Covid 19 pandemic – Lessons we have learnt

The year 2020 has perhaps been the most disruptive year for all of us, both on a personal level as well as in business.

At the outbreak, we had to grapple with issues of ensuring our businesses could still operate, ensuring continuity, while also having to cope with being restricted to our homes for an extended period of time.

For better or for worse, despite the increase in the number of infections, we have more or less returned to some normalcy in terms of work, although we need to observe the SOPs.

It would be easy at this point to forget about or disregard the challenges we faced during the three and a half months from mid March to June where we were to a large extent, locked out from our work place. However, there has been a noticeable change in the way business has been conducted. The question remains as to whether we should adapt or retain the status quo pre-pandemic.

Regardless of which path we choose, it might be prudent to look at some of the challenges and decide whether we need to implement changes in the way we run our businesses.

  1. Access to systems and information
    This was perhaps the biggest challenge faced by most small and medium sized businesses. With the lockdown, most could not access their systems and were limited in their ability to work.
  2. Collaboration
    Some businesses had employees copy data out to their laptops and use that to work from home. Although this worked to a certain extent, there was limited ability to share information and collaborate internally.
  3. Communication
    This was less of an issue as there were so many options available.
    The tricky part was having meetings. We had to learn how to use one of the many online meeting platforms, but eventually, we more or less learnt the ropes.
  4. Control
    Under normal conditions, businesses do have standard operating procedures. These include a vetting and approval process. For example, payment to vendors would need approval before it is released, and this would entail compiling the invoices due for payment as well as verifying the accuracy and authenticity of each.
  5. Security
    Working remotely has security concerns.
    Is your data safe? Is it protected from malware? If you are accessing your data remotely, should you use a VPN or SSL?
    The other concern would be access by internal employees to unauthorised information. How would you restrict access while ensuring that work is not impeded?

Moving forward, as things move back to near normal, the question of whether everyone should go back to working from the office or would remote working be a viable option?

Ultimately, the question to ask ourselves would be if this pandemic is a once in a life time occurrence, or is there a likelihood of it happening again, and if it did, would we be better prepared?

Regardless of whether it will occur again, the other point of view would be, could we do business more efficiently and cost effectively if we adapted to some, if not most, of the new ways of doing business.

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