19 Jun Our 5 takeaways from the COVID19 pandemic
Whether the worst of the COVID19 crisis is behind us or whether we find ourselves in a period of recovery but should still be on high alert for the coming of the second wave, is not a debate that we shall enter, because as building engineers, constantly dealing with the unpredictable conditions of the natural environment, we know that the evolution of a pandemic such as this one depends on many factors.
Like many other businesses and professionals, for us, change is the norm, and part of what makes our jobs both challenging and exciting is that every day brings new problems and new solutions.
Just as it was important to use the slowdown as an opportunity to rethink our strategies and to re-assess our business goals, it is also important to take stock of where we are right now and what lessons can be learnt from the past 3 months, that can help us improve on what we offer to our customers.
Our 5 takeaways today are the top insights that we have had the opportunity to deepen during these difficult times. We think these are thoughts that other people and businesses might benefit from, which is why we have packaged them as tips, for your convenience.
1: Hold on to your money!
There is a powerful scene in the TV show ‘House of Cards’ in which Daniel Lanagin, casino owner, turns down the Vice President Francis Underwood’s offer for influence in the White House, and speaks, instead, on what he likes about money. He says he can stack money on a table, measure it, smell it, feel it, and most importantly, buy things he likes – houses, clothing, anything – with it.
The COVID19 crisis has taught us how important money is, and how crucial it is to have the necessary cash to keep operations going even at a time when the sales are next to none. Avoiding locking ALL your precious cash safeguards your business against failure and allows you the opportunity to invest in infrastructure that can be used for a different purpose when needed.
2: Invest in infrastructure
Which brings us to our next thought.
Apart from the obvious location, the value of a building is related to how it can be used, in other words, its purpose and functionality. It is no wonder therefore that, as building engineers, we advise on the importance of robust building services infrastructure, that brings the building to life and makes it safe, comfortable, and functional for the people in it.
As people have had to move in and out of different buildings at different stages – abandoning offices, closing shops and restaurants, working remotely from homes, returning with restrictions and concerns, wondering whether their ventilation and air-conditioning systems are ‘good’ for the new conditions, whether the new layout effects their fire safety assessment, etc. – we learn just how important the infrastructure and the systems of a building are to support daily operations, and how essential it is to focus on those priorities that make a difference.
3: Focus on priorities
The COVID19 pandemic had people rushing to the supermarkets and isolate themselves and their loved ones in the safety of their homes. Following the initial shocks related to health anxiety, financial troubles and restrictions to mobility, people were increasingly mostly worried about the disruption to their normal social lives.
People matter. As humans, we not only depend on one another, support each other to stay safe; we also care and show a great deal of interest in the well-being of those others with whom we connect.
As a business owner, the COVID19 pandemic has also given you the opportunity to show your people that you care for their well-being. By all means, continue to invest in their skills and development, but now is a good time to also invest in the health and safety of the building they are spending most of their time in. Take care of the health of your employees, especially now that they are coming back to the premises of your business.
4: ‘Health check’ your building
Although humans have a natural affinity for open spaces and environments that are green and abundant in vegetation as a source of food, it is obvious that they value and connect to the buildings that afford them protection from the harsh conditions of nature as well as providing space for them to live and share moments with close ones.
Among the things that COVID19 has reminded us of, surely, the importance of buildings as our ‘safe havens’ must have ranked very highly. Which in turn reminds us of the need to take care of our buildings, whether our residential and personal properties, or commercial and business buildings, with the same attention as we need to devote to our own well-being, since the two are strongly related.
Do not wait for a pandemic or a similar extraordinary crisis to perform a ‘health-check’ of your building. Don’t wait for normal either. Do it now, because it pays.
5: Do not wait for normal
Normal is what happens every day, as we face different challenges, put effort in new opportunities, and work to stay in the middle of what is accepted, avoiding the ‘extremes’. During the restrictions, people either longed for normal, or postponed anything new to when it returns to normal. But this need not always be the case.
People and businesses who do well and succeed with advantage distinguish themselves by their ability to adapt to change, day by day. Looking at the construction and property development industry, for example, the slowdown might have had its effects, but also created opportunities for modernisation (an incentive which is being offered by Government through Malta Enterprise as part of the COVID19 economic recovery package), new investments, different business strategies, and, hopefully, a slow but sure shift to a greener, more sustainable offer. Other sectors, including the HORECA (Hotels, Restaurants and Catering) are also finding new ways to thrive and grow in the new normality by diversifying their products and offering new experiences to their customers.
As always, at Sammut & Associates we keep ourselves well-informed of new developments in technology and engineering excellence so we can support your business as it takes stock of the situation of the economy and the market, derives value from the type of lessons that can be learnt from the COVID19 experience, and move ahead, one step at a time.