Given the severity and magnitude of its impact across all aspects of life, COVID-19 has become more than an “unprecedented health hazard”. It’s a human tragedy and a global crisis, and it holds crucial lessons for everyone.
“The effects are immediate and the implications are long-term.”
As countries continue to report shifting patterns regarding the spread of the virus, local resurgence, a number of positive cases and the related deaths, much uncertainty lurks still. From “how long till the economy recovers” to “will there be a resurgence of the virus”, questions are many and answers are few. COVID-19 has made it clear that the effects are immediate and the implications are long-term. Nothing is sugar-coated about the moment. It is a bleak scenario and we are all vulnerable and exposed to the challenges of this global pandemic. Yet, it is also in moments of crises that we find our biggest learning, our strengths and our weaknesses.
While world leaders, economic and health organizations and industry doyens continue to assess the future and look for strategic action plans to navigate through the crisis, there are some key lessons that we all can pick up from the current times. Here’s taking a look at what we can learn (or re-learn) about “risks” from the ongoing global pandemic that is COVID-19.
Risk Is an Interdependent Factor
No longer can we focus on ‘risk’ as a singular event, and COVID-19 has shown us exactly this. We live and operate in times where interdependence is at the root of everything that we do, and even seemingly “unimportant” or “unrelated” issues can become a potential threat. At the same time, it can also help us better understand, anticipate, manage and even prevent the likelihood or severity of potential risks in the long run.
Risk Cannot Be Singularly Defined
As per the UNDRR 2019 Global Assessment Report on Disaster Risk Reduction “existing approaches to understanding risk is often based on the largest and most historically obvious and tractable risks for humans, rather than on the full topography of risks.” As such the sections that are the most vulnerable to global disasters, including small businesses, often remain ignorant of important facts like the dynamic, systemic and multidimensional nature of risks. The context of any risk is never completely uniform and as of 2020, it has become inevitable for everyone to take all of these into consideration to be able to design and adopt effective and sustainable interventions to the current crisis.
Risk Can Take Many Forms
The disruption and challenges presented by COVID-19 maybe something new and unprecedented but the threats of cybercrimes are not. While many industries and organizations emphasize on stringent security measures, there are many businesses that are still vulnerable to this form of risk whose wider implications (from heavy financial to reputational risk to even a complete shutdown) over the years have been quite drastic, especially for SMBs.
The multiple impacts of cybercrime are a particularly amplified risk in current times because of the increase in online interactions, operations, and transactions. With COVID-19 related news and information being the prime focus of attention, it is important that in addition to maintaining vigilance over our health we also remain alert to this aspect of risk in our day to day online activities.
Risk Management Is About Speed
Early warning signs are always a crucial lead to ensure risk containment and emergency management. Waiting to witness or understand the full impact of an event is definitely no longer an option when it comes to effectively launching adaptive measures and containing escalations. Additionally, don’t overestimate but also don’t underestimate the implications of any risk factor for your business. What may seem relatively unimportant can, in the long run, become a challenge that you had probably assumed but simply didn’t consider a threat.
Risk Can Present Learning Opportunities Too
It’s only natural to panic in the face of a volatile and unpredictable situation like COVID-19, yet we cannot deny that there is simply no running away. So, while there is nothing wrong in aiming for perfection and steady growth as part of your eventual business goals it is equally important that there is no compromise in the implementation of measures like building a financial resource reserve, prioritizing the most necessary investments, developing a crisis management team/plan and having adequate access to information, observations and including any factor that may seem relatively unimportant for your business (at a particular point of time).
Everyone bears the brunt of risks at some point but how much we choose to learn from them is something that varies at an individual and at a collective level.
The human tragedy and global crisis presented by the novel Coronavirus COVID-19 has strongly shaken our beliefs and habits. This is a wakeup call and no longer can we afford to simply consider individual growth or materialistic growth while ignoring the many warnings that have been constantly coming our way in the form of natural disasters, climate change, health hazards like Ebola, SARS, MARS (and now COVID-19) and the subsequent shift in economic growth and decision making.
The global economy will recover from this recession. Even if it’s a sluggish one, the resurgence will happen, and with many countries already implementing measures to help small businesses regain their functionality, the focus is on making necessary transformations to not just reboot the national and global economy but also to act more towards sustainability and equitable access to resources and information.