Reset reboot
BUSINESS MATTERS BEYOND THE BOTTOM LINE - Francis J. Kong (The Philippine Star) - April 4, 2020 - 12:00am

When things go back to normal, things will no longer be normal. The whole world has entered into a reset or a reboot. Imagine a virus so small that the naked eye cannot see has become so powerful even as to render the most powerful men and women in the world helpless and fearful? So what does the coronavirus mean for business? No one can tell for sure but these things are happening…

While there are work stoppage and commerce is at a virtual standstill, rent, power and other fixed costs continue, and liquidity is of a vital point of consideration. The age-old battle and debate about whether employees should be allowed to work from home are now moot and academic. Businesses are adjusting their forecasts downward and coming up with contingency plans to continue operating. Freeze hiring in many industries. Others are eliminating overtime to conserve cash as business earnings go south. And businesses need to open credit lines to ensure that enough cash is there to finance their operations.

Clients have canceled conferences and seminars; others have postponed indefinitely. Many express their preference to bring me to their company H.O. when things settle, but this time to address smaller batches of people. Curiously, I am also having inquiries from companies abroad who would prefer to fly me into their offices and do training there than to have their people travel overseas. I do not have immediate plans for traveling abroad, as it will only complicate things.

Remote workers or those working from home have to try their best to be productive and to continually remind themselves that working from home means they stay home and work. It is not a vacation. Employees with lesser flexible situations and cannot work remotely have to stay healthy at work, and employers will have to give more health protection.

If the quarantine continues, many employers have requested their employees to convert their vacation leaves to this time of forced hibernation. Netflix’s viewership has skyrocketed! There is this number one viewed Korean drama series in the Philippines wherein a South Korean businesswoman paragliding and crash landed into North Korea was so famous, but is no longer in the top 10 list. Most people have finished binge watching the series. The virus disruption has caused producers to reduce output, shipping to distributors has been interrupted, and consumers limit their spending.

So many challenges? Yes. But on the other hand, being the eternal optimist that I am, I now have enough sleep. I am catching up with book reading, writing more articles, preparing to do a new book. I enjoy my grandson, whom I call “The Chairman,” with my kids staying with me in our old ancestral home. We clean the house, cook together, and monitor the news. There seems to be a little upside to all these things that are happening.

One pastor from China observed: “The wild animals that were once held by humans in cages finally managed to keep humans in cages.” Our technological wizardry, space exploration, and superior intellectual pronouncements on how we will shape the future become futile and even comedic. Perhaps this is a wake-up call for us to realize that we are not all that great as we thought we are and that there are things beyond our control. This pastor from China, in his article titled “Quiet China” (source cannot be verified, and I have paraphrased some of the lines) continues to observe:

“There are fewer people on the street, few cars on the road. The air is getting fresher; haze is gone, sky getting bluer, the sun getting brighter. Families are getting warmer, harmonious, and cordial. Parents who had no communication with their children, couples who couldn’t speak a few words a year, have opened up the conversation box. Children who did not know how to respect the elderly have also begun to be filial.”

And he ended the article with the line that says: “The virus reminded us there is an Almighty.”

It is not my design to downplay the gravity of the situation. My heart goes out to those who have suffered. I don’t know what will happen, but this reminds me of an old saying I learned a long time ago. “We may not know what the future holds, but we certainly know Who holds the future.” So just like the many crises that I have gone through in my many years of existence. I wil trust in Him and keep my eyes open and learn the lesson of living a meaningful life way beyond just making money. And the bottom line, I think you should too.

(Connect with Francis Kong in www.facebook.com/franciskong2. Or listen to “Business Matters” Monday to Friday 8:00 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. over 98.7 DZFE-FM ‘The Master’s Touch’, the classical music station.)

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