Boardroom briefing: Papua New Guinea’s regional clout, the customer is king, and keeping remote workers happy


Papua New Guinea’s standing as a regional power, customer service post-COVID,  and remote care for at-home workers. Readings from around the world on business, leadership and management.

Who’s got the power?

Papua New Guinea has been added to the Lowy Institute’s Asia Power Index 2020 for the first time this year. It’s been placed right at the bottom of the 26-country list, trailing countries such as Mongolia, Nepal, Myanmar and Laos.

PNG was marked down for its low economic capability, low military capacity and defence partnerships, low cultural and diplomatic influence, and low ‘projected distribution of future economic, military and demographic resources’.

Notably, however, PNG scored better in two criteria: its resilience (naturally) and especially the ‘labour dividend’ potential of its working age population over the next 30 years. In the latter, it ranked above China, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam.

Clearly, the only way is up.

The changing face of customer relations

Entrepreneur has pointed out something many businesses know: customers will have the upper hand on the other side of the pandemic, where businesses are desperate to woo them back.

But the article points out a number of other ways customer relationships are set to change post-pandemic.

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‘In harsh economic conditions, consumers become more discerning with where and how they spend their money – for businesses, this creates a new set of challenges,’ the report says. ‘Customer-centricity is a term that has been used since the 1960s, but it has never been more relevant than in today’s business landscape. In such extreme environments, customers want more than the best offering or the lowest price; they seek dependability, confidence and trust in the brands they choose to do business with.’

The report says that businesses may have to forgo growth targets for a while in order to make sure that the growth is meaningful and sustainable. It also suggests that a data-driven approach is most likely to work.

‘Consider every digital touchpoint of your customers’ experiences as though they are leaving behind a fingerprint, containing a goldmine of DNA or data that helps you better understand their needs, expectations and concerns.’

Keeping remote employees engaged

Remote working is not going away any time soon, even in countries like PNG where lockdowns are ending or easing. CNN reports that companies are getting creative with how they reward their working-from-home stars.

To show appreciation for the work that staff are doing, sometimes under trying circumstances, companies are sending out gift baskets, arranging for home delivered food for ‘working lunches’ and even arranging activities to keep at-home kids amused.

It is all about helping to understand that just because employees are working from home, it does not mean that they are slacking off. ‘There is remote work, and then there is pandemic work,’ says Doug Merritt, president and CEO of San Francisco-based Splunk, a data platform company. ‘I am so much more tired at the end of the day, even though my hours are relativity consistent. The end of an office day is so different than the end of a Zoom day.’

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