Adapt to change, Adopt new-age tech, Adhere to the game: Essentials during COVID-19

Living through COVID 19 has cast a gloomy spell around the world. Ruder Finn India’s Managing Director Atul Sharma believes it’s imperative to keep searching for the silver lining.


The past few weeks have been tough for everyone across the world, they’ve shown us what a great equaliser fear can be. The pandemic has affected the physical and mental health of millions. More than 50 per cent of the planet is holed up in their homes, enthusiasm is low and waking up to fake and distorted news only seeds more negativity. In all of this, the only thing that we can change is our outlook.

To start with, we could think and stay optimistic. And since we are thinking positive, I started thinking about the good that could come out of this seemingly hopeless situation. But I did realise that this is yet another point of inflection in our lives, although this time around it is going to change a lot of things, possibly forever. While we’re making the journey, here are a few things that could help us bridge the gap seamlessly. I call it Truth, - Trust, Reflect, Upskill, Thank and Heal.

TRUST: Inculcate flexibility into our work culture

If there is one lesson that corporates have learnt during trying times such as these, is to trust their workforce. This includes openness and flexibility to let people work remotely; if not once a week then at least once a month- a start is always better than not moving at all. From India Inc. to most Government officials, the time is ripe to re-examine our work from home policies. This will not only ensure that we are prepared for future crises but will also make us more conscious of finite resources- both natural and man-made.

REFLECT- Cement the importance of basics

Considering we’re yet to witness the true scale of this pandemic and I pray to god that we don’t, I foresee Indians curtailing their spending to focus on essentials for the rest of 2020. This means home-cooked food will be valued, people will demand not only high-quality food but also take into consideration the sanitation levels of restaurant where food is prepared. This is also an opportunity for India to inherit some basic food quality standards that are practised in developed economies. The introduction of stricter check and balances by the health authorities may be a positive beginning to avoid spreading of such diseases. This may lead to a downward trend initially for food take ways and deliveries, but the F&B industry will benefit from it in the long run.

UPSKILL: Multi-tasking our way into the future

As the workforce learns to juggle work and home, we will witness a surge in productivity starting with leveraging all forms of technology to the fullest. As I write, a recent news report declared Zoom as the most downloaded free app during global lockdowns. The New York Times quoted, “Zoom’s stock touched $110 during trading Monday, Feb. 24, 2020, a level it’s reached just once since its shares began trading last spring. The company has said it’s seeing more business for people wanting to meet online.” Arming ourselves to cope with future lockdowns, platforms like Zoom, Skype, WhatsApp, Facetime will become the new normal to execute business calls, even pitches and reviews. Once professionals get used to these new tools and the idea of wrapping work remotely, it will prove to be cost-effective as unnecessary travel gets curtailed, also bringing down our collective carbon.

THANK: Be grateful, value empathy and give back

Once we’ve emerged victorious in the fight against Covid-19, I hope it will also make us more empathetic and sensitive towards everyone- those who toil to keep our homes clean, our hospitals running, for the daily wagers who’ve had to walk hundreds of kilometres to get back home. For the doctors, nurses and all the essential services staff who are out there, doing their jobs to fight the pandemic, so that we get back to a safe environment.

HEAL: Building the healthcare & fitness infrastructure

For a country that enjoys the advantage of both public and private healthcare coupled with our mammoth PDS infrastructure, this crisis poses as an opportunity to strengthen our existing healthcare infrastructure. Just like we’ve seen the public and private sector join hands for Covid-19 testing, creation of contingency healthcare systems will keep us prepared for the future. Healthcare will—as it should—become a priority and Prime Minister Narender Modi’s Swachh Bharat Abhiyan will get an added boost, reinforcing the importance of personal and community hygiene. I sincerely hope that this will unleash a rejuvenated wave of fitness as Indians get time to reflect, also care about their personal health as well as of their families.

Above all, I hope this time will remind all of us that we are mere mortals, and there are larger forces at work, which are beyond our control. I hope this time will help us value what we have more intently, right from our spouses, kids, to our parents, pets and above all, all the people who support us in day to day lives.

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