While the current Covid19 Coronavirus pandemic represents one of the biggest challenges to the global economy in a generation, there are reasons to think that, in the mid-to-long-term at least, it could have a positive impact on global commerce and international markets.
Right now, in the midst of the (admittedly justifiable) doom and gloom of the outbreak, that statement may well appear to come deep out of left field. However, many analysts believe that enterprises and business that survive the short term pain of the pandemic, will emerge as leaner, more agile beasts, who are better able to meet and service the needs of their customers.
One thing that the Covid19 pandemic has proven is that the job you were previously told could not be done remotely, can in fact be done entirely remotely. Thanks to a swathe of remote working solutions currently on the market, the modern workforce has never been better equipped to work from home.
And whilst the industry has been historically reticent to embrace work from home initiatives, there is plenty of research to suggest that workers who are allowed to do so are actually better motivated, more content and even more productive.
A recent study, published by Airtasker, found that remote workers remain productive over the course of a typical working day for 10 minutes longer than their office based counterparts. Remote workers also end up putting in an additional 1.4 days of productive work time per month – which is equivalent to an additional 3 working weeks of productive time per year. So, could working from home be a win-win for employers and employees alike?
Remote workers build stronger, more agile businesses
Many analysts believe that the current Covid19 pandemic could well be the acid test that validates a whole range of smarter, remote working initiatives and practices.
In a recent report, entitled Covid19: Confidently navigate through the Coronavirus crisis, US analyst firm PWC argues that firms who learn lessons from the current market conditions will emerge as stronger, more agile businesses who are better able to nimbly react to the bespoke demands of their client base.
“Consider what happens not just today, but tomorrow and beyond. This may involve allocating dedicated resources who are freed up from the day-to-day pressure of managing the crisis. The resulting wider and longer term perspective can help make the company’s emergence from the crisis even stronger and more sustainable.
“In our experience, the response window for a crisis is typically measured in months, while recovery is measured in years. Now is the time to run scenarios to create a crisis agnostic plan that’s fit for your business,” the report read.
Planning for the long term
With more than 500,000 cases of the Covid19 Coronavirus reported around the world, the pandemic shows no sign of abating, at least in the short term. Businesses therefore need to formulate contingency plans that cater for the mid to long term prognosis. Many analysts believe that rather than devising specific contingency plans for this isolated incident, businesses need to re-evaluate their business plans on a permanent basis, in order to safe guard against a resurgence of the pandemic or other unseen challenges in the months and years ahead.
Remote working platforms that enable close collaboration between employees, employers and customers will be of paramount importance. Voice over IP protocols, social engagement platforms and remote conferencing applications will all play a crucial role in facilitating remote working strategies.
Here in the Middle East, the governments of the United Arab Emirates and Oman have both relaxed restrictions on VoIP services and other collaborative platforms to ensure that businesses can stay connected and work productively for the foreseeable future. They are reportedly considering further measures to facilitate remote working and commerce.
“I highly recommend that the UAE now re-visits its ban on VoIP video calls in light of the spread of Coronavirus. If we want people not to meet in person, let them conduct their business online. The benefit of the entire economy outweighs the benefit to a single firm,” said noted Emirati academic, Sultan Sooud Al Quassemi, earlier this month.
As enterprises look to safeguard their businesses against the enormous financial impact of the Covid19 Coronavirus epidemic, remote working will form a central pillar of their business plans for the foreseeable future. Indeed, with higher levels of productivity and superior levels of staff contentment in a digitally enabled remote workforce, it’s safe to assume that remote working is here to stay.
Businesses have never had more choice in terms of finding strategic partners for their digitalisation and remote working transformations than they do today. If industry players can adapt to the demands of the current global pandemic, we may well witness permanent, radical change in the way that businesses choose to operate, with workers utilising a plethora of remote working tools and services. While there will undoubtedly be some short term pain, it’s just possible that the Coronavirus pandemic will turn out to be the biggest enabler of remote working initiatives – and that, in itself, has to be a good thing.