I woke up this morning and saw the news that “Santa Clara County Asks Apple, Google and Others to Cancel Large In-Person Meetings and Conferences.” Half an hour later, I turned on the TV and saw a Chinese young female athlete ready to compete in the 2020 American Cup Gymnastics, live on NBC. What amazed me was the fully packed stadium and the cheering audience sitting closely together. I later learned that this Chinese girl had to fly to Doha first and be quarantined for two weeks before coming to US.
These are two different messages sent to the public. On the one hand, cancelations were made to mitigate the risks of spreading of the virus; on the other hand, life will go on, and business will continue.
There’s no doubt that the Novel Coronavirus is the black swan of 2020. Some of you, just like the 100+ Symbio employees who went back to their hometowns in Hubei and got stuck there, have already been personally impacted by the virus: Our China-based employees have been largely working remotely in the past month, and many are still required to stay at home. While our Nordic teams are stationed in the safest place on earth, Oulu-based automotive team just had a business trip to South Korea and had to self-quarantine upon returning home. I thought I was lucky enough just to be back to US in time from my China trip in January, but only found that the virus started to spread across America right after my February Finland/Sweden travel.
With lives at risk, we hope that conditions improve as quickly as possible. However, it will take considerable time, several quarters just to be cautious, to contain the virus; it will take even longer to see the global economy recover. We should brace ourselves for turbulence and have a prepared mindset for the scenarios that may play out:
- Drop in business activity, the potential of our customers revising spending. Our fastest growing CMBU already saw sharp drop of business in February.
- Supply chain disruptions. The unprecedented lockdown in China has directly impacted the global supply chain, and it definitely has a ripple effect on us.
- Restriction of travel and canceled meetings. Our business model relies on in-person meetings to engage with our customers and close sales, and it will have an impact on us.
- Cashflow will take a hit due to the coronavirus outbreak.
These will affect our financials, requiring us to raise workforce productivity and reduce operation spending in the increasingly uncertain business environment.
Darwin once wrote, those who survive “are not the strongest or the most intelligent, but the most adaptable to change.” With all your support, Symbio can adapt and survive this global crisis.
I would like to remind all of you to be calm and mindful of the situation. I encourage you to pay close attention to the instructions from your local government and public health organization (CDC for example). If you notice any suspected symptoms in yourself or anyone around you, please reach out to your HR team.
Please all stay healthy. Together we can stand stronger in the face of adversity.