Undoubtedly, all business establishments irrespective of their strength and type of industry have been already affected by the recent outbreak of COVID-19 to a great extent. With the entire education sector coming close to a standstill, (and certain cities under complete lockdown) all dependent industries have also suffered terribly.
Perhaps the most overwhelming challenge, the majority of businesses are struggling with right now, is to transition their workforce to several online platforms, in order to implement ‘work from home’ culture ensuring continuity of workflow. And despite having necessary technological advancements, expertise available in the market, a vast majority workforce is still not equipped enough to exploit the various advantages offered by such initiatives, largely due to lack of right infrastructure and awareness.
MediaNews4U spoke to Rupal Dalal, Executive Director of JD Institute of Fashion Technology and Neha Kulwal, Country Manager, Admitad India.
On the implications of the Corona Virus on the industry Neha Kulwal, said “Corona Virus’ impact on our business and industry has been mixed so far in the past two months. While the online sales in the categories of Travel and Goods from China have markedly dropped recently (around 45% dip), we have seen an upsurge in sales in the categories of pharmacy, hypermarkets, and insurances.
Last month, there was an increase of 76% in the sales of items in pharmacy due to unprecedented demand for hand sanitizers, masks and cleaning agents. Hypermarkets showed a rise of 20% in sales and financial (health & term insurances) categories marked a rise of about 40%.
Travel, electronics goods (mobile phones), apparel and shoes, furniture & household and phone offer categories are showing big downturns ranging from 50% to 90% drop.”
EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES:
Companies should make it mandatory to provide strict guidelines on all available platforms, whether through posters, blogs, IG stories, etc.for employees to ensure and educating them about the Do and Don’ts regarding prevention. Instructions must be given to maintain safe hygiene- use of hand sanitizers containing at least 60-95% alcohol, washing hands frequently with soap and water, Ensure there is an adequate supply of necessary preventive equipment’s such as face masks etc., teaching coughing and sneezing etiquettes, routine cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces in the workplace
In order to minimize risk, companies must first adhere to their respective countries’ government-sanctioned guidelines regarding practices of social distancing and sanitizing. Rising demand and sales in the categories of hypermarkets (20%), pharmacy (76%) and finance & insurance (40%) is a marker on how the markets will be like in the next couple of weeks, as more countries are reporting cases of coronavirus infection. Hand sanitizers, masks, online groceries, health, and term insurance are some of the items in these categories which are expected to escalate demand-led sales as more and more organizations and individuals are choosing proper precautionary measures against the further spread of Coronavirus.
STRONG BUSINESS CONTINGENCY PLAN:
Implementing flexible business hours, work from home arrangements (if feasible) can be particularly beneficial to safeguard the business and health of the employees
Given the developments on the technological front, there is an array of solutions for businesses to remotely conduct daily works, conferences, etc. Platforms such as Google Hangout, Skype have made it possible to allow employees to communicate and work online efficiently, without compromising on their safety
PREPARE FOR EMERGENCY SITUATIONS:
Businesses that are not structured effectively to prepare for emergencies, any uncalled for situations well in advance, could be left adrift without the right support system. Planning for a pandemic such as COVID-19 is crucial and it can be extremely beneficial in the long run, even for any possible outbreak in the future.
An important first step, especially for small/ medium size establishments would be to opt for strong business insurances, having a helpdesk / helpline available for the employees about the probable implications, in case the situation worsens or in scenarios of possible lockdowns.
In order to tackle the imminent employment and business risks, companies need to devise suitable policies around maximizing employee output, making the most of the Work From Home option, which is saving several hours of commuting time per individual. At Admitad, we have ensured that the internal tracking software CRM is keeping track of all activities, and also have the NAS drive for the back-up of data for every employee. The challenge with business development teams can be met to a significant degree by having the video conferencing platform in place, where real-time important business discussions can occur right from the sanitized spaces in this difficult time of coronavirus pandemic.
Businesses operating in more than on locations are advised to local managers to undertake necessary actions based on conditions in specific areas. Strong, clear coordination should be maintained routinely between state, local health officials and business representatives until the situation improves.
With office employees increasingly working out of their homes for the past two weeks, the only space that is connecting individuals and businesses these days is the internet, owing to the adoption of social distancing as a precautionary measure world-wide. It is expected that this will lead to more demand in the categories of hypermarkets, pharmacy, and finance & health and term insurance.
PREVENT PANIC LIKE SITUATION:
Fear-mongering as well as spreading rumors, misinformation gathered from unverified sources should be discouraged at all cost since it can rapidly spiral out of control and create a state of panic, instead of following the scientifically proven preventive guidelines