Another UTurn of COVID-19

Finally, Singapore cave in to reality checks of COVID-19 when measures are tightened again with work from home as default. This is largely due to the confusion on how the entire population should view this as an endemic. These messages create a false sense of security as some organisations are quick to resume work in office. Subsequently, these activities created clusters at workplaces as the rising cases strain on the medical resource. How should this be improved as we want to adopt an endemic approach?

Guidelines must be Clear on the Risk and Consequences

The typical decision markers in some organisations are quick to follow guidelines blindly. These are traditional views where some organisations or public trusted the guidelines without proper self evaluation of their risk managment and staffs profiles. There are risks when staffs have family with small kids. Of course, it is unfair to blame this on the guidelines. After, guidelines are not rules but to be taken with correct understanding of risks appetite. By now, we seen that these guidelines should highlight the risks and consequences that organisations must undertake if they choose to follow it to the tee.

COVID cannot be treated like Flu

By now, we know that COVID-19 cannot be treated like a common flu. It is a new set of policies, guidelines, risk management or even communication to be educated with the general public. After all, we are still learning how to manage Covid-19 like an endemic. These hard lessons should reflected and not to be treated lightly (pun intended)! It is recommended that organisations must setup these new set of guidelines if they want to adopt an endemic view to Covid-19.

The past few weeks of trying COVID-19 as an endemic is creating a state of confusion. This is largely due to the need of new management approach on how to consider Covid-19 as an endemic. It is obvious that a clear articulated communication plan must be thought out for the “blindsided”. In the meantime, it is better for majority to be conservative as safety comes first for kids and high risks groups.

COVID-19 is not Flu

Singapore approach to treat COVID-19 as an endemic like flu is still plagued with confusion and risks. The general public grappled with this thoughts as Singapore cases continue to rise steadily. The latest measure is HBL (Home Based Learning) for Primary 1 to Primary 5 from 27 Sep to 6 Oct 2021. This shows the risks that existed if we want to consider COVID-19 as flu or endemic. Is the public ready to view Covid-19 as endemic?

No more Qurantine

As long quarantines exist, it is difficult to imagine an endemic environment. As Singapore reach above a high rate of vaccination, we will have to accept the high rate of transmission as a norm. Very soon, there should not be a need for quarantine. This is because quarantine provides a contradiction to endemic approach. Instead, it is a matter of time where vaccinations will be mandatory. These view will be spur when vaccination are approved for kids below 12.

A Future by Vaccination

The return to endemic will lead us to view COVID-19 differently from other endemic illness like flu. For once, vaccination becomes a condition to many places or even jobs. If you have COVID-19, you can also be at home recovery if vaccinated under Home Recovery scheme. It may even be possible that vaccinated will not require quarantine in future.

COVID-19 is a perfect case study for future on how to transition a pandemic to endemic. In this transition, vaccination becomes a condition and nearly mandatory. It is interesting to see how things continue to unfold in Singapore as we move to a endemic Covid-19.

Do Not Socialise

COVID-19 is a new major experience for all. A confused message is underway to limit socialising to once a day and cease workplace interactions from 8 Sep. My hope towards mask free endemic has become a far far thought. I will expect this to materialise by 2022 with regular booster vaccine. Meanwhile, we are literally converting from wfh (work from home) to work alone at workplace.

Work in Office is Socialising

A key aspect of working in office is socialising. Of course, these are exceptions for essential workers. Gatherings, coffee breaks and pantries are ways of informal exchange of information. These are often not replaceable by group chat because many of these encounters are as ad hoc in nature. Restricting these exchanges will defeat the purpose of working in office. Literally, it is telling you to be physically in office but socially removed.

Bring your Own Risk

The messages conveyed are confusing to organisation and individuals. If there is no further lockdowns, why are Quarantine Orders (QO) or LOA (Leave of Absence) still being issued? This means risk are in your own hands. Yes, you can go out or work in office. If there is QO or LOA, it is yours to bear. This means that teams should determine the importance level of working in office or risk exposure by blind compliance.

The endemic is shaping the risk and mindset for many of us. This is why guidelines are set instead of rules. We must be allowed to determine our own risk appetite towards COVID-19 at our discretion.

Mask Free Endemic?

The reality to endemic seems confusing these days in Singapore. After all, trade and borders opening is the priority for the economy. Endemic mindset remains fuzzy as COVID-19 variants persisted. Many questions the rationale of what endemic means. Will we be mask free? Are we going to penalise and segregate vaccinated and non vaccinated?

What is Endemic?

Flu and cold are known illnesses that we taken for granted in a society we called endemic. Will we treat COVID-19 like a common cold? Or will we treated common cold illnesses like COVID-19 in future? When we murked our ways through the endemic or “new normal”, who should get their feet muddy first.

Time to be Clear

This is a time to be firm and decide to be endemic or “new normal”. There will have to a clear line between what will be a rule or guideline. If there is benefit of doubt, it means risk at your own discretion. Will we be penalise for being cautious? For each relaxation, clusters will be normal. An endemic will not consider these clusters as critical. How should we react if these are reported?

The long drawn war with COVID-19 is taking a deep toll with economy and trade. Perhaps this is a time to send a message that we will only need to wear masks if we felt sick. After all, this is how endemic society should be.

Is Endemic COVID-19 here?

Singapore plans for COVID-19 endemic seems to be on a balancing act because many have yet to envision how this will be. It will take a few weeks of observations before anyone will know what to do with endemic mindset. Some organisations are quick to restore working in office once the restrictions are relaxed. As usual, the interpretation are subjective as many have learnt to work from home.

Blind Men and Elephant

If your teams are able to function with wfh, there is really no rush to go back to office. This needs are for those who require the office space and equipment. These are the people who have moved their equipments home to enable wfh. If you are to ease into an alternate week arrangement, you will end up being counter productive! Do not be the blind men feeling an elephant. You must have clear view of what you wanted to achieve being in the office.

Endemic Guidelines

A clear indication of endemic COVID-19 is the need to wear mask continuously. Guidelines must be clear and should be reviewed by your team needs. If the guidelines are unclear, adopt a conservative approach for safety. This is true for family with kids less than 12 years old because they are not able to be vaccinated. Another scenarios will be restrictions for high risk people like elderly.

Moving to endemic COVID-19 will take time. Organisation must not be like blind men and the elephant in the haste to resume working in office. Do take a conservative approach for individual needs if you can still wfh. After all, safety first!

Self Service with Chatbot

Self service technologies are getting popular with COVID-19 pandemic. This is due to a demand on contactless services. Imagine calling customer service and being put on hold for a long time “Customer service is busy…”. This brings a lot of dissatisfaction to customers. This is why many business are moving towards a self service approach using Chatbot.

How to Self Service with Chatbot

In face to face customer service, there are usually a few types of intentions. Enquiries, service requests and complaints are the key ones. Thus, you can implement such intents into your Chatbot. FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) can be supplemented for enquiries. Preliminary input gathering can be done for services requests and complaints before engaging live chat.

Advantages

Chat application is user friendly and intuitive for all groups of users. You can reduce costly complaints page and focus on developing complaint Chatbot. Subsequently, majority of common enquiries can be handled by your FAQ Chatbot. This improve your customer service responses with specific requests.

The time is ripe to invest in your Chatbot and reduce reliance in your old complaint web page or feedback form. The Chatbot will enhance your customer service with self service. Overall, this will greatly improve your customer satisfaction.

Panademic Rollback

Our lifestyle is like a big system deployment. The Covid-19 pandemic has created another rollback to Phase 1.5 (aka Phase 2 Heightened Alert) in Singapore. It is time we get used to the roller coasters effect from the pandemic. What can these effects teach us?

Industry Channel Calibration

Single channel industry needs to undergo massive flexi calibration to multichannel. A major shift will be high touch industry. These roles will need to toggle between face to face services to digital services. It is no surprise that our feedbacks and emails suddenly get answered with slower responses due to overwhelming surge in online services. This lead to very poor satisfaction with online customer service. On the other hand, physical stores have to layoff staffs because there are no customers to serve.

Digitalisation Gap

The digitalisation effects create a huge gap in consumers due to the toggle measures of the pandemic. These gaps include IT savviness, vaccinated vs non vaccinated or even capabilities to provide digital presence. Sadly, those that fall behind will soon be forgotten as we get used to the pandemic effects or the new normal. It lends an important lesson to incumbent industries that pandemic can be a nasty disruptor for some or opportunities for others.

The roller coasters measures of pandemic will be anticipated. Meanwhile, the casualties will be tough to handle and damages be done. We can only calibrate our mindset forward to avoid the bottom end of the digitalisation chasm that comes with it.

Digital Supply Chain 101

Digital Supply Chain (DSC) will be gaining a big leap due to COVID-19. As part of social distancing, there is a huge reduction in physical transfer of goods. This leads to various digitalisation outcome. Many of goods and services emerge and evolves into Digital Supply Chain. These industries are involves high touchpoints like media, publishing and education.

Photo by Ethan Kwok
Parts of DSC

Digital Supply Chain have similarities to Supply Chain. The key parts will be the focus on digital components. These main parts comes together to form the Digital Supply Chain.

  • Content Providers
  • Content Delivery
  • Content Security
  • Content Storage
What it Means for Consumers

Goods that can be provided in digital format can be sold quickly via online platform. Consumers will need somewhere to store and access their digital goods securely. Suppliers can extend its reach to get digital goods via supply chain network. A major breakthrough is the usage of NFT (non-fungible token) for Digital Arts, games, music or even collectibles.

We will see more of digital supply chain as I look forward to buying more digital goods. This helps save physics storage space and digital goods can be easily shared to my family.

Pandemic is Endemic

Moving a pandemic to endemic is a model that will be done for COVID-19 in Singapore. Being a port city, trade and travelling is most important and sustain isolation will do more harm than good. While I look forward to this, there are many things we are learning from pandemic.

Photo by Ethan Kwok
Mindset Adaption

There are a few mindsets that needs to be recalibrated for us to be adaptive. Work From Home (WFH) will stay and jobs are no longer constrained to office space. Many jobs also cannot be totally relied by external workers. Food security have been accelerated to reduce dependency of food imports when borders are closed. Digitalisation have also been ramped up to enabled automation.

Mask and Hygiene Culture

Have everyone realise that flu is lower as well? Seems the mask culture will be here to stay if anyone fall sick. Tray return is also mandatory as we move to a hygiene approach to keep the country clean. This also helps to increase focus of cleaning to sanitise instead of picking your trash.

The announcement to endemic will come soon as vaccination gain momentum. We will likely continue to practice what we learn during the pandemic. Have an open mind to continue the goodness learnt during COVID-19.

Vaccination in Progress

COVID vaccine seems to be a norm now. At the rate the virus is mutating, it also seems that booster shot will be required at a yearly basis. The Covid pandemic have accelerated the development of vaccine at a tremendous pace. How will this impact technologies in future?

Vaccinated Society

Technology are now in place to identify the vaccinated. This will soon creates a divided view on those who choose not to be vaccinated. These technologies also help to automate the access to certain areas. You can view vaccination as a criterion for many activities. Thus, technology will play a key part in the identity of vaccinated person status.

Herd Immunity

Covid will continue to be persistent. Lockdowns will not continue for long at the expense of economy. The aim of vaccination is to achieve herd immunity. Soon, technology can easily profile regions or even countries populated by vaccinated people. Humans may even evolve from vaccination.

The technology to identify vaccinated people are already in place. The push to remove lockdown will speed up the development of these technologies. This gives you a choice to where you may want to visit or travel.