The age of COVID-19: Beating the uncertainty & staying prepared

April 5, 2021 at 6:30 PM
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How do you prepare for the post-pandemic era?

The COVID-19 pandemic wreaked serious havoc on all of us in 2020. The lasting effects of the pandemic continue into 2021, causing devastating personal loss, financial woes, and mental health problems[1], among others. As far as black swan events go, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the worst we have seen in recent life. And interestingly, the full extent of damage stemming from its ripple effect is yet to be seen.

All in all, 2020 remains a year to remember – perhaps for all the wrong reasons. But the learnings from the COVID-19 pandemic, nevertheless, are deep and profound[2].

The looming uncertainty

The real impact of COVID-19 lies not in the scale of the infection is caused, but in how deep it ran. One of the immediate impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic is our collective realization of how fragile our economic and social frameworks were.

· Socioeconomic impact: For many of us – including entire economies – the pandemic was an awakening-of-sorts, understanding that we were not as independent or immune to natural calamities, as we thought we were. With multi-billion-dollar industries like travel, tourism and entertainment affected[3], globally, treasuries were running dry. The widespread losses in business and jobs meant banks lost out on repayments, while global capital markets turned volatile[4]. Countries are still struggling to maintain their fiscal deficit at sane levels[5].

· On the business front: While we have been hearing about the wonders of digital transformation for a while now, the pandemic revealed how most businesses were startlingly behind the times when it came to digital adoption and ensuring the continuity of customer experience. For companies that had successfully onboarded technology into all aspects of operations, the investment more than paid off. Others struggled as newer and sleeker business models began to challenge conventions. With even big enterprises reeling from the blow, smaller, mostly family-owned businesses, like restaurants and pubs, were easily run into the ground.

· Impact on people: At the end of the day, the COVID-19 pandemic is about the people. It cut us off from what matters most to our mental and physical well-being – our social fabric. Social distancing affected people in many ways, with too much or too little space becoming an issue too often. Under the circumstances, technology remained a lifeline, helping us keep our heads above water. Through social networks and collaborative forums, technology kept us connected to the real world, offering help and assistance to those who needed it most.

Preparing for the post-COVID-19 era

Luckily, it wasn’t all bad news. The pandemic taught us a thing or two about the adaptability and resilience of the human race. Even when it seemed impossible, most of us managed to hang on by a thread. We found new – albeit extremely demanding – ways to adapt to the new world order, stay communicative, and cater to the need to work and provide for our families, even in the midst of a raging pandemic.

But now is not the time to be complacent.

Whether it’s for your business or for your family, the go-to strategy for the new normal is as quintessential as the scout’s motto: be prepared.

With the WHO warning us of a potential “Disease X”[6], perhaps in the not-too-distant future, it is but wise to brace for impact. In addition, some studies forewarn us how not all countries will be able to bounce back to stability easily enough, and how the cracks in their economy may breed an ecosystem of instability.[7] This is why a lot of countries today are re-assessing their contingency plans while collaborating globally to strengthen their detection and rapid response strategies.

As countries work together to build more dynamic strategies for pandemic readiness, there’s a lot of individuals and businesses can do to ensure preparedness. For businesses, this means becoming stronger in three primary areas: customer experience, digitalization, and continuity planning.[8] The role of digital transformation in keeping businesses afloat and sustainable in the long-run has become increasingly apparent since 2020.

Similarly, as individuals, there’s a lot we can do to strengthen ourselves from within. While for most of us the year has been crippling on many fronts, some of us have come out of this nightmare unscathed, and yet a few in shining colors. Proven techniques to improve positivity and mental well-being, when combined with medically recommended practices, like adequate social distancing, masking up, and sanitizing often can make a world of difference from individual health and wellness perspectives. These good practices in turn can help us stay prepared and resilient, should we run into rough weather in 2021.

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