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Working towards a better future - What can we learn from this pandemic?

Dealing with the Coronavirus and its impact on our lives has become our reality for the

foreseeable future. While it is still too early to even begin to understand the economic impact of the pandemic, for a lot of us survival is the only thing we are thinking off. Almost all of us are wishing to be able to get a glimpse into what the future would look like so we can plan for it. It is impossible to be able to predict what will happen – how long will this last? What will the future look like? However, we can take stock of what we know now and look at the future productively.

We at Falak have the need to view every situation with a “What can we learn from this?” and “What is a positive that we can see from a seemingly devastating situation?”. In that spirit, we summarize somethings we can embrace from those that the pandemic has forced upon us.

The pandemic has changed the way we work, and now we need to find a balance of what worked before and what needs to change in the future to ensure growth. Below are few practices that businesses can start and mindsets that leaders can adopt to better shape the way forward:

1. Make remote working work for you: Businesses should assume that old ways of working are gone. However, this need not necessarily mean that productivity will take a hit. Majority of the businesses have reported that remote working has been very effective and in fact have seen a rise in productivity during these times. There are a few things businesses can do to make remote working effective:

  • Reimagine your policies and procedures to incorporate best practices on collaboration, flexibility and accountability.

  • Assist the employees in creating and maintaining boundaries – announce office hours, share tips on hour to clock time, set up expectations on responses, etc.

  • React with agility and speed/ Speed up the process of decision making: The crisis has ensured that we speed up the changes needed in structures, strategies, plans and technology. This means we need to:

  • Redesign the traditional organizational structures: This would be linked to the above point. The pandemic has taught us the importance of working in networks vs Silos. The “all hands-on deck” scenario that the pandemic has forced us to collaborate and to decide quickly. This process needs to be institutionalized and a flatter organizational design needs to be designed. Leaders and management teams should move away from a departmental view to one of viewing their company as an ecosystem that functions in tandem.

  • Make data the King: Agility is only possible if companies have enhanced analytical capabilities as it provides the management with information required to answer questions quickly, and even ask the right questions.

  • Reskill and empower team members: All the above changes mean that team members are involved in decision making and are adapting to the changes quickly. This certainly requires higher engagement levels and upskilling.

2. Plan for other crises (that might or might not happen): We know this has been said enough but somehow has not been implemented successfully. Business continuity planning and disaster recoveries should not be a bunch of papers on the shelves of risk managers. Businesses need to understand their value and implement fail safes. Things like shorter and more flexible supply chains, “just-in-case” inventory, next shoring, etc need to be planned and implemented.

3. Stop short-term planning and focus on a long-term future: This pandemic has ensured that we are unable to plan our next move. We cannot envisage what will happen in the next year and hence, are unable to put numbers or plans to it. We think that it’s time that companies realized that chasing quarterly numbers and shareholder value is not the only way we create the future we want. Obviously short-term numbers/ targets are important, but in the past too much focus has been on these and very little has been done to safeguard long-term value. Work with teams to create leaders of the future and re-allocate resources to long-term benefits vs immediate results.

4. Last, but certainly not the least, embrace sustainability: It is no longer a compliance checklist, environmental sustainability is now a core management function. Businesses need to build environmental strategies as much as, say, marketing strategies. They need to view environmental risk as a key risk.

We hope that like most obstacles, this pandemic too teaches us what has been wrong with our mindset. We hope that we not only survive this crisis, but we come out of it wiser, more aware and stronger than we have been before. We at Falak are very hopeful of this, and even in an uncertain future, we will work towards a better one.

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