by Tom Fels (@thomasfels) Just a few short months ago, everyone was planning for 2020 with a business-as-usual mindset. Within weeks, that’s all changed.

The effects of covid-19 and the oil shocks sparked by the production war between Russia and Saudi Arabia have sent tsunami-sized waves through markets, the business community and society at large. We’re now constructing a new normal in real time, one characterised by limited global travel, social distancing, remote working and radically rethinking the year, or rather years, ahead.

As we rebuild in the time of the coronavirus, here are five areas in which we can take strategic advantage of the situation to foster more-conscious business:

#1. Leveraging new levels of awareness

Many simple daily activities we typically undertake unconsciously, such as touching our faces or regularly washing our hands, are now fully conscious actions. So, too, has our focus on humanity and compassion for others been elevated, as we see countries debilitated and economies threatened.

There’s a remarkable opportunity in this time of recalibration to capitalise on enhanced individual and social consciousness by rebuilding business within a context framed by greater humanity.

#2. Build from the bottom

Just as many fortunes are made by sharp-witted investors who invest at the bottom of the market, one should ask: What long-term gains may be made by going beyond the norm in the midst of crisis to build a view of the future that surpasses ‘survival’ and is shaped by an entirely new mindset?

By acknowledging the social transformation ‘wave’ of this new decade, the timing is ripe for a strategic-orientation that serves a far more inclusive stakeholder view.

#3. New working protocols

The immediate call for remote working and travel bans instituted by governments and many large corporations are, in themselves, an incredible simulation for the future world of work.

Traditional stigmas around remote working and a general preference for face-to-face meetings over virtual conferencing have been challenged overnight. Their legacy, I believe, has been the inhibiting of globalised talent resources and skills. We are, therefore, likely to see a reshaping of talent networks, as well as the facilitation of more-flexible working conditions that serve a more digitally connected professional society.

#4. A helping hand

Despite the hit that global markets have taken, many large corporations maintain a unique advantage in being sufficiently resourced to weather the storm, while small and medium enterprises are being brought to their knees.

This should be the time that the purpose orientation and values of big business are pushed to the fore, engaging their suppliers to generate holistic, shared-value solutions, rather than acting solely in the interests of short-term self-preservation.

#5. Collective responsibility

Finally, this time calls on us to be individually, and collectively, responsible. Society doesn’t often call on its citizens — global citizens — to act in a manner that serves the whole, despite sacrifice on the part of the individual. In response to this situation, we’re required to catalyse a new type of culture that’s geared towards total good.

Showing evidence of this leadership on a personal, organisational and societal level is sure to generate an appreciation for the type of change that we’d all love to see in the world. This is the time to act together in life, and in business.

May it be long-lived.

See also


Tom FelsTom Fels (@thomasfels) is a mission-driven brand expert, keynote speaker and an evangelist for conscious business. He’s just launched Animarem, a boutique impact advisory that guides and powers the shift toward conscious business. More recently, he was CEO at Singita and Nurun and group MD of Publicis Machine (now Machine_), where he oversaw local and global award-winning communications, digital and hospitality businesses. A past contributor, his new monthly column, “Mission”,  motivates for a more-conscious approach to business and intends to inspire change.

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