Oddly reminiscent of the Spanish Flu days that struck India in June 1918, the country has been battling to stop the spread of Coronavirus or Covid -19 since January. And in these efforts, amidst global economic slowdown, the lockdown initiated is taking a big toll on businesses and seeking extraordinary demands from business leaders.
In fact, a business continuity manager was quoted in a report released by advisory services firm MitKat saying that the lockdown is forcing him to re-invent the business continuity playbook. “With a dozen interlinked manufacturing hubs, the contingency plan catered to shifting from one region to another; but with 100% plants closed, the business continuity bible has to be put aside as we search for the new normal,” the manager said. Business leaders are under tremendous pressure not only to keep their companies afloat but also prevent employees from being laid off.
However, even though the outlook showcases only gloom and doom, a report from MitKat hints towards a silver lining. According to the report, India might just recover from economic depression faster than is being anticipated due to geopolitical setting, trends and early steps taken by the central government.
The report explains that most countries in the South Asian region including India have insular economies with low foreign tourist arrivals and this not only decreases the risk of the virus spread but also gives these economies the bandwidth to weather recession-like phenomenon. To add to that, the government has taken proactive steps to ban international flights during the early days of transmission.
It also points out that South Asian countries has the world’s youngest population clusters with high immunity, and this again means that there are relatively less chances of deaths due to the virus and prolonged lockdowns to stop transmission.
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The report also speculates that there will be a geopolitical fallout due to the pandemic. It claims that the fallout would hasten the process of Chinese-American decoupling both in terms of technology and economics. The firm expects that European Union (EU) will too rethink its macro-economic strategy and move closer to USA, Canada and the other emerging economic powerhouses like Mexico, Egypt, India, Japan and Russia. In fact, it goes further to say that the EU will look at strengthening home industries, especially the pharmaceutical sector as it is currently 90% dependent on China.
But what is interesting to note is that MitKat feels that India will follow in the footsteps of US and EU and look at decreasing its dependence on China.
… a post COVID-19 India, would give a catalytic boost to the make-in-India campaign, in the medium to long term. EU would look attractive as a trading partner, and India would seek closer relations with Japan and BRICS, while continuing on its strategic trajectory with the USA,” the report reads. It also claims that India will shy away gradually from globalisation and look at nationalism.
Another economic advantage will be the roll back of crude oil prices. The outbreak will also weaken the petroleum cartel die to low demand and could essentially mean India could buy crude oil at rates below $50 in the future, the report explains.
However, it warns that if the country has to take advantage of these geopolitical changes, then it has to limit the impact of the Covid-19 crisis.
WHAT GLOBAL ORGANISATIONS IN SOUTH ASIA ARE DOING?
- Developing succession contingencies for all major executives
- Conducting business using virtual, video or audio capabilities
- Ban on travel and movement in alignment in government guidelines
- Reducing to business-critical operations only
- Moving critical operations to lesser regions
- Cross-training team members to perform critical functions in the event of an unexpected absence or quarantine of another team member
- Documenting business-critical functions, processes or procedures in the event of an unexpected absence or quarantine of a team member
- Distributing call center scripts and agent communications
HOW TO PROSPER IN THE NEW NORMAL?
- Prolonged WFH – identify and empower critical processes, critical employees
- Use new tools for remote management of workforce
- Figure out how to ensure people are working!
- Use a cluster approach rather than many locations
- Deploy a strong IT backbone to support remote logins
- Monitor contract management in terms of deliverables
- Put in place cybersecurity for home devices
- Timelines and processes – mapping and compliances
- Identify and empower critical vendors
- Extended Duty of Care – when employees are affected
- Online recruitment, on-boarding, training