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BY Mandeep Malhotra

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We are currently in an era that will go down as one of the biggest in history – human, medical, economic, business or otherwise. The year 2020 changed everything instantly, almost abruptly. Governments and societies scurried to control the spread of the novel and unknown virus, with travel restrictions, airport shutdowns, containment zones and eventually complete countrywide lockdowns.

Businesses all across the globe were disrupted. While some organizations took early steps to help mitigate the rapid spread of the new virus, many others did so only post mandatory Government orders for shutdowns. Nonetheless, organisations big and small have been affected by the pandemic, with uncertain timelines. The world, as we know it now, will not be the same again. Though we are still in the midst of the unprecedented crisis, one can’t help but think about what the world might be like once we are safely able to step out of the door and try to get back to our normal lives. In the past, we may have faced and tided over many economic downturns and market slumps, but staring down the barrel this time, it may not be ‘back to business as usual’ as easily. But business conditions will eventually improve, and we will get stronger and be more prepared.

The optimist in me is sure that we will be able to rebuild and shape a better, more humane future and with time create a new normal. The world will be a better place, here’s why I think so.

  1. The biggest learning the entire world takes back is the most basic – ‘Good Hygiene’ - washing your hands frequently, cleaning your personal devices - phones, laptops, tablets, earphones, or keeping your surroundings sanitised regularly.
  2. We are witnessing a phenomenon that most of us have never experienced before, especially in this part of the world. And we cannot know for certain how long we will continue our current, and newly adopted way of life. Reduced mobility of resources, less productivity and involuntary salary revisions across industries have compelled us to re-structure spending habits and reconsider non-essential spends. In time, we will learn to save more, create reserves for rainy days and develop a culture of preparedness.
  3. The universal call for social distancing has revolutionised the way we use technology. As a consequence of the pandemic, the world has been coerced into moving digitally. We’re not just talking about digital payments, banking or entertainment, but also routinely working together as a team online, conducting those crucial client meetings on video calls or working on specialised softwares remotely. We have been able to bridge an essential communication gap. With the right resources, WFH is possible.
  4. Time is one of our most valuable resources. The stay-at-home mandate has afforded us more time, which we typically spend wading through traffic snarls or lengthy train commutes. It’s fantastic to see people ‘Gadget Distancing’, and using this time to hone new skills – perfecting that dish or cocktail, refining those dance moves, taking on new workout challenges, online courses or learning a new language altogether.
  5. We are fortunate to live at a time when mobile technology is more advanced than ever before. We can communicate with loved ones, procure critical real-time information or simply order online from any part of the world from the comfort of our homes. With most of the world WFH, even with ample bandwidth, periods of congestion can hamper critical communications. We instinctively learn the value of data and importance of preserving and prioritising available bandwidth.
  6. For smaller businesses and start-ups, resilience will be the keyword. Right now is when these businesses have to make tough choices in order to sail through or even survive this period. The learnings we take now will make us more resilient going forward. More contingency plans, wider skillsets, smarter utilization of resources and expense planning will help us future-proof in the face of any eventual downturns.

Until then stay home, stay safe, and continue learning. With patience, persistence and a load of learnings, we will overcome COVID-19!


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