In December 2019, the world was abruptly exposed to a novel coronavirus commonly referred to as COVID-19. The viral infection, causing severe respiratory symptoms spread throughout China and then the world.
Now, in March 2020, entire countries are under lockdown. Average citizens are only permitted outside for essential shopping only — businesses are going bankrupt, closing temporarily, or are being forced to work remotely — the military is being deployed — the global economy is coming to a standstill.
The inconveniences of daily life are making it clear just how unprepared governments, corporations, and the world are for a major emergency. Online activities are soaring as people stay home; we are seeing massive spikes in disastrous e-learning and remote work as schools shut down and companies close their office doors to reduce the spread of the virus.
As these online activities begin to increase and are used daily, the holes in the system are becoming apparent.
Poor Planning = Bankruptcy
It’s no secret that most businesses are used to having employees in the office. Traditionalists deem in-person communication to be highly efficient and permits management to keep a close eye on the status of their employees à la micro-management.
In the event of a local or minor emergency, it’s easy to tell everyone to go home for a day or two until the situation blows over. However, the majority of businesses fail to have long-term disaster plans— what if their employees cannot come into the office for weeks, months, or even years? Companies that fail to plan will fail to stay in business, and no amount of cheap government capital will stop this.
In 2020, disaster situations can be easily planned for, and may just become the new standard at your company. Companies typically find that employees are more motivated and complete their daily assignments faster when working at home, and tools such as Slack and EUROPA make it easy to communicate and collaborate for remote workers.
Infrastructure Is An Asset — Not An Expense
Most companies view technology and infrastructure as an expense: yes, that server may cost $3,500, but it contains the entire customer database and would grind your business to a halt if it crashed. Investing money into proper information technology systems, including networking and security, backups and disaster recovery, end-user training and support, communication and collaboration, can significantly improve your business efficiency and resilience in a time of emergency.
Even the smallest details, such as allowing employees to use their personal devices to access company information, can have devastating effects on your business without proper planning. This system is commonly called “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD) and must be thoroughly considered and executed to prevent security events such as ransomware attacks, where all of your business data is encrypted and held ransom for Bitcoin.
Did your company invest in the technology required for long-term remote work? If the answer is no, it’s not the end of the world yet. There is still a short window of time to prepare your employees and infrastructure for remote work while maintaining high safety and productivity standards. Contact your existing IT administrator or a managed service provider such as Hartmann Industries to get started on a rapid remediation project to support COVID-19 remote work.
Workforce Redundancy & Automation
As the traditional business idea of working from an office begins to break down, companies will begin to realize that their workforce is redundant and that the same amount of work can be done by fewer employees. This cause and effect loop will lead to further layoffs as COVID-19 continues to mandate self-isolation.
Nearly 80 million jobs in the US economy are at high or moderate risk today. That’s more than half of the 153 million jobs in the economy overall. — Moody’s Analytics via CNN
In the upcoming weeks, companies will begin to focus on reducing expenses to weather the global recession. Payroll, typically being the largest expense, will be the first account to be put under scrutiny. Aside from layoffs, organizations will seek to permanently keep payroll low and turn to automation technologies to make up for any lost productivity. We expect to see more small-medium businesses and large enterprises take advantage of modern automation systems at an accelerating rate.
Companies technically capable of COVID-19 remote work still face tremendous challenges, primarily in the employee morale department. Humans are social creatures, and organizations should strive to provide similar social environments as in the office. Communication and company policies are key to a successful working environment.
Consulting with a business advisor or remote-work specialist now may save your business thousands of dollars in time theft. Mandating that employees complete their assignments while logging the appropriate amount of hours will keep the boundaries of remote work and home life clear, and help establish patterns to aid in future team collaboration.
In summary, COVID-19 presents a massive challenge to the global economy and businesses of all sizes. The effects of the current financial and health crisis will be felt for the foreseeable feature. Taking what may seem like dramatic steps now could very well save your company from going bankrupt.