 3.3%. 

    Difference between Coronavirus symptoms, cold, and flue

    Symptoms Coronavirus Cold Flue
    Feveroftenrarelyoften
    Tirednesssometimessometimesoften
    Coughoften (dry)rarelyoften (dry)
    Sneezingnooftenno
    Joint painsometimesoftenoften
    Running noserarelyoftensometimes
    Sore throatsometimesoftensometimes
    Diarrheararelynosometimes
    Headachesometimesrarelyoften
    Shortness of breathsometimesnono

    Ways to Prevent COVID-19 from Spreading in the Workplace

    How to protect your people? Employers should introduce preventive measures even if COVID-19 cases are not registered in the location where they carry out their business activities. But we can minimize the spread of infections in the working environment by simple steps:

    • Make sure the working places are clean and hygienic. Surfaces (e.g. tables and all work surfaces, telephones, keyboards, etc.) should be regularly cleaned with a disinfectant;
    • It is necessary to encourage regular and thorough handwashing by employees and customers; Place dispensers with disinfectants in all visible places (at workplaces);
    • Provide clean air in the workplace;
    • Provide face masks and other fabric personal protective equipment at workplaces where there is an accumulation of people. 
    • Consider the possibility of remote work for the employees whose physical presence is not necessary for the task performance.

    Thinking about remote (virtual) workspaces? Here is how to create your own physical call center quickly.

    Doing Business During Pandemic

    Not so long ago, in October 2019, the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, the World Economic Forum, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation simulated a similar scenario. Despite a number of similar factors, the exercise was not an ominous prediction of the coronavirus from Wuhan. Its aim was to check if the world is ready for a serious pandemic. And the data for modeling a potential virus was completely different from nCoV-2019.

    “To clarify the situation, the Center for Health Security and partners were not going to give any forecast during our experiment. For the scenario, we created an imaginary pandemic, but we have clearly informed that it has nothing to do with a prediction. Instead, this was an initiative aimed at highlighting readiness and response challenges that would likely arise in similar circumstances. We are not now stating that the COVID-2019 outbreak will take lives of 65 million people.” the statement says. 

    But the experiment showed the need for joint action by international organizations, national governments, and enterprises in the event of a large-scale pandemic. 

    The biggest impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on business could be a reduction in sales and cash flow, as well as an inability to serve consumers.

    The US president said that citizens, small and medium-sized businesses will be given a three-month tax break. This decision is due to the need to mitigate the economic consequences of the spread of coronavirus.

    The relevant request was sent to the Small Business Administration (SBA). The agency will use its powers and tools to provide capital and liquidity to companies affected by the coronavirus, as well as provide cheap loans.

    Trump is also going to ask Congress to increase funding for the SBA lending program by an additional $ 50 billion.

    The Ministry of Finance will be instructed to suspend the collection of taxes from some individuals and legal entities affected by the coronavirus, without removing the forfeits.

    The most necessary measures to support workers at the moment are identified as follows: restrictions on business travel 

    • remote work; 
    • office security, in particular, antibacterial agents, disposable tableware and thermometers;
    • providing employees of relevant information and advice;

    Business and Innovative Technologies in a Pandemic

    According to analysts at Oxford Economics, in 2020 the global economy faces over $ 1 trillion losses due to reduced tourism and business travel, disrupted supply chains and reduced trade and investment, reduced labor productivity, and employee absenteeism due to illness or home quarantine.

    Thus, many companies have reconsidered their policies in favor of remote work recently.

    Twitter announced in its official blog: “Beginning today, we are strongly encouraging all employees globally to work from home if they’re able. Our goal is to lower the probability of the spread of the COVID-19 for us – and the world around us”.

    IT giants have already responded that most companies are switching to a remote mode of operation, and are ready to provide access to their services for video conferencing for free. So, from March 10, Microsoft will add video calling to the free version of Teams for six months, an application that allows employees to communicate with each other. Previously, free access to Teams was available only to residents of China. Google will provide free access until July 1 to advanced features for meetings with friends and acquaintances (Hangouts Meet) to all G Suite and G Suite for Education customers around the world. We also implement such tools and technologies in our remote employees’ workflow and here is how we do this.

    What are the main innovative approaches to remote work organization?

    Building processes online requires implementing tools and flexible management. There is a list of main organizational questions:

    Collaboration

    Remote work may bring a lot of complications if it is poorly organized. Lack of communication is the most important problem that appears during a remote business organization. Luckily, there are plenty of free and paid online tools aimed to group your team. Numerous applications can be used for video conferences, messenger services for corporate clients, data storage, systems for corporate project management.

    Digital Transformation

    Every day we are faced with a business that has undergone a digital transformation. When we order Uber or pay for an apartment through the terminal, we use the services of banks that do not have standard representative offices and work only online. Smart homes and drones are now common things while they were a novelty 2 decades ago.

    According to IDC estimates, soon, 40% of all technology costs will be spent on digital transformation.

    This strategy stimulates the process of business change: a set of transformations through the introduction of an innovative culture in a company, adaptation of business models, the widespread use of data, customer-centricity, and value management.

    Innovation

    Innovations are everywhere today. Everybody seeks a ready-made recipe that will solve all issues. Digital technology makes it possible to experiment a lot. In olden times we did a lot of marketing research and engineering to get a ready product. Today the businesses constantly try and test their solutions on the go. Various project management systems allow us to form innovation research centers in companies using flexible methodologies. The main talk today is regular testing of new areas of business development, products, and solutions.

    Thought Leadership

    The performance of a remote team is not always transparent. Some pitfalls may remain unnoticed for a considerable time. The drawbacks of the project, which was not monitored, can be discovered right before the deadline. Sometimes it is difficult to get a clear report on the state of things. To avoid this, remote teams should have clear templates for typical tasks and projects, stage by stage describing all the actions, as well as their responsibilities. It will allow everybody to be more efficient, and everyone else will see the status of the work, and who is responsible for it.

    Companies should engage in thought leaders’ strategies. They offer solutions to show companies exactly what flexibility their employees need, where companies are failing to deliver, and how to make targeted investments in flexibility.

    Online Security

    The security risk is the first reason why companies avoid remote workers. Employees have access to confidential data and intellectual property from home devices. And communication lines aren’t always protected enough creating a risk of the data privacy breach. There is a risk of data leakage if an employee saves confidential information on the desktop. A personal computer can be hacked, especially if passwords are not unique and complex.

    Small business owners must provide security measures for telecommuting employees. For example, virtual private network solutions for use in open Wi-Fi connections, antimalware endpoint software for all employees.

    How to Do Digitally Remote Business During the Virus Outbreak?

    Any crisis is an opportunity to put your technical processes and work regulations in order, and to pump your own professional skills. Now, many employers will also have to demonstrate their flexibility. Are organizations ready to respond quickly to challenges? In most cases, they are not. However, if no prompt actions are taken, the companies will face unrest in the team: someone will decide to play it safe and quarantine themselves, others will come to the office with the masks. But everyone will look askance at a sneezing colleague. Sooner or later, the team itself will begin to ask for a remote mode. According to Blind’s anonymous employer feedback app (over 2,000 managers of technology companies around the world have been interviewed), 70% of respondents have already wondered if they should go to work tomorrow. How to switch to a remote mode? Here are a few steps to build an efficient business infrastructure for remote employees:

    IP-Telephony 

    The conversation is the main way of people’s interaction. Conventional telephone calls will be expensive if the project participants live in different cities or even countries. Besides, telephone lines are rapidly aging and rarely support conference calls, therefore, it will not work to organize the communication for more than two people. Besides, offices are actively introducing VoIP technologies to increase the efficiency of work coordination and cut down expenses. 

    Messengers 

    These apps are excellent for instant messaging and the transfer of accurate data (links, fragments of program code, or text). They record the history, which means that you can always return to the information contained in a conversation. The choice of application is huge. You can also order a more advanced customized messenger from specialists. And in return, you will get better data security and a flexible add-on for the personal needs of the organization.

    Online Presentations 

    A complete set of functions is not needed in all projects, therefore modularity is an important aspect of groupware. For example, you can set only a workgroup calendar to track project lead times. Besides, there are many developments for audio and video conferencing – with their help, you can conduct teleconferences and remote presentations.

    Digital Platforms for Project Management

    Workforce collaboration tools for online cooperation help managers and the team of employees keep abreast of the progress of the implementation of projects, which may change and which cannot always be tracked in time.

    In the task manager, you can set tasks for company departments, workgroups, or individual employees. All tasks are collected in one place and you can easily monitor the progress of your team.

    Cloud Technologies

    You can use cloud technology to reduce the cost of the process of organizing remote access. In this case, all data will not be stored on physical media, but in remote processing centers, where you simply rent a place and services without any investment in equipment. Most global software manufacturers have long been offering cloud-based options for their services (for example, Microsoft Office365), so your employees will always have access to all programs, applications, documents – they just need to connect to the cloud. 

    Coronavirus is a chance of the most ambitious experiment concerning the labor market. And many companies are already testing the remote work model. Current events will change corporate culture significantly. Remote workers and freelancers will move to a new level of understanding. And some of the companies will continue to implement the possibilities for remote employees after the global pandemic.


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