Absolutely necessary. Indispensable. Extremely important.
These are just some of the definitions of the term ‘essential service.’ During the lockdown brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, essential services were clearly identified here in South Africa and granted the responsibility of keeping the country ticking over while the government rallied to keep us safe.
As an essential service, we at Huge Connect are taking our role seriously and have implemented procedures and processes to keep the lights on – both for our business and yours.
What Lockdown Looks Like
The President’s lockdown announcement of 23rd March 2020 seems like a lifetime ago for many of us. And we understand that these few weeks carry with them a massive impact with ripple effects that will no doubt last for years.
We, along with the rest of South Africa, were profoundly affected by the lockdown. We saw how it had the potential to devastate our staff, our business, our customers, our shareholders, and of course, the greater South African economy.
Asking 59 million people to self-quarantine was never going to be easy, but it was necessary. Most of us acquiesced and followed protocol while trying to foster a positive attitude.
However, the effects of this have been far-reaching for our nation, many of whom are in dire financial straits. Approximately 60 percent of South Africa’s GDP comes from small businesses and micro-enterprises, and it is these that have been hardest hit.
The financial burden for families is substantial, but there is more to it.
A telling article on the psychological impact of lockdown on individuals says, in part, “In short, and perhaps unsurprisingly, people who are quarantined are very likely to develop a wide range of symptoms of psychological stress and disorder, including low mood, insomnia, stress, anxiety, anger, irritability, emotional exhaustion, depression and post-traumatic stress symptoms. Low mood and irritability specifically stand out as being very common, the study notes.”
An article in Bloomberg says, “The Reserve Bank projected the initial three-week lockdown could cost 370,000 formal-sector jobs and cause 1,600 businesses to close. But after the restrictions were extended by another 14 days, Governor Lesetja Kganyago said it’s a nightmare for forecasters and any numbers projecting job losses are “most likely going to be a thumb-suck.”
Businesses that were able to continue trading have relied heavily on being online.
In fact, a phone line, a stable internet connection and secure data connectivity for payments have been the only thing staving off closure of many small businesses.
Those who cannot trade at all under the current restrictions have worked to expand their service offering and join hands with other affiliate businesses to stay afloat, and we have seen a surge of interest in eCommerce.
Being announced as an essential services company for the telecommunications and banking sectors, we realised quickly that now, more than ever, business continuity is extremely important, ensuring that we maintain vital service delivery to customers.
The first step that we took, therefore, was to implement the health and safety guidelines as prescribed by the government, which included most of our staff working from home.
We ensured a conducive remote working environment, as well as crucial data connectivity to access all relevant office systems and telephone platforms. Critical staff functions remained at our Head Office with Fields Engineers on the road to install and maintain merchant services.
We moved quickly to ensure that our customers could maintain their business functions.
It is now lockdown day fifty-something and looking in the rear-view mirror, Huge Connect has been able to sustain our service delivery in the market successfully.
Could and should we have done things differently, we ask ourselves? The answer in hindsight is always yes, but we have been, and are doing sufficiently well to withstand the COVID-19 impact and playing an extremely important role in the economy of South Africa.
We continue to provide new installations, upgrades and support services throughout the country, as we speak.
We are maintaining our network, our operations and our high standard of service our customers have become accustomed to. We’re honouring supply agreements to our suppliers and partners to ensure constant and effective service delivery to the thousands of merchants and its customers that are dependent on Huge Connect services.
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