The world is undoubtedly in a tussle with the emergence of COVID-19 (from the Coronavirus). In March, it was officially declared a pandemic by the WHO; a sign of its rapid proliferation around the globe within the last few months. In Africa alone, there have been more than 5,000 confirmed cases. Here in Nigeria, there are 131 cases (at the time of this writing). This momentum doesn’t seem to be easing up soon and the effects are there to see.
Inevitably, much more than the health of humans is being affected. Nigeria is currently on a partial lockdown just like many other countries worldwide. The stock market and a whole lot of other economic activities have dwindled significantly round the globe. In some countries, the disruption is so great that we could see a recession of entire industries or entire economies – a problem that could have ripple effects globally.
The good news is we can do our bit to individually stifle its spread and help steady the ship. As an employer, employee, consumer, or wherever you fit within the economy, adopting the right mindset could help you make the best of the current situation. When it comes to working in such a sensitive time, we should keep the following in mind:
Anticipate Some Losses
If you own a portfolio of stocks, you must already be cringing at the volatility in the value of your assets. Historic amounts have already been lost and it seems bound to continue. This is especially true if you own stocks in the biggest companies situated in developed countries. Sadly, securities are not the only industry affected.
Many popular competitions, conferences, events, etc have either been put on hold or cancelled altogether. It’s already having a profound effect on many economies and governing bodies are scrambling for ways to mitigate it. With all this in mind, it’s fair to say that you might encounter your share of losses. Some money and/or time could be lost at some point – this is a reality that has to be addressed pragmatically and proactively. At this point, measures should be taken to ensure maximum damage control and to emerge in a strong position to get back on track. Think about how best to maintain the status quo during the peak of an outbreak and its eventual aftermath.
Prepare To Work Remotely
If the spread of the virus accelerates at its current pace, we can expect a scenario in which a lot of work will be done remotely – this is the socially responsible way to go. CEOs and executives should prepare, as it’ll be smoother to ease into a remote working situation than being forced into it abruptly. This is a situation that might persist for a while, so it’s best to get accustomed to it as soon as possible. Here are some things to consider in this transition:
Agree on all objectives: to ease any friction caused by going remote, It’s best to agree on what needs to be achieved within a set time and how it’ll be done. That way, there’s clarity which would be helpful going forward.
Set Milestones: Employers should set achievable time-sensitive milestones to ensure the best results. Employees should be disciplined and try to eliminate all factors that could prevent milestones from being achieved.
Make all relevant tools available: Every digital tool needed for communication and task completion should be readily available and in great condition. This includes all relevant software and hardware needed, depending on the industry.
Communicate Seamlessly: create a digital atmosphere that enables authentic conversations to be had, the same way it would be if everyone was present in person. Put all factors in place that would make communication seamless. It will be key to making virtual work successful.
Try To Optimize Your Processes
A time like this is great to have a review of your processes to see what can be improved, and how. If a pandemic is capable of disrupting everyday tasks now, perhaps it’s beneficial to see how such disruption can be minimized in the event of something similar in the future. You can start by asking:
• What exactly are you not able to do?
• What exactly is stopping you from doing it?
• How can you eliminate/mitigate what is stopping you right now or in the near future?
If you can successfully answer these questions, you’d find yourself in much better shape in the aftermath of the pandemic. You will inevitably be confronted with some unique challenges during this period; it’ll be up to you to take it as an opportunity to evolve or possibly capitulate. I suggest you go with the former.
Time To Catch Up
Think of this as an opportunity to catch up on things that wouldn’t necessarily be your biggest priorities. Between the stress of a daily commute and inevitable distractions in the workplace, some important things can get left behind. During this time, you can:
• Catch up on those tasks you might’ve procrastinated on (We all have a few).
• Dedicate more time to self-development. That could include learning new skills, acquiring new habits, etc.
• Practice a pitch, finetune a business plan, etc.
• Check your inbox for messages that could’ve been missed.
Take All Necessary Precautions
This might be obvious, but still worth noting. At the moment, we know that great hygiene, social distancing and washing your hands regularly are the easiest ways to avoid contracting the virus. Masks are more effective for infected persons who do not wish to infect others, and not very effective if you’re a healthy person trying to protect themselves from the virus. If you’re unsure, here are some other tips from the WHO:
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
• Cover your nose using the inside of your elbow or a tissue.
• Avoid crowded places and close contact with anyone who has a fever/cough. • Stay at home if you feel unwell.
• If you have a fever, cough, or breathing difficulty, seek medical care early.
Don’t Judge Actions Taken As a Result Of This
This is a call to show your compassionate, human side. A lot of things are going to happen as a result of this pandemic, and people are going to react in varying ways – you should be ready to accept this. If someone doesn’t want a handshake, doesn’t want a physical meeting, or suffers an anxiety attack, this has to be gracefully accepted with limited judgment. Uncertain times tend to draw uncertain reactions from most people, and that’s okay. People would come under numerous personal, financial, and religious pressures, and this could bring about unorthodox decisions/actions -this should be anticipated and put under less scrutiny. As an employer and employee, uncomfortable decisions would have to be made and compromise is inevitable. But in the context of a global health crisis, not many compromises would be extreme.
It’s important to note that while this pandemic might drag on for a while, there’s reason to believe it will eventually be curtailed. But in the meantime, the world must keep on spinning, and industries/economies must keep running. Even though most of us will lose in some way, we don’t have to lose so badly. The right mindset would help us adapt during this crisis, and also put us in a strong position in its aftermath.