How companies restructured their operations in response to COVID-19

The COVID-19 has severely affected how organizations and companies carry out their operations in very many aspects. With countries facing a slowdown of economic activities and challenges of financial flows, many of them have been forced to redesign their business models in attempt to continue being profitable, flexible, and cost-efficient.

One of the sectors that was massively affected is the supply chain. You cannot talk about COVID-19 and miss to mention how this sector was greatly crippled. Right from the supply of raw materials, components all the way to finished goods, a good example is the face masks and ventilators. This led to curtailed production, product shortages, and financial stress across other ranges of industries to which they depend on the supply chain to continue their operations.

Tech companies, apparel makers, and industrial-equipment manufacturers were the most affected given that they are most reliant on inputs from coronavirus epicenters — China and Southeast Asia which are so embedded into the world’s supply chains. The pandemic forced the companies to do a restructuring various operations to keep afloat in the changing business environment. 

Normalized remote working

One major and first change that companies and organizations did to ensure the safety of their employees was to ask them to work from home to avoid physical contacts with each other which has been proved to be the main spreader of the COVID-19 virus.  People from across the world quickly figured out how to work from home and were able to make the transition seamlessly by installing internet services at their homes and dedicating some rooms for office work to avoid disturbance from the children.

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Employers were obviously worried in the first weeks and wanted to find techniques on how they could assess the employee performance, productivity, and time they were going to do the office work, given that the 9-to-5 workday was unlikely and they needed to accommodate a number of factors facing their employees. Others who were smart enough trusted the employees emphasizing on results-driven rather than presence approach.

In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta during his first COVID-19 press conference announced that government offices, businesses, and companies should find ways to allow employees to work from home, with the exception of employees working in critical or essential services. He directed the concerned ministries to establish and implement frameworks to support staff work from home.

While there are other industries that celebrated and cut the cost of the rent in their offices, other industries suffered a big blow as a result of this move. Undoubtedly, the real estate is one of them as their city center offices were vacated. Their spaces were no longer needed. There are some companies though that did not send all employees on full-time home working.  They made hot desk arrangements plans to allow staff to work in smaller offices a few days a week.

Accelerated digital adoption

The pandemic turned companies and organizations to adopt digital channels for most of their aspects in weeks, industries that would have taken years to migrate to digital took a dramatic turn and focused their finances on establishing digital infrastructures. Many of them quickly moved to accommodate the massive shifts from meals and groceries, to finance and education, to fitness.

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Nearly all organizations, whether traditional companies or start-ups have reoriented their business models to be more digital.  The urgency of the pandemic also helped many organizations find the urgent budget for technology innovation.

According to McKinsey Digital Global Survey, companies have accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions and of their internal operations by three to four years. And the share of digital or digitally enabled products in their portfolios has accelerated by a shocking seven years.

Many companies are now making crisis-related solutions with the long term in mind, for example, some have tapped cybersecurity to help compensate for the existence of a mobile workforce, employees using personal devices, and to ensure that workplace data remains secure. The need to work and interact with customers remotely required investments in data security, communication tools, collaborative software, and accelerated migration to the cloud.

Companies and organizations adopted new modes of communication

The COVID-19 pandemic made companies realize the role digital transformation plays in communications. With many employees turning to voice calls, video calls, text messaging, social media, and online messaging app, the providers of these services saw a surge in their user numbers with Zoom being the major beneficiary of the pandemic. The app went from being a niche business software popular among tech companies to the daily dose of every citizen with a smartphone across the globe.

Screenshots of Zoom’s daily virtual video meetings became our daily content on Facebook and Twitter. The virtual meetings have now become part and parcel of many organizations that even if people attended their physical meetings, they would still stream. We witnessed many virtual graduations last year in public and private universities. Who would have thought that graduation would come that didn’t need buses ferrying relatives from the village? These virtual meetings have fostered continued social interaction when colleagues see each other on video calls in their homes, dressed casually, with family members and pets making random appearances.  

Enock Bett
Digital Media Enthusiast|Tech, Business, Corporate Affairs, Politics, and Governance. [No Modes]
EMAIL: [email protected]
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Enock Bett

Digital Media Enthusiast|Tech, Business, Corporate Affairs, Politics, and Governance. [No Modes] EMAIL: [email protected]

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