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One year after the World Health Organization (WHO) officially declared SARS-CoV-2 a pandemic, the business sector continues to face the great challenges posed by the virus that was first identified in Wuhan, China, a end of 2019.
On the one hand, companies have had to take serious transformation and adaptation measures at a strategic level and in their business models. Some studies indicate that companies with a too vertical structure have made a horizontal conversion at the organizational level, taking as an example the personality of startups and technology companies. It is evident that the risk of not adapting is very high, and it is already reflected: In Colombia, the closure of companies increased by 63% in the first half of last year, according to the Bogotá Chamber of Commerce, and the reality of 2021 ongoing is not promising.
On the other hand, the same business sector, through censuses and surveys, has expressed that there are five main areas in which they are facing difficulties since the beginning of the pandemic:
The immediate effect of the coronavirus crisis has been the devaluation of currencies worldwide, especially in Latin America, which makes the purchase of imported raw materials and supplies more expensive. This generates a feeling of uncertainty in companies, to which is added the lack of liquidity due to delays in customer payments, fixed operating expenses and the payment of taxes.
The decrease in sales resulting from the inactivity of some clients, whether due to cancellation of services, budget cuts or presence in other countries, has put the production line in check. With production on hold, the negative effects in the medium or long term are reflected in precariousness and expiration of inputs.
Health and security
For employers, the health and safety of their employees is a high priority during the pandemic, which is why companies have taken steps to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. These measures have been an investment but also learning in terms of the adaptability and innovation of their businesses.
Supply and sourcing
The production and supply chains of goods, services, materials, among others, have radically changed as a result of the pandemic, so companies have had to adapt to current circumstances. The shortage and increase in cost of raw materials and supplies, the slowdown of production-delivery processes and guaranteeing the hygiene of products continues to be a major challenge.
Regarding human capital, employers have adapted their execution processes with remote and flexible work options for their workers, in addition to training that allows them to learn to have rapid response-adaptation capacity in unconventional or crisis scenarios, such as the one that is lived today worldwide. In general, companies have avoided mass layoffs.
Learning: the strategy to overcome challenges and grow in the future
It is clear then that as a result of the pandemic, the area of opportunity for a large number of companies (especially not digitized or with little innovative production processes) continues to be the implementation of technological resources that allow them to respond to the demands of the crisis current, both at the level of infrastructure and human capital. In this sense, the training of work teams through digital means is a need that companies did not consider essential before the coronavirus, and that has become a priority to increase their capacity for adaptation and resilience.
For this, there are initiatives such as hackU , a Colombian startup that offers companies online education for their workers and collaborators. The service consists of using WhatsApp as a training channel, sending educational microcapsules of a maximum duration of 15 minutes.
Once the user receives the content, they are accompanied by an educational coach. At the end of each study module, the same user can measure the knowledge acquired through a learning assessment.
This confirms that, as a result of the pandemic, the demand for ultra-accelerated response processes has led the business sector to increase its learning capacity to deploy effective solutions that help emerge from the crisis and ensure future growth. In addition, the uncertainty about the real consequences of the pandemic at a social and economic level, continues to push companies to expand their areas of expertise to strengthen internally and also project themselves safely towards what the post-covid scenario may bring.
Without a doubt, the capacities of adaptation, learning, innovation and recovery are emerging as the backbone for the survival of companies during and after the pandemic. Companies that embrace and strengthen these qualities will be able to meet the challenges of economic recovery with greater ease and leadership.