More than Corona – Facing the Risks of Globalization

Carly Kroll & Friederike Truthe, March 13, 2020

The current global landscape of organizations has made companies stronger by reaching customers worldwide. With the ability to have branches of an organization across the globe, companies can build their business, support local economies, and enhance their global brand.

Despite there being many benefits to having a global company there are some challenges that occur, when the workforce is limited or restricted from travel or co-working. Circumstances like the current Corona pandemic, political instability within a country, natural disasters, and transportation strikes, can create obstacles for your staff to overcome in terms of working cohesively and successfully.

Pandemics

As a global economy goods and people cross borders and move to urban areas often. With the opportunities of sharing culture, knowledge and merchandise comes the risk of pandemics. History has shown that pandemics come around and have a major effect on communities and the economy. In this modern globalized setting, we find ourselves more vulnerable, despite having significant scientific advances. When a pandemic begins countries, businesses and individuals take measures to help minimize the spread and protect themselves. The World Health Organization advises, closing borders, active quarantines, cancelling large events, and asking workers to stay home depending on the severity and spread of the pandemic. The primary focus of safety is reducing or limiting contact with others causing a disruption in the workforce and flow of daily work.

Politics

Travel bans often occur due to war, or government threats, or high concerns of particular citizens are put in effect, it can cut off an entire country to a group of your work force, not allowing them to visit. Changes in leadership in countries may also come with the caveat of new laws and visa restrictions for travel, causing delays or hurdles for staff to work through in order to travel. According to the New York Times, a recent example is the travel bans to the United states, which have significantly increased the amount of countries restricted from entering or getting a visa.

Natural Disaster

The weather is an unpredictable aspect of traveling and can cause many issues from snowstorms to high winds. But natural disasters are also a factor that affects the global workforce, companies may get stuck, or be limited from travel due to hurricanes, wildfires and earthquakes. Business Insider shared in a recent 2019 article that, “Each year, cold winter weather leads to 60,000 flight cancellations in the United States, costing airlines and airports an estimated $3 billion.” Company plans are often thwarted when such events occur, restricting staff from flights, conferences, or meetings.

Transportation

Transportation may be another great feat of our global world, but we often find ourselves stuck when airlines, trains or buses go on strike, or are grounded due to weather. This can put a wrench in the plans of companies hoping to travel to one of their other locations, sites, or customers. In Europe, Lufthansa’s strike in 2019 cancelled “1,300 flights in a 48-hour strike,” according to the BBC. These immense numbers can affect companies around the globe hoping to travel for business.

Facing Corona, we’ve talked to our CEO Hendrik Witt about how companies can get best prepared for this kind of global crisis. Read his estimations below:

Which risks do you see for companies when facing those globalization threats?

First and foremost, that they can no longer provide the services to their customers due to external circumstances. Especially in manufacturing, maintenance and logistics, workers lack tools that allow them to obtain real-time information with a team member while keeping their hands free for their work.

How can companies prepare for those kinds of risks in general?

Think digital! This might be the best advice for companies to face those threats I can give. In times of endangered mobility, digital processes become highly relevant, especially in blue collar jobs where the human input is still crucial. So, you have to ask yourself if your frontline workforce is best equipped to withstand the crisis. Here comes augmented reality into play. We see wearable technology like smart glasses as a bridging technology that connects humans through digitalization.

What are the benefits of remote support solutions in times of risk like pandemics?

The biggest advantage of using remote support solutions is digitally securing knowledge transfer. Solutions such as Ubimax’s xAssist give workers in the field access to information to solve problems on their own even if they were not trained for a job in the first place. This enables companies to react flexibly to the crisis. Using smart glasses, field workers at site can be guided through working processes by remote experts that are averted to be there in person. Traveling can therefore be avoided. Taking the Corona pandemic as a use case, a remote support call can limit the spread of a disease by minimizing the group of people who could potentially be infected.

What would you suggest for choosing the right remote support solution?

In my opinion it is crucial to choose a solution that allows for a more integral approach. If possible, use a platform solution that helps you in various areas of your business and not just for the time of a crisis. This is why we believe Ubimax Frontline to be such a valuable asset. Not only do users have access to instant remote video calls, but also can be guided digitally, following predefined workflows and can access information anytime and anywhere. Which brings me back to the first remark that a coherent digital approach within your company is crucial to avoid downtimes or risks for your workforce in times of crisis.

 

References:

Anderson, David and Wilkin, Rebecca. (2019). Why cold winter weather cancels roughly 60,000 flights a year in the US. Business Insider. Retrieved from https://www.businessinsider.com/flight-cancellation-cold-weather-storm-blizzard-closing-airports-2019-2

BBC. (2019). Luthansa scraps 1,300 flights in 48-hour strike. BBC. Retrieved from https://www.bbc.com/news/business-50329889

Fan, Victoria Y., Jamison, Dean T., and Summers, Lawrence H. (2017). WHO World Health Organization. Policy and Practice – Pandemic risk: how large are the expected loses? Retrieved from https://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/96/2/17-199588/en/

Kanno-Youngs, Zolan. (2020). Trump Administration Adds Six Countries to Travel Ban. NY Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/us/politics/trump-travel-ban.html