As the international community struggles to adapt to the new normal brought about by the coronavirus pandemic, there is virtually no area of our personal or professional lives that will be left unchanged. According to Gartner research director Sandy Shen, “With such a dynamic situation like COVID-19, it has the potential to be as disruptive, or more, to an organization’s continuity of operations as a cyber intrusion or natural disaster…This is a wake-up call to organizations that focus on daily operational needs at the expense of investing in digital business and long-term resilience.”

Gartner suggests companies take action today to ensure they emerge from the pandemic as strong as possible. Their recommendations include:

  • Ensure collaboration, security, and network support. Many companies have already instituted remote working policies in response to the coronavirus, but it’s important to ensure that all employees are able to communicate and collaborate as efficiently as if they were physically in the office. This may entail investing in new collaboration tools and also ensuring that enterprise apps such as ERP and CRM systems can be accessed remotely. Gartner also urges organizations not to forget about reviewing security and network support as they make coronavirus-related arrangements.
  • Engage with customers and partners via digital channels. As Shen put it, “The value of digital channels becomes obvious as market demand shrinks and as people rely on more online platforms for daily supplies.” Workplace collaboration, video conferencing, and live streaming solutions can easily replace physical gatherings and enable companies to engage with customers, partners, and other external stakeholders.
  • Establish a single source of truth for employees. According to CIO’s Byron Connolly, “Confusing data from unverified sources—or the sheer lack of data—can lead to ill-informed decisions being made, escalating employee anxiety and making organizations underprepared for returning to normal operations.” To address this, Gartner recommends that companies provide actionable guidance to employees from local governments, healthcare authorities, and institutions such as the World Health Organization (WHO) and consider setting up a site, app, or hotline to frequently communicate updates from these groups.

While it’s far too early to predict the duration and severity of the coronavirus pandemic on the business community, it’s safe to say that work as we know it will change for the foreseeable future. As such, it’s important that companies consider the recommendations outlined above to ensure that business runs as smoothly as possible and that customers, employees, and partners feel supported and connected in an otherwise uncharted time.