by Brenda

It is no news that the coronavirus pandemic could be around for a long time. Indeed, a top World Health Organization (WHO) official has warned that the new coronavirus may never go away and populations will have to learn to live with it just as they have HIV.

While some organisations have reinvented themselves and come up with new ways to meet up with the changing market, making use of resources and technology, others have downsized their workforce in response to the changed market circumstances with hopes that the pandemic will end sooner or later. The debate over whether machines can replace man continues.

With the 20th century being the century of productivity, and the 21st century of quality, there was the need to shift from mere production to quality production. The emergence of global markets also necessitated this shift. So widespread did globalisation become, that today one can sit in the comfort of one’s home and enjoy Coca Cola from America.

The new normal is virtual organisations. It is the business organisation of the future. It originated from the expression “virtual reality”, an experience in which electronically created sounds and images are made to resemble reality. Thus, an organisation which makes use of electronic means to run its operations, with little to no employees, is a virtual organisation.

The virtual organisation depends mostly on a network of part-time electronically connected free-lances, also referred to as e-lances. Here, the firm’s operations are performed by different personnel who are not full-time employees. From production to distribution, the firm relies on only its mobile structures. Hollywood is more often cited as a template of a virtual organisation, where actors, directors, and producers come together for a common purpose: to make a movie, and go their separate ways after.

As the global death toll of the coronavirus pandemic continues to rise, more companies are embracing the idea of becoming virtual. It will take time. It all depends on a company’s ability to leverage on this means to effectively incorporate it into their business. It all needs to be strategic and can be implemented anywhere in the world.

Running a business along virtual lines is possible because African markets have access to products from Western multinational companies. This means there can be uniformity in the quality of products. Again, there is convenient access to internet services and telecommunication. Moreover, the growing preference for both Western and locally manufactured consumer goods and technologies will be favourable across the divide. This means a virtual organisation in America can benefit as much as the company in Ghana.

Virtual organisations will need to ensure quality and uniform standards across global markets, as is done by Gilette and Heineken. They can also tailor their products to suit the local African markets, like Coca Cola and Japanese carmakers Toyota do. Though the taste or make is never quite the same from one country to the next, the bottom line is that quality must not be compromised.

It is a given that machines cannot entirely replace man. We must, however, embrace the idea of leveraging modern technology to get things done in traditional office-based companies and virtual companies, if we are to maximize productivity in this challenging time.

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