Undoubtedly, all business establishments, irrespective of their strength and type of industry, have been already affected greatly by the coronavirus pandemic. With the entire education sector coming close to a standstill (and the country under lockdown) all dependent industries have also suffered terribly.
Perhaps the most overwhelming challenge businesses are struggling with right now is transitioning their workforce to online platforms in order to implement a work-from-home policy and ensure continuity of workflow.
Despite having necessary technological advancements and expertise available in the market, a vast majority of the workforce is still not equipped enough to exploit the various advantages offered by such initiatives, largely due to lack of right infrastructure and awareness.
Measures companies should undertake to minimise the business risk/ employment problem:
Effective communication strategies
Companies should make it mandatory to provide strict guidelines on all available platforms, whether through posters, blogs, IG stories, etc. for employees ensuring and educating them about the dos and don'ts regarding prevention.
Instructions must be given to maintain safe hygiene. Use of hand sanitisers containing at least 60-95 percent alcohol, washing hands frequently with soap and water, ensuring there is adequate supply of necessary preventive equipment such as face masks, teaching coughing and sneezing etiquette, and routine cleaning of all frequently touched surfaces at the workplace.
Strong business contingency plan
Implementing flexible business hours and work-from-home arrangements will safeguard the business and health of the employees.
Given the developments on the technological front, there is an array of solutions to remotely conduct daily work. Platforms such as Google Hangout, Skype, and Zoom have made it possible to allow employees communicate and work online efficiently, without compromising their safety at this time.
Prepare for emergency situations
Businesses that are not structured effectively to prepare for emergencies in advance would find it difficult to cope without the right support system. Planning for unforeseen contingencies like the COVID-19 is crucial and it can be extremely beneficial in the long run.
An important first step, especially for small/ medium-size establishments, would be to opt for strong business insurances, having a helpdesk/helpline available for the employees to field questions on probable implications in scenarios of such lockdowns.
Businesses operating in more than one location should advise local managers to undertake necessary actions based on conditions in the specific area. Strong, clear coordination should be maintained routinely between state and local health officials and business representatives until the situation improves.
Prevent panic-like situation
Fear mongering as well as spreading rumours and misinformation gathered from unverified sources should be discouraged at all cost since it can rapidly spiral out of control and create state of panic, instead of following the scientifically proven preventive guidelines.
As we have seen already, the entire world is struggling to keep standing on its feet at this trying time. Undeniably, the entire industry, primarily the manufacturing industry and the informal sector—comprising daily wage workers, migrant labourers, domestic help—are among the worst affected areas.
But thanks to availability of technologies and our prompt responses in adaptation of alternative modes for continuity of work by some of the sectors have successfully managed to counter the negative effects triggered by the outbreak of coronavirus.
Like any major threats in the history of human civilisation, we will in time overcome the implications unleashed by the COVID-19 pandemic on an emerging economy like India. But while we are still coping with it, especially during a countrywide lockdown, it is essential that we respect the measures implemented by the government, stay healthy, and stay patient.
(Edited by Evelyn Ratnakumar)
(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)