As COVID-19 continues to tighten its grip on the globe, organizations around the world continue to navigate through an unchartered territory. Company executives have been forced to make big, lasting, decisions as their businesses transitioned into remote working environments due to national emergencies. As the crisis completes its first year, economies have shed millions of jobs bringing about unemployment, bankruptcy and financial strain.
In reinforcing their commitment to new well-being standards and norms for the sake of coping with safety regulations, employees are being asked to work in new ways and new contexts. Millions of people around the world have been working remotely to contain the virus’ transmission, which has dramatically changed the way we work. Traditional resilience planning is no longer viable as a response to these new pressures put upon us by a pandemic that challenges the fatality of the Spanish flu. These ripples through the world’s system require new responses from our world’s leaders.
Government-mandated shutdowns have resulted in halted operations and suspended plans. As a first response to treat the public health crisis, a night-time nationwide curfew was imposed on March 25th by Egyptian Authorities in addition to a total lock down in some villages and the disinfection of hundreds of buildings, streets and facilities across the country. Amid national fears of an outbreak, additional preventive measures to halt the spread of the virus were set in place. In hopes of reducing mingling between travelers to and from Egypt, as the number of cases and death toll increased, Egypt, at one time with the rest of the world, announced its suspension from and to its airports.
What does this mean for IEREK?
In mid-March, IEREK underwent a hurried and rather rocky transition to remote work as the country began to implement new policies in its endeavor to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With its two main branches located in Egypt’s two most populated cities, Cairo, the capital, and Alexandria, IEREK’s adherence to the implemented rules and regulations was even more necessary as a likelihood of the disease spread has become much higher than before. The measures started with social-distancing, regular sanitization of offices, shutting down all in-person events, applying remote working systems and developing strategies that would not hinder the production process.
These strategies produced a new venture towards virtual conferencing systems that allowed us as an organization, alongside you as scholars, researchers, and academics, to continue to pursue fresh and innovative efforts towards continued progress and development.
“Prior to this Pandemic, little attention was paid to health concerns related to overpopulated areas, especially offices. Aside from the obvious sanitary requirements, the calculation for such significant and vastly spreading panic and justified concern for health repercussions, was never of such urgency. This pandemic has taught the world that no matter how advanced an entity, or society, can become, there is always more room for mistakes, for learning, for growth…”
- Dr. Mourad Amer, IEREK’s CEO and Founder
Along with a new conferencing style, we as an organization began applying a new system that responds to the virus and entails engaging with stakeholders, promoting virtual work, increasing support, transforming the workforce and workplace, and many more.
Finding New Opportunities
With the obvious effect inflicted on the global economy by this virus, businesses, including our own, have had to shed many possible opportunities due to the general uncertainty put in place by the newness and size of the event.
All plans made and partnerships created had to be either postponed or wholly scrapped, as they would have caused extra cost on the organizations without any returns, as audience numbers were dwarfed for safety and customer service employees were filtered for cost, making any new projects a sum-zero product. This issue was even further amplified due to the fact that, as soon as business owners realized it, they preemptively pulled finances from most of their business ventures and endeavors, causing a cycle of events that halted the world.
However, as soon as businesses began learning that this halt will cost them more of a loss than if they worked for less output, they began innovating new ways to locate opportunities with like-minded entities for the sake of keeping the wheels of the world turning. IEREK was one of the early adopters of this ideal.
IEREK, very early on, began implementing all the possible safety precautions and innovating new ideas that would keep the pandemic’s devastating echo at bay. It eventually started communicating effectively with hopeful members of the academic community who reflected its passion in continuing to provide an enriching platform that supports forward-thinking research and researchers coming from around the globe, regardless of the challenging circumstances.
Once these driven scholars found the opportunity to maintain an active and positive role in the community, they did not hesitate. This opportunity was our conversion of our on-site conferences into online conferencing. This change facilitated a comfortable, productive experience that was most importantly, safe.
Researchers from around the world began participating in our online conferences from the comfort and safety of their own homes. One could see the evident effect the pandemic had on not just our lifestyle but even the produced work. The presenters incorporated the pandemic in their presentations and papers, further chronicling the pandemic’s print in history by introducing their analytical eye.
Here is a summary of how our growing research community members actively incorporated COVID-19 into their multidisciplinary research in an effort to help ministries, governments, and mankind tackle the pandemic and build resilience in the face of hardship.
With billions of people in lockdown, unable to visit one another, go to work, attend school, or just meet in a public setting, people were provided with the blessing of less distraction which allowed them enough time to reflect on their lives. This quiet era gave way for a collective raising of awareness during the global lockdowns. The year’s challenges gave everyone a chance to reflect inwards, or provided enough trials that helped guide us towards some answers we might not have known we needed.
Of these answers came many lessons-learned. It showed the world the value of many little things that were previously taken for granted, such as freedom to move, even if it is only going to the grocery store. It showed us the importance of finding the purpose of our businesses, governments, communities and entities as it should always be to serve man kind’s needs, which was not our reality. It showed us that the only way these needs could be served by our systems is if they encourage us to cooperate regardless of borders.
It showed us that the collective awareness and movement are the only safety precaution necessary.
Now, facing a prolonged period of changing circumstances due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the world is forced to cope and find a ‘new normal’. Numbers may have plummeted, facilities may have reopened, and restrictions may have been loosened, but the world is still going through a global pandemic with a second wave already hitting hard. The norm has become wearing face masks even when running mundane errands, watching movies at the cinema, commuting to work, riding the bus, or even riding a car with your friends. The new norm has become to constantly sanitize your hands and anything you buy or bring home.
Still, with all these changes, numbers continue to fluctuate; forcing the world to commit to strict rules and regulations that aim at preventing the recurrence of events. However, this return promises a new outlook and temperament as the first trial provided experience and ideas that should help alleviate the effects of a new lockdown as well as provide overall efficiency.
IEREK’s plans moving forward is to implement the best strategies that would ensure productivity and safety, given the best circumstances. Of these plans is the division of the year’s events into two possibilities; a percentage on-site, and another percentage online; thus putting in place a calculated safety net to be applied according to circumstance. This way we provide the audience with the experience they look forward to each year, given that conditions allow, and when they do not, still, provide the beneficial service they search for.
This year’s post-pandemic lifestyle brought about the implementation of new processes that facilitate living our day-to-day, comfortably and, most importantly, safely. It also brought about the awareness that in order for the individual to be able to move forward, the whole must come together and work in harmony.
Still, the strategies the company follows do not necessarily guarantee success. Everyone is still responding to the best of their ability, placing contingency plans, learning as they go, wading through and hoping for the best.
Let us all be grateful for this period’s teachings that armed us with the necessary skill set to face what comes our way, while we look forward to a more promising future.
Public Relations & Communications Officer