Despite the hardships imposed on all South Africans by the president on the advice of the World Health Organisation, there can be no doubt they are for the greater good. We can be thankful our authorities have acted swiftly.

The coronavirus is a serious threat to everyone. Poor living conditions in many informal settlements and the prevalence of tuberculosis and HIV/Aids make it important for those fortunate enough to have jobs to do all they can to slow its spread.

As businesses adjust to the new environment created by these attempts to curb the spread of the virus, new ways of doing business will come to the fore — ways that may survive after the pandemic is over. In that sense, the situation is an ironic opportunity for forward-thinking companies.

Small-to-medium enterprises may react more swiftly than large ones, and younger managers may see opportunities presented by digital technology sooner than those of an older generation. Above all, the behavioural changes demanded of us all for health reasons challenge long-held assumptions about offices, conferences, business travel and face-to-face networking.

Many of the changes we shall see will be cheaper ways of doing things, and for that reason alone should be welcomed by any CEO. Many are already to hand in larger companies, such as video conferencing and conference calls on landline connections, but these are seldom used to their full potential.

Geoff Jacobs

Cape Chamber of Commerce and Industry

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