THE Covid-19 pandemic has changed the daily activities of individuals and businesses alike. New behavioural patterns have emerged such as social distancing to limit the rate of infection. The corporate world will be challenged on both fronts, protecting both customers and employees and will be required to build a high degree of flexibility and continued resilience into their business operations in order to lower the risk of contagion.
With no clear path on the virus’ evolution and when it will end, organisations around the world may need to change the way in which they identify, assess and mitigate risk. One key risk-mitigating strategy that has proven to be vital in this volatile time is the leverage of technology in order to facilitate customer demand while at the same time ensuring operational efficiency.
Post Covid-19, working from home may become a standard for many businesses. The governing authorities’ push to keep all non-essential employees away from their offices has been the primary social distancing measure implemented to stop the spread of the Covid-19 virus. This measure was facilitated by the increased use of remote technology and employees working from home and may be a trend that continues after the pandemic.
Given the nature of the circumstance, many companies were forced to switch to remote working over a very short time frame which added strain on existing information technology and communications infrastructure. For many companies with centralised operations, for long-term success, this switch will require in-depth security changes and structure adjustments to accommodate remote working post Covid-19. Cybersecurity will be of paramount importance as companies and their customers will be exposed to cybercrime more than ever, given the increased reliance on computer systems, mobile devices and the Internet to work and conduct transactions. Significant investment in cybersecurity infrastructure will be required, but this will provide for an enhanced ease of doing business going forward.
To complement the work-from-home initiative, organisations may need to invest in cloud computing that involves the storing and accessing of data programmes over the Internet instead of a computer hard drive or server. The cloud does not require a dedicated network attached to a storage hardware or server in residence. As a result, employees do not have to be physically present at a company’s premises in order to access the organisations vital networks and programmes. This technology does pose additional security risks however, and will require the implementation of appropriate cyber safety measures, further increasing overhead costs.
Physical meetings may be a thing of the past as some degree of social distancing may still be required, as such, conferences and meetings may be required to be carried out virtually. With video conferencing tools becoming increasingly popular, it is likely that this will become a dominant practice in the post Covid-19 office. While hosting meetings online has its benefits such as being more convenient for all participants, to ensure the protection of trade secrets and valuable information, web conferencing security measures must be implemented.
Traditional forms of marketing such as print and radio advertisements may lose their effectiveness in terms of market reach owing to the forced removal of customers due to the social distancing and travel restriction measures. Digital marketing will now become essential to getting business back on track. This type of marketing involves the use of the Internet, mobile devices, social media, search engines and other digital channels to reach customers. With the digital world being the primary communication medium for many as they are stuck at home, businesses that capitalise on marketing digitally may likely experience an increase in sales post Covid-19.
Proper training of the workforce is a vital ingredient in the success of any organisation. While online training has been in existence for some time, greater value may be placed on the virtual learning post Covid-19. Consequently, the policies and programmes which govern training and development of staff in an organisation may need to shift away from customary learning methods to online training.
It is evident that technology and security will play an important role in the way business operations are conducted post Covid-19. Organisations that adapt to the winds of change as has happened in the past are the ones that are likely to be most successful. Unfortunately, businesses that do not build this level of flexibility into their business models may be left behind.