EY South Africa leader on Covid-19's transformational power

14 April 2020 Consultancy.co.za 2 min. read
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The Covid-19 crisis will change the business environment for good, according to Partner & Growth Markets Leader at EY South Africa Azim Omar. He suggests that entrepreneurs begin to anticipate conditions in the post Covid-19 world and begin adapting already.

Omar’s comments come at a time when several experts are advising businesses on how to survive in current conditions. Loss of revenue and business is one thing, but businesses are also contending with significant portions of their workforce operating from home under lockdown conditions, and a host of other unprecedented changes in operation.

According to Omar, these changes have put things in perspective. Many have been negatively affected by the new conditions, but many are also realising that it is possible to function under such conditions, with the staff at home and a reevaluation of productivity standards.

Omar predicts that this realisation will have repercussions that go beyond the Covid-19 crisis. “In the post-Corona world, we are likely to see a great shift to more outcomes-based work. People will care far less whether you are at work for 12 hours a day, wear a suit and tie or have 10 meetings a day. They will focus on results and sound productivity mainly as the foundation of good results beyond this difficult phase,” explains Omar.

Azim Omar - EY Africa Growth Markets Leader

Entrepreneurs would do good to build their business on these priorities from the start, as they are likely to be fundamental in the future. The new way of business is remarkably more cost-effective, where businesses can cut down on office overheads and commute times while maintaining productivity.

For smaller businesses that are often strapped for cash, this is an ideal scenario. A crucial component of this scenario, meanwhile, is technology. Platforms such as Zoom and Microsoft Teams that facilitate virtual collaboration have been absolutely critical under work from home conditions.

Smaller businesses that were previously weary of tech costs can now use the cash freed up from other places to build a solid tech foundation. “If you can use the cloud, or software or an app on your phone to manage your stock or even your time, then use it. It will certainly help make your business more resilient and better prepared for any continuity challenges.”

So a focus on productivity and an even greater reliance on tech are Omar’s predictions for the future business landscape, which he expects to be dramatically different from the pre-Covid-19 one. “The entrepreneur and business owner must realise that they simply must to do things differently now because the world has changed for good. It’s important to acknowledge there is no going back and that businesses now simply have to change their approach for what’s coming next,” he said.