‘Those who do not learn from history, are doomed to repeat it’. So goes the popular saying. Learning from experience is crucial, both for effective emergency response and to build for the future. The coronavirus pandemic, which, as of press time, has infected over 18 million people worldwide and led to the death of over 650,000 people, is already embedded in the history books as one of the moments that changed life as we knew it. So what are the important lessons from the pandemic?
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Everyone, from governments and companies to individuals, has had to deal with a new reality and with an inevitable negative impact on the economy. COVID-19 has affected many facets of life – from careers and personal interactions to business plans and more. While we continue to lick the wounds caused by this unprecedented pandemic, it is only right that we look closely into how we can prepare ourselves better for such circumstances.
1. Have an alternative source of income
Since a young age, we have always been advised against putting all of our eggs in one basket. Unfortunately, experience has proved to be a cruel teacher to those who lost their jobs due to the pandemic as they were left high and dry. Having an alternative source of income hence is no longer a luxury but a necessity. There is currently a wide range of opportunities to earn extra cash with ease available spanning from investing in businesses/agriculture, selling on marketplaces like Jiji.ng and more.
2. Have an emergency plan or a crisis management handbook
Crisis and uncertainty are two factors that are sure to cloud the judgement of even the very best individuals and managers. COVID-19 has taught us about the need to develop a plan to prevent yourself from being in chaos when crisis strikes. The way to go is to envision several of the most likely disruptions to your business and think about what you will need to do if they occur. Then put action steps into the crisis handbook to guide you through the tough times.
3. Digital access and literacy are now a necessity
Digital access must be seen as a utility, like electricity and water. Digital access is the ability to fully participate in the digital society. This includes access to tools and technologies, such as the Internet and computers, that allow for full participation. A survey by Research ICT Africa disclosed that 70% of non-internet users in Nigeria say affordability is the main reason for not using the internet. For Nigerians with low per capita incomes, the price of a mobile phone can represent a consequential barrier to access and even regular usage of the internet.
Also just as providing books to people who cannot read does not solve functional illiteracy, simply offering access to technology does not bridge the digital divide. Lack of basic digital literacy skill is also a major threat to the wellbeing of people in the 21st century. A lot of lives and businesses could easily have been saved if digital access and literacy were more widespread than they currently are.
4. Innovate or die
The COVID-19 pandemic crisis is new to everyone. The novelty of this situation had caught many businesses unaware and what was supposed to have been a temporary closure of businesses quickly led to a permanent closure, especially for businesses who were unable to innovate. We witnessed top hotels quickly adopt food delivery and dry cleaning services, travel agencies adopt virtual tours, cinema houses quickly launch drive-in cinemas and predominantly brick and mortar stores adopting online platforms to sell their products. Unfortunately, businesses who were unable to move with the times have all been hurt, set back or permanently shut.
5. Importance of work-life balance
The COVID-19 virus also made us realize that there is more to life than pursuing careers and that sustaining a healthy wellbeing/raising a family is equally as important. Everyone has been able to bond with their families, spend less on commuting to work, eat healthier at home and much more, which we have all seen lead to more productivity and even less operating costs.
Twitter led by example by being the first multinational company of note to give staff the opportunity to work from home indefinitely as the ‘work-from-home measures during the lockdown had been a success’. Facebook, Google and a host of both local and international businesses have followed suit in giving their staff the opportunity to work from home till next year with the strong possibility of this being furthered. As such investing in remote working tools and processes is now a key tool for effective business continuity.
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