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Opinion

Covid-19: How the crisis can help companies successfully reorient human interactions – analysis

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The main victim of the coronavirus pandemic is trust. A complete cessation of any degree of certainty in socio-economic activity in the medium and long term is causing profound restarts across the business landscape. At the heart of this crisis is “social distancing,” and everything else is secondary. As a consequence, human interactions are undergoing change, and with it, interpersonal activities are being reshaped. Whether it’s politics, governance, legal submissions, education and learning, or network-based business and relationship building, everything is irrevocably changing.

It is in this context that modern industries and commercial and manufacturing activities need innovative solutions and radical prospects to not only resist the virus storm, but also stay strong in the recovery and growth phase.

Since the Covid-19 outbreak has imposed a new normal on us, it is important for companies to find their own new normal as well. Here, the direct selling industry, being so inextricably based on human networks, has to reinvent itself around this new imperative. There are three general mindset change directions that can help organizations maintain business continuity during and after these difficult times.

First, technology must be fully and creatively harnessed. While digital and virtually addressable tools and solutions abound, they lack the mindset to allow them to overwhelm human interaction. The mindset shift here relates to widespread adoption and broadening outreach. For example, virtual seminars, e-trainings, and online dealer meetings that may involve as many as 200-300 attendees could become the future order.

To overcome the limitations of social distancing, tools such as those available for routine meetings should be fully utilized. This can also lead to the introduction of more sophisticated technologies that enable close to life interactions. In fact, an additional advantage of such adoptions at work would be reduced transportation needs in an already overcrowded world. It would be a great move to reduce carbon footprints and clean the polluted air in our cities. The reduction of air pollution in metropolitan cities during closure already echoes this potential gain.

Second, a nuanced adoption of what is called the “proximity quotient” can make a difference in our habits of interactivity. Expect people to apply to stay within a safe “work distance” in industries ranging from manufacturing to services and information technology.

Finally, a decisive change for industries must be the adoption of better efficiency standards. It would be helpful to enter the discussion, speak clearly, and come out with a quick and helpful conclusion. Efficiency will increase, as will the bottom line.

We have learned to deal with a world of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA). This is what has placed the Indian leadership at the top of global companies like Google, Pepsi and Microsoft. Indian business leaders possess the resilience and adaptability to deal with a world full of unknown variables. As they change unconditionally, Indian entrepreneurs are smarter than most to deal with uncertainty and challenges. The great diversity of the Indian market is a powerful teacher. Therefore, in the direct selling business, where each member is truly an independent owner and an entrepreneur in one, we can see this rapid adaptability to new realities.

Extraordinary circumstances require extraordinary measures. It is often a crisis that brings out the best in us. The coronavirus crisis has reminded humanity that no amount of planning, forecasting, and analysis is foolproof.

Gautam Bali is CEO of Vestige Marketing Ltd, a leading direct selling company dedicated to health and wellness products.

The opinions expressed are personal.

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