China – the world’s second largest economy was the first to be hit by the COVID-19 outbreak and the world as we knew it has completely changed ever since. Uncertainty loomed around for a long time. Travel was forced to a halt, shutters on stored were down and theme parks closed down. Wearing masks was mandates – social distancing has become a new normal. China however has been at least seven weeks ahead of the world and corporate responses in China have become the focal point for Wall Street analysts and as the country gradually opens and the rest of the world prepares to do the same, most companies are using early experiences of China as a blueprint for other regions. Companies are introducing new strategies to work – it won’t take life to normal, but will create a new normal for the way businesses work.
Work has changed
The average work places are beginning to look very different. Katsikakis, a London-based partner who focuses on innovation and emerging practices has been drawing up strategies and advising companies around the world on how to get back to work. This firm has already moved 1 million workers back into offices in China.
The top priority is to set up Six-Feet-Offices – which is basically to implement social distancing and make sure that the building is ready and people are ready to work in the new environment. Desk are actually six feet apart and the environment is maintained ‘healthy’. So, instead of swiping an entry pass, offices will need to implement facial recognition camera or QR codes on the phone. In order to reduce contaminants, companies are expected to invest in air filtration systems and systems that help avoiding the contamination of regularly touched surfaces. A pad of paper over the workstation and replacing it daily. Remote working for as many employees as possible – it is an effective ways of working too.
Communication at the workplaces has changed too. Enterprise software demand will also boom. Messaging and video conferencing software will also be in demand. The number of users for these apps have already gone up 70% since last month.
Shopping has changed (ecommerce)
Shopping habits are also changing. Online shopping has really accelerated in the past few months. Digital sales in rose more than 30% last quarter. Companies are launching more and more products online. Speed is becoming important too. Nike was one of the earliest adopters of serving customers at home – even Air Jordans – thy launched even their limited edition sneakers online.
Managing supply chains
The global supply chain has also been forced to reinvent ways to work. Supply chains are designed to prioritize efficiency over flexibility and resilience. But over the last few months, there has been shortage of raw materials and critical supplies, and workers not physically present to work. This has forced businesses to rethink how they ship out their goods. We realize that we took so many things for granted. Every segment of moving cargo is affected – especially trucks are not allowed across the borders. IBM, in the light of things is offering an AI based supply chain management program and more and more businesses are seeking out predictive modelling against the crisis. The pandemic has truly been a wakeup call for all businesses. Even Governments across the globe are getting into action and are trying to seal the cracks that have been exposed in the supply chain by the outbreak. Sealing and rebuilding will take significant capital and cash growth for the companies.