COVID-19 has devasted lives all over the globe. The speed at which the virus invaded countries, homes, and obliterated lives are unbelievable. Stay at home orders enforced in most countries had a devastating effect on the economies of these countries. In Dominica, some businesses had to be creative to continue to serve the public and remain afloat. The words “there will be a new normal post-COVID-19 until a vaccine is found” has become cliché and a much unwelcome thought, but does it have to be an unwelcome thought?
Most private sector companies and government offices were required to work from home. Non-essential Government employees from other line ministries, Government authorities like Discover Dominica Authority (DDA), Dominica Export Import Agency (DEXIA) and Invest Dominica Authority (IDA) and companies which could provide services remotely were among those which operated at home for several weeks. Many employees are still operating from their home offices as it is unsafe to use public transportation or for several staff members to be within the same office space. This has progressed to several meetings, business engagements and even site visits being done virtually. Technology which was not used at all by some businesses became the daily medium for business operations. Looking ahead, it would be impossible not to utilize, zoom, skype, and go to meeting apps to continue conducting business for the average company.
Physical and social distancing are methods prescribed to stem the spread of the virus and the idea of having to stand six (6) feet away from another person caused much inconvenience and delays at shops, supermarkets, and utility companies. It also allowed citizens to enjoy a level of privacy to conduct business at last. No longer was the next customer privy to your transactions at teller stations at the various business places, and if consciousness of the respect for personal space and privacy to conduct business continues post COVID-19, it would have been worth it.
To stay afloat, those who were more technologically inclined and were ready to adapt to local ordering and delivery began to enjoy the convenience that some in more developed countries do. The opportunity to call or text orders using WhatsApp as well as online ordering was created. No longer did one have to stand in long lines outside stores to purchase a few items. This relieved the stress of many, and time once wasted in lines could now be used for other things. Whether this continues on a full-time basis is left to be seen, but many companies benefited from increased business due to these additional avenues to transact business.
Finally, a few small businesses realized that they had to be innovative to survive. Delivery service outfits which usually focused on getting pizza and fast foods to the public saw an opportunity for expansion of their businesses. Delivery services expanded to those who wished to be able to obtain items other than meals or services without leaving their homes. In addition, a few in the sewing industry began to sew much-needed masks and sell them to the public. COVID-19 forced many who had not thought it was always possible, due to the nature of some business, to make their businesses relevant. These strategies, which show the ability to diversify or adjust to the crisis has worked for a few and might become the springboard that will take them to another level as far as being able to roll with the punches when adversity strikes.
There will be a new normal after COVID-19; but whether it be positive or negative is left to be seen.
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