Coronavirus Pandemic: Updates Worldwide

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For most of this year, China lived seven weeks into the future.

The second largest economy in the world was the first to be affected by the coronavirus epidemic – and also one of the first to reopen gradually. And as the rest of the world prepares to do the same, companies that have been forced to respond first to the epidemic in China are using their early experiences to form a model for other regions.

Here’s a look at how the future of the business has changed – and how China is giving us insight.

Our way of working: Companies are starting to think about how to implement social distancing and safer behavior in the workplace.

For example, offices can be more spaced apart and sensors could replace the shared surfaces we used to touch; instead of swiping your entry card to get inside, for example, you could face a facial recognition camera or display a QR code on your phone.

And after months of working from home, the way we communicate at work has also changed, with an explosion in demand for enterprise software.

A pedestrian walking through a Nike store in Shanghai in March.
A pedestrian walking through a Nike store in Shanghai in March. Credit: Yves Dean / Getty Images

Our way of shopping: As millions of people take refuge at home, they are forced to create new routines and lifestyles – and to change their buying habits.

Nike pivoted quickly and efficiently by accelerating its online business in China. Digital sales in Greater China increased by more than 30% in the last quarter, while weekly active users for its activity apps soared 80%, CEO John Donahoe told investors.

The way we manage our supply chains: The pandemic has seen shortages of essential materials and supplies and a crisis in worker absenteeism.

This forces companies to rethink how they ship or send their goods, and could force a reinvention of the global supply chain. The pandemic has been a “wake-up call” for many companies, said Alain Benichou, CEO of IBM China.

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