COVID-19 Pandemic and Business Continuity: Are We Heading for a New Normal of Business Models?

Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic outbreak has thrown a new puzzle to be fixed by not only the healthcare industry and its associated professionals but everyone across the globe in every nation including the business world and also the general public.

Coming as a sudden surprise affecting almost every sector in the marketplace, today it has transformed into a worldwide concern. Its velocity of spread has put everyone into awe and challenged the current business models of the organizations, expecting a rapid response to challenges surrounding these organizations. It has created disruptions to existing supply chains while confronting and antagonizing the means and ways of an organization’s operations.

The pandemic invited or rather challenged the organizations to think, introduce, and execute radical and vigorous approaches to continuing the business operations for its long term sustainability.

Business Continuity during Pandemic
An unexpected COVID-19 episode has surrounded the organizations with a vast number of unknown uncertainties. These obscure dynamics have disrupted organizations across the globe in many ways.

In an interlinked business environment, it has disrupted the domestic and international supply chains and eventually has created an unimaginable impact on the continuity of its operations in particular, and its contribution to the national economic development agenda at large.

The magnitude of impact as a result of this pandemic reaches greater severity when the business has been compelled to downsize or close during the pandemic. Local and international economic chains are disrupted and forced to change their behavior. By the time the global pandemic comes to end which is still remained uncertain, most of the economic chains will be disrupted, collapsing small boys and forcing them to exit the economic system, weakening the big boys forcing them to either undergo rescaling or to a worse extent, to exit the market, and stronger boys take control through consolidation.

In dubious occasions such as these, plans must be in place to proceed with tasks through that crisis circumstances for a speedy resumption of business operations. While disaster management plan is a long-practiced approach, to what extent such approaches are aiding organizations in overcoming a pandemic phobia and its short (to probably mid-term) transitory interruptions is debatable for the subtle attention and relaxed thoughtfulness which may be in existence for the business world to react fast, if not proactively to uncertain episodes affecting the business.

Today, the organizations are forced to think not only outside the box but beyond, to discover and consider value-creating business processes that in the past were deemed to be unthinkable or unattainable. Prolonged outbreaks with massive penetration across the globe invited every organization, public, and private to assess their readiness to the potential effect it might have on their business operations and eventual impact on its long term sustainability.

The focus now has been turned towards restoration and recommence of their business operations to minimize the economic impact to the shareholders, stakeholders, and its economic wellbeing. This has called for a new normal in the business environment. Areas that have remained grey in the past have started to gain more attention and these grey areas have started to visualize greater clarities in doing business differently.

Above all, the organizations are identifying ways to provide a layer of assurance to their most significant constituents who include shareholders and employees who are greatly affected due to the pandemic while constraining the adverse effect on the economy and communities. It is the vigilance and readiness, but not the panic behavior, that is the most ideal approach to relieve the dangers presented by a COVID-19 pandemic.

New Normal of Business Models

New Normal
Certainly, the pandemic has damaged the current economic model and restated beliefs that exist in economic theories. The long-standing economic principles have been challenged and proven to be not up-to-date. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the business scene by challenging the business practices and processes installed in place today.

It has provided enough evidence and visibility that tomorrow’s condition will be unique, and will present new opportunities to the people who are well prepared while creating disruptions beyond one’s imagination to relaxed-minded communities. It is an undeniable truth that the present pandemic and its severe implication to the world are different compared to the disruptions the world has seen and witnessed in the past.

The world is undergoing another cycle of economic challenge. However, the challenges observed in the present COVID-19 crisis are totally different ball games, insisting the organisations to reinvent and redesign their business models towards a new normal.

The normal of today has proven to be less elastic to cater to newer disruptions and there is an inevitable need to look into new normal of business operations to create a sophisticated, more vigilant and agile business model to cope with challenges to be presented in the future. It will be driven by a new regulatory framework across the globe and a very different competitive landscape of industries.

The new business models as a result of new normal business operations will also have newfangled implications to two important constituents to any business model, namely business itself and the people being the driver of the business models.

Business Implications to a New Normal
The new, unanticipated challenges posed to the business world have critical implications and needing deliberate attention. Many questions are on the list to be addressed.

Among others, organizations are facing pressing challenges in redefining the work structure, communication structure, job roles and responsibilities beyond traditional office atmosphere, triggers and procedures in executing a new normal business model, and the types of tools, technologies, and platforms for a seamless work environment.

The method of working away from the physical office and to remain connected is no longer an innovation in work practices. The COVID-19 pandemic has challenged this self-claimed innovation which was seen as a new way forward as a result of industrial-revolution 4.0. One cannot deny the benefits of this new work structure but the present COVID-19 scenario has proven and very likely, the post-COVID-19 situation will prove that the current structure in place is inadequate and impose new requirements to discover more radical ways for the future business environment.

Work-From-Home (WFH) strategy as a part of telecommuting practices is not a result of a carefully thought process but an immediate measure to ensure continuity of the business operations. The WFH concept as of today has highlighted numerous challenges to everyone working from home since it was not carefully deliberated and designed strategy.

This concept will set the way forward for the future of work where people can work seamlessly on a real-time basis or workforce who were thought to be unemployable all these while (e.g. potential workforce with disabilities) will start seeing a light at the end of the tunnel to join an existing workforce as a result of WFH concept given all the important drivers mentioned above are considered in the new normal business models.

Organizations will have to be ready to accept the discontinuation of existing buying behaviors of customers. A shift to a new normal of business may mean the adoption of virtual services much faster than expected when the demand returns. This may invent a new concept for industrial customers, a Buy-From-Home (BFH) strategy (“Home” in the context of their own premises) where physical interaction might become lesser and lesser, substituted by virtual communications, eventually requiring the organization to again redefine what is Customer Relationship Management means to them in this new normal business model.

Irrespective of what the future holds for every organization, the truth is that COVID-19 has broken the existing beliefs about business practices that have been incepted decades ago with only incremental changes over time. It has only made the current normal of business less relevant and prompting pressing needs to venture into a new normal of business models that cater to greater unanticipated disruptions in the future.

People Implications to a New Normal
People being the driver of any business model in the past, present or future will be required to improve their adaptability towards new work designs. The main concern among the working population has been work-life balance which receives constant attention for decades.

Changes to business models in the past and present require the organizations to redefine the truest definition of work-life balance. While the past and present have seen work-life balance in the forms of work hours and after work hours, WFH has once again redefined the work-life balance concept. If the WFH method is to be used as a way forward, the drivers mentioned in business implications to a new normal will pose next level challenges when work and life made to function parallel and synchronously. They may add even more complexities to service and non-service organization.

Notwithstanding, the business model may not be applicable to the entire organization given the fact that not all organizational citizens are having the flexibility of WFH. The organizational citizens’ productivity monitoring, performance appraisal, career progression and many other facets in relation to the organizational citizen will require new form and substance to execute the new normal business models.

Such practices may pose simultaneous challenges to various functions in the organizations (e.g. Human Resources, Finance and Administration, Sales and Marketing, etc.) whether this function can be dealt with in isolation while implementing the concept of WFH. Will this create a new form of governing regulation from regulatory bodies in protecting the welfare of organizational citizen remain another huge challenge to be undertaken by the organization hand in hand with regulatory and governing bodies. Without legitimate direction and structured open lines of communication, a WFH concept can only be susceptible to discomfort and panic.

As we have already seen, the COVID-19 outbreak has received multiple conspiracy theories in explaining the phenomenon. However, COVID-19 pandemic is not the real panic. The end game of the pandemic is a seriously damaged and weakened economy which will hurt the poor and make the rich stronger. This will result in the ultimate social distancing due to unconceivable gaps between the controlling parties (the rich) and the slaves (the poor).

This is not only going to restructure the business models of the future but also a complete revamp of the social structure leaving little freedom to the majority in controlling the minority. The worst is yet to come, let’s wait for the global pandemic to come to an end to understand the real impact. We have passed our days but the generation to come will have a more expensive price to pay in the future, not in terms of monetary values but slavery to new economic models.

1 thought on “COVID-19 Pandemic and Business Continuity: Are We Heading for a New Normal of Business Models?”

  1. Avatar
    SRi prakathiswaran

    An undeniable truth revealed by Dr. Shathees Baskaran as a professional view regarding COVID-19 pandemic and its impact to the economy. Many significant points have been highlighted in his views under the tag of “The New Normal”. His professional opinions relate Business Continuity, Business Implications and People Implications in triangular mode to the new business model. Indeed the pandemic had proved the size does not matter to disrupt the matters(things). Yet, many sky soaring industries keep in faith that they can make a comeback. That is merely possible if there is a revamp in business approaches as mentioned by Dr. Shathees. It was good read though and I would like to convey my wishes and thanks to Dr. Shathees for publishing such an exploratory article for “reader’s digest”.

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