Bracing for a new normal

By Michelle Ng

Malaysia and the world sustained two hits – global economic slowdown towards the end of 2019, followed by the Covid-19 spread. This means impact on trade and business, with recent reports showing a hit on human resource too.

An example is the airline industry. Malindo, Air Asia and Malaysian Airlines have made difficult human resource decisions such as pay cuts and having employees take unpaid leave.

Ripple effects are also felt in the mental health sector with call lines seeing an increase in calls due to financial stress.

I believe however, that there is hope. We must brace for a new normal. The effects of Covid-19 will not end when the Movement Control Order is lifted. The country would need to maintain a certain way of life which we have developed during the MCO such as social distancing, sanitisation, frequent disinfecting, not going out unnecessarily, working from home etc. How long would these need to go on for? Perhaps until all affected countries see healthy levels of recovery. Even then, international travel would have to be very closely monitored to prevent Covid-19 from being brought back to any country.

Businesses must pivot fast. Changes must be made to processes where possible. An example is going online. (To this end, many congratulations to SJ Echo for its first e-paper edition!) Work from home schedules need to be in place. Online communication and file management need to be beefed up.

Another example that businesses can look at is developing delivery systems. As people might want to reduce their time out, or avoid visiting shops too frequently, the demand for home deliveries will increase.

On the other hand, employees who have been made to take unpaid leave or whose companies that they used to work with have shut down must consider alternatives – temporary steps must be taken pending full employment. If you were a chef in a hotel for example, consider working from your kitchen and doing home catering instead. If you were a personal trainer and outlets are shutting down or not employing, do online classes.

There are still options out there, and we can regain control. When existing industries shrink, new ones will emerge. There are business opportunities in this new way of life that awaits us. Adapt, and change, and we will survive.

We can do this, Malaysia. We will rise.