Firms adjust working patterns on virus fears

22 Mar, 2020 - 00:03 0 Views
Firms adjust working patterns on virus fears

The Sunday Mail

Business Reporter

As the deadly coronavirus continues to take its toll on global trade by each passing day, local business leaders are grappling with how to deal with a myriad of problems stemming from the pandemic.

Stocks have slumped, supply chains are almost coming to a halt as employers push to keep their employees healthy to guarantee the continuity of business operations.

Last week, President Emmerson Mnangagwa declared a state of national disaster, which prevents public gatherings of more than 100 people for the next 60 days.

People have also been discouraged from travelling to high-risk countries.

Centres of international capital in the United States of America, some parts of Asia and Europe have similarly issued travel bans, which has had a crippling impact on the aviation industry.

On Friday, South Africa Airways (SAA) said “it will be suspending all international flights immediately”.

Local businesses have also begun to adjust accordingly as they try to adjust to a new environment.

Teleconferencing is increasingly replacing physical meetings, while some employees have been instructed to work remotely (working from home).

Institute of Directors Zimbabwe chairperson Mr Mike Juru believes that the emergence of Covid-19 (the clinical symptoms of coronavirus) will redefine future of organisations.

Businesses, he says, have to forward plan and come up with contingency plans to deal with future threats.

“Coronavirus is recreating the way of doing things in the economy and redefining business conduct.

“We have some companies with shareholders that travel up and down between Zimbabwe and Europe, America and even Asia, I guarantee you that they have not stopped business meetings because of the instituted lockdowns,” said Mr Juru.

The current challenges makes the case for increased adopted of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where both the public and private sector can leverage on technologies to make business and commerce efficient.

“In terms of education, do people really need conventional classes in the future to be taught? No, people will have respect for online training, online courses have to be introduced in institutions to ensure continuity of classes.

“As of trade, e-commerce is rapidly developing, it is not going to be about shops but warehousing and investing in scooters and drones for distribution of stocks, while real estate has to rethink and make it compulsory for future plans to have working space at home,” he added.

With a global death toll of over 7 800 (as of Friday), the pandemic has brought major cities across the world to a standstill, sending stocks plunging and businesses facing huge losses.

Old Mutual Zimbabwe chief executive Mr Samuel Matsekete on Thursday issued a statement indicating that they have “limited traffic from suppliers and other third parties to reduce direct interaction, and meetings are now done through video conference or telephone facilities.”

One of the largest internet providers in the country, Liquid Telecom, has also indicated that it will ensure that “customers have access to network and digital solutions — now and in the weeks and months to come.”

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