More activities and facilities in country would provide great leisure opportunities for citizens and residents to avoid travelling outside Oman during this COVID pandemic period
Paul Callaghan, Partner, Moore Oman
The COVID-19 is a game changer in many ways. Perhaps, not many would look at it that way; not after the havoc it created and many would opine that it would be like calling a Tsunami a game changer. But the truth is that all of these are indeed game changers. Today, whether we like it or not, everyone has become part of change. Everything is changing. Even the way we manage change has changed. It is not just people, but organisations, countries are facing complex, continuous change.
Our job now is to learn how to adjust to this continuous change. But, again, thanks to COVID-19, we have been forced to confront with sudden change and in the process, become mini experts at adjusting to change.
Change, in short, is a way of life.
Change is the new reality
Initially, the change to working at home was a change – sort of exciting! Later it became monotony – days became blurry: when was the weekend, when was the working day? Days started late and finished late. An added challenge was getting to grips with MS Teams and Zoom and catching up with clients and contacts virtually – seemed surreal, but has rapidly become the new reality.
Virtual meetings lead to great productivity
Overall, I have learnt to get used to virtual meetings and fixing zoom calls – the key is to be proactive, reach out and schedule regular catchups. Surprisingly work has been done more efficiently: no travel time, including time spent in traffic driving from one meet to the next, has led to great productivity.
Online is the future
I have witnessed a lot more online ordering and use of delivery services. Online is the future I suspect to a great degree – our Middle East Africa and Europe partner conference will be a virtual one this September, giving less cost but a different spin on networking!
Air travel will be reduced
How will these changes affect the future? For the global economy? For Oman?
My colleagues and I will probably never work exactly the same again: less travelling for meetings and more meetings over zoom and MS Teams; at least one day a week working from home. The future will involve less travelling on planes at least initially – this represents a real chance in country tourism to develop in Oman; more activities and facilities in country would provide great leisure opportunities for citizens and residents to avoid travelling outside Oman.
Look more carefully at what we eat
The global economy has taken a hit. Airlines and tourism in particular. However, others such as home delivery services have seen a jump. I expect globally and locally, people will look more carefully at what they are eating and be more interested in sustainable foodstuffs, energy and investment.
Oman’s challenge: oil price
For Oman the biggest challenge is the oil price – the government are taking steps, rationalising and focusing: I have confidence that they will do what needs to be done to encourage inward investment and maintain progress.
The biggest challenge I see will be getting used to working in a more ‘normal’ manner after the lockdown. I am certain that going forwards people will work more often from home so managing productivity and effectiveness will be key: technology and using it to take full advantage will be a key challenge which some sectors of the economy may find harder than others. Personally, it will be determining which meetings need to be “face to face” and which can be virtual, as well as identifying what new services and work approaches are needed to meet the new needs of clients.
Assist smaller businesses cope
We are looking at collaborating with other specialists to support businesses develop better funding strategies and renegotiate with their financers: this will hopefully add value and assist more smaller businesses in Oman cope successfully with the challenges they have been, and to an extent will continue to, face.
Wear a mask when I need to – it is not just about avoiding getting sick, it is about protecting others if I am ill, but have no symptoms – and most importantly, respect for others. Also, take the vaccine when it comes.
Lastly, support my colleagues in working remotely when they need to and coping with the stresses of a different way of working. My team will continue working one day a week from home even when things get back to more normal (they will never be the same!). And wherever possible, meetings will be virtual.
Paul Callaghan leads Moore Oman financial and management consulting. He has spent over 25 years in Oman including 23 years with a Big 4 audit and advisory firm.