The Reality of Resilient Regions in the COVID Economy & Beyond

View from Lithgow contryside town in NSW Australia

Given the disruption being experienced across Australia, any region or community that might assert that they are resilient must first test their understanding of a new definition of resilience - beyond bouncing back from shocks to resume ‘business as usual’.

The new definition of resilience is to ‘change ahead of change’. Investment in any other strategy exposes regions to a waste of precious resources and the risk of lost opportunity.

Prior to 2020, exponential disruptive change was an already volatile mix of automation, digital saturation, energy chaos, a new future for work, social change, sclerotic government, immense domestic and sovereign debt and the inability of political leaders to actively respond in a timely way to climate change.

If that reality wasn’t enough to wake-up those responsible for community-based strategy, the current pandemic (there will be more) rapidly devastated ‘business as usual’. It also fast-tracked change that was already waiting in the wings (e.g. accelerated digital saturation, remote work, tele-services) and generated, at lightning speed, a whole new economy – the COVID Economy.

Within the world as it was pre-COVID, many communities and organisations were unconsciously in a state of M.A.D. (Managed Adaptive Decline) whereby they were adapting to ever-declining conditions, albeit in well-managed manner, and exponentially failing to generate sustainable value.

The Boiling Frog Sydnrome is a classic example of MAD
The Boiling Frog Sydnrome is a classic example of MAD

For those already in MADness, the coronavirus pandemic was the final straw. They now have a name that describes them well – ‘zombies’ – the walking dead.

Equally, for those communities and organisations able to continually pivot in sync with the CVD-19 disruption and formulate strategies consistent with this fast-emerging new reality, the COVID Economy provides ample opportunities to both survive and potentially thrive.

The disruptive upheaval to the social-economics of communities has been broad and deep and will continue to manifest as the world adapts socially and economically to new ways of being in COVID Normal. This will last for at least well into 2022.

Recognising the new COVID Economy and acting accordingly is the first step in ‘changing ahead of change’ to shape a resilient region.

The ultimate challenge is to develop a COVID Economy strategy that can be actioned over a two-year period and directly links to and lays the groundwork for life and work in the REAL CLIMATE Economy.

Over the next five to ten years – 2025 to 2030 the REAL CLIMATE Economy will rapidly emerge. In some ways, this economy will be a choice for those who are prepared. However, for most, the reality of the REAL CLIMATE Economy will be determined by the inevitable disruptions derived from our past failure to ‘change ahead of change’ in times when the emergent environmental and subsequent social-economic conditions surrounding climate change were known, but largely ignored.

From this point forward, the ‘ultimate challenge’ must be front and centre for regional Australia. Responding and adapting to the REAL CLIMATE Economy will be most effective and efficient when led, developed and implemented at the regional and local community level.

The time from now until 2030 will be complex, uncertain and chaotic. Making impactful decisions about the future in that context require a ‘whole-systems’ approach to local strategy that identifies the conditions behind the interdependence of key systems (social, economic, environmental, transport, energy, built form, etc.) and robustly reveals the opportunities that may be pursued, and risks to be mitigated.

Given the pace of change and the convergence of multiple forms of disruption, governments at state and national levels will not be able to act to create meaningful impact at the local scale in an effective, efficient and timely manner.

Coming to terms with this new reality is the first step for regional leaders to begin the urgent process of asserting a new form of resilience through ‘changing ahead of change’ to leverage disruption to generate sustainable value for people, communities and organisations.


Technology in Healthcare w/ Chai Chua

technology in healthcare

The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed technology in healthcare that could revolutionise the healthcare sector into the public eye but the question remains, why did it take a disaster to reveal them and how does the sector keep the momentum going? 

As the deadly virus made its way across Australia, virtual healthcare and Telehealth were quickly rolled out and 3D printing was used to manufacture face masks and goggles as personal protective equipment (PPE) shortages became apparent. 

While these technologies aren’t new, the threat of wide-spread infection exposed their potential. 

Chai Chuah, a prominent figure in New Zealand’s healthcare sector and former director-general of health, now advises organisations on the future of healthcare which he believes will include genomics, artificial intelligence, robotics, wearables, nanotechnology and 3D printing. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought some of these technologies out of the woodwork where they were previously ticking around in the background, unable to penetrate the “fortress” of the healthcare sector, Mr Chuah told INTREPID. 

“All these technologies are kind of bubbling away quietly in the background and sometimes it kind of feels like it's a hammer looking for a nail to nail down,” he said. 

"But then suddenly you get something like COVID-19 and then boom, like the lid’s just taken off.

"Virtual care has literally happened overnight, particularly in the primary care setting and to some extent in hospitals because hospitals are saying to the patient, please don't come in you can use tele consultations.”

3D printing, or additive manufacturing, also suddenly came to the healthcare fore, according to Mr Chuah, who said “pockets of innovation” were producing face masks and other PPE. 

“So the question is what are all these things out there now? Do we need to actually wait for a pandemic, or can we be proactive to unleash this exponential energy?,” he said. 

“If you ask my view, my view is, there is not a fat chance in hell in any health jurisdiction for them to be that proactive.

“They will only react.” 

The “natural strength” of the healthcare system is its ability to “rescue”, says Mr Chuah, but it has also become a major weakness for the industry which is slow to adopt revolutionary technology before a disaster strikes. 

"I think the private sector is about to go through a lot of change and I think there'll be a lot of incumbents who will go out of business and then I think there's gonna be a whole lot of new ones come on,” he said. 

“"In the new wave of the private sector, how do we harness them for them to be able to provide solutions?”

Giving support to younger professionals to rise up the ranks, such as academics and scientists, will form part the way forward to secure a technologically advance future healthcare system, says Mr Chuah. 
“What we do need to is to invest in the developing and helping the young ones come through to help navigate some of the land-mines,” he said. 

“For people like us in our generation, I think the best thing we can do is share the experience and let them figure out what the solution looks like.” 

Mental Health w/ Anna Feringa

Mental Health COVID

COVID-19 has shaken up the business world forever and amid the rapidly changing environment companies now face a make-or-break decision – look after employees’ mental health, or suffer far-reaching consequences.

The pandemic has not only impacted how employees operate within their companies – with many working from home – but also how they manage their own lives around tight restrictions, home schooling and detachment from friends and family.

With these disruptions comes an increase in mental health issues and the exacerbation of pre-existing mental health issues, which ultimately leads to problems at home and in the workplace, virtual or otherwise.

Workplace mental health consultant Anna Feringa has 17 years experience working in the sector and is currently working with large non-for-profits to assist them in helping employees through the stressful COVID-19 pandemic.

Ms Feringa told INTREPID while mental health issues in the work place were already “a significant issue”, they had become more apparent due to the crisis.

A lack of priority and education has been preventing companies from implementing effective mental health policy with a focus on safety, Ms Feringa said.

“What we're finding pre-COVID is that the term mental health didn't really have a safety aspect to it,” she said.

“What companies are facing in that respect, is if we're not doing it well, and we're not prioritising it well, and making it available for our people to respect and understand whilst at work – the fallout is huge.

That fallout – according to Ms Feringa – impacts employees’ ability to perform their job well, organisational relationship breakdowns and increases in error and mistake.

The recipe for effective mental health safety within companies comes down to a “platform that is authentic, available, digestible and applicable”, said Ms Feringa.

“Like any form of education, if it's delivered in the right paradigm to the right people in the right time, you will get traction.”

Change has to start from the top down according to Ms Feringa, who said leaders need to be given the skills to be “vulnerable, ask the right questions and know when to stop”.

“If you're a leader and someone starts to open up to you and tell you all of their issues, and you're their boss. Where's your boundary?,” she said.

“Now when I say stop, I don't mean stop caring, just know where else you can guide that person, but no one's going to do it unless the organisation reframes it, and gives their people permission.”

Fear is one of the biggest barriers in preventing companies from making significant headway in support their staff, with many companies “tip toeing” around the problem instead of facing it head on.

For Ms Feringa, the main fears she hears from clients are its “too hard, too far away or not a priority” and that if they discover more employees are unwell than initially thought, it would trigger a wave of time off.

“It's really important how the organisational industry chooses to prioritise and respect this stuff – particularly now – needs to be done well and it needs to be done with truth,” she said.

“Good leaders are vulnerable, good leaders are human, good leaders understand that they need to put people before process.”

The Disruption Ready Organization in a COVID Economy

Disruption Ready Organization

The Disruption Ready Organization in a COVID Economy 

The COVID-19 pandemic has not only had a singular, disruptive impact on the entire planet, it has thrown fuel on the fire of disruption’s other manifestations.

The reality of disruption is that it has always walked hand-in-hand with human expansion, ingenuity, invention, and innovation. In fact, for all of human history, one person’s innovation has inevitably been someone else’s disruption.

However, disruption today is different due to its scope and scale, the speed of change, and the systemic consequences of its impacts. COVID-19 has intensified all of these.

Disruption Ready Organization

When an operating environment already teetering between complexity and chaos tips into a new operating state, no organisation or individual is likely to escape the consequences. In this new reality, disruption is most often experienced as a merciless headwind rather than a powerful and energizing tailwind. Simply knowing about “disruption” is no longer enough.

Instead, disruption readiness has become a primary imperative for organizations and their leaders. It requires:

  1. Developing a mindset that is open to thinking ahead, embracing complexity, and harnessing change;
  2. Cultivating a skill-set focused on pursuing the opportunities that disruption creates;
  3. Activating a “strategy in action” that embraces new and agile approaches to strategic thinking and action; and
  4. Changing ahead of change.

For most organizations and individuals, understanding, embracing, and leveraging disruption in this way is the test of our time. The reality is that too many were already not up to the task. COVID-19 has merely ripped the band-aid off.

The Disruption Ready Organization Diagnostic

The Disruption Ready Organization (DRO) diagnostic is a tool that assists executives, senior leaders, and key staff to objectively and collectively self-assess the disruption readiness of their organisations. In other words, it helps them to answer a critical question, “Are you ready to leverage disruption?”

The diagnostic also identifies key areas of strength to leverage and gaps to address across eight key indicators. These have been developed through a combination of research and feedback from organizations about the key areas of focus that enable change ahead of change.

Finally, through regular retesting, organizations can objectively examine whether their investments into becoming disruption ready are actually moving the needle.

Why Disruption Readiness Matters in the COVID Economy

As the converging social, economic, environmental, political, health, and technological implications of the COVID pandemic start to become clear, organizations must quickly examine how they are placed relative to these disruptions.

Becoming over-focused on the immediate impacts of the pandemic and losing sight of the other disruptions yet to come is a key risk at this time. Equally, there are real opportunities to seize in this period of time.

In many ways, making the most of the COVID Economy is practice for further disruption to come.

Resilient Futures' Disruption Ready Australia Report Card 2019
Resilient Futures' Disruption Ready Australia Report Card 2019

We know from the data we have collected to date that many organizations have a general awareness of disruption. But the data also shows they largely do not know how to re-set their focus, capabilities, people, culture, and supply networks to be ready for what comes next.

Take the DRO diagnostic now to gain immediate feedback about how ready your organisation is to find its way forward in the COVID Economy.

Around the Network

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The Resilient Futures Network is currently a collective of 3500 decision-makers and leaders who recognize that we are in a cycle of disruptive change. We want to create a way forward together by learning, practicing, and sharing experiences with like-minded people.

around the network

When you join our Network, you receive the first two chapter of our book Disrupted: Strategy for Exponential Change for free. This book details the fundamentals of a 21st Century strategic framework, Strategy in Action (SiA), and examples of organisations leveraging disruption.

We recently had a large group of students who are completing an Executive Master of Business Administration (MBA) course at Hult International Business School sign up to the Network, identifying interest in Disrupted.

HULT International Business School in Dubai
HULT International Business School in Dubai

When we reached out, one student, Karim Hechema, informed us that the book chapters 1 and 2 was part of a pre-reading preparation for the course Disruptive Business Model by Dr Manuel Tejeiro Koller.” We have since contacted Dr. Manuel Tejeiro to work further on assisting him and his students with their study and develop a relationship with Hult Business School.

Thought Leaders Thinking: Rebecca D. Costa

Rebecca Costa

Six months since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, relevant empirically proven information is scare, while general complexity is high—and rising. According to the lauded American sociobiologist and futurist Rebecca D. Costa, these are conditions that may be outpacing our ability to manage them.

Ms. Costa is an Edward O. Wilson Biodiversity Technology Award recipient, and author of The Watchman’s Rattle, one of the 2010s most critically acclaimed books. As an expert in “fast adaptation”, she counts luminaries such as Ray Kurzweil as her colleagues in helping humanity make best use of technology.

Rebecca D. Costa - Leaders Thinking
American sociobiologist and futurist, Rebecca Costa

Ms. Costa discussed with INTREPID the possibility that the pandemic is a triggering event for the “fourth step” in human evolution. This “fourth step” involves training our brains to be better able to manage the complex world we find ourselves in.

“We’re not quite there, but we’re getting close. One of the symptoms of complexity reaching an apex and making the society vulnerable to a triggering event [that unravels societies very quickly] is that there is mass confusion between facts and unproven beliefs. [In this context], leaders begin to forge public policy based on unproven beliefs. And eventually public policy becomes irrational.”

An example of this “irrational” public policy in the wake of COVID-19 is responding to unemployment by investing into infrastructure.

“[Government is investing into] more bridges, more public transportation, more highways…that the people who are working from home for good are not going to use. So, while I don’t think COVID-19 is quite [a triggering event], I think we’re approaching a time where we are now being driven by unproven beliefs, rather than facts, owing to the levels of complexity that that the human brain is just simply not designed to be able to understand.”

Government is investing in frastructure in response to unemployment
Government is investing in frastructure in response to unemployment

“The nature of the evolution of civilizations is we never get simpler. Look at financial markets: you start out with barter; you wind up with credit default swaps that even experts can’t explain.

It gets more and more and more complex and more and more difficult for humans to manage or even understand. That is the nature of progress.”

According to Ms. Costa, we must leverage technology in order to manage this complexity, of which COVID-19 is just the latest major accelerant.

“When it comes to actual data, I trust machines much more than I trust humans. E. O. Wilson put it best. He said we have Paleolithic emotions, medieval institutions, and godlike technology.

We’re biased in so many unconscious ways that machines are not. And we’re at the point right now where the data sets are so massive. We create in roughly every 12 months as much data as we created from the dawn of humankind to the year 2015. So, there’s just no way we can keep up with all of that.”

Ms. Costa posits that the predictive power of technologies like AI give human beings “a power, unlike anything humanity has ever had, to see consequences…We’re fast approaching a time where all of this data is allowing us to make really precise predictions and then head off negative consequences before they occur.” This capability, she says, is especially crucial as humanity confronts complex problems such as climate change.

“So, when people ask me, well, what will the role of humans be if decisions are being made and data is being analyzed that the human brain hasn’t evolved to be able to comprehend? [I say it will] be to be the stewards of ethics, morality, compassion, the things we will never be able to teach machines.”

What Do You Value?

What do you Value

With the COVID pandemic, an impassable gulf opened up between the world we knew and an overwhelming new reality. Responding adequately to this profound experience of discontinuity, of being severed from what came before, means asking a simple question.

What do you value?

In other words, what are the core principles that guide your behaviour, your hopes and dreams, your political actions, your efforts to learn and grow? Now that your habitual way of being is disrupted, what is your true north?

In situations where our knowledge and experiences no longer apply to our circumstances, we have to look deeper for direction. After all, values are immutable, non-negotiable. It may be that they are the only forces on this planet that are relatively invulnerable to disruption. Hence, they provide stability and direction when all other guidelines are thrown into a state of disarray.

What Do You Value
Values provide stability & direction when other guidelines are thrown into disarray

Whether we want to or not, we are all currently engaged in a world-building project. It’s a grand experiment with life and death consequences. Severed from the old, we have no choice but to construct the new. In this COVID Economy, we are making the choices that will determine unspeakably important outcomes. Those outcomes include whether the planet will remain viable for human habitation. Whether future generations will be shackled by unmanageable debt. Whether opportunities to generate value will be equitably distributed.

Since the stakes couldn’t possibly be higher, we must examine most fundamental substrates of our motivation. We must identify what generates our enthusiasm for crafting a new world out of the fragments of what came before.

As a strategist working with the think tank New Commons in the mid-aughts, I grew quite familiar with the enthusiasm specific to “development experts.” Tasked with starting up projects in struggling communities on the American East Coast, they understandably loved talking about what they knew. Infrastructure. Local food. Urban design.

I’d always ask them a question: “What do you value?” It was almost always a difficult question to answer.

I’d say, “If all this money is put into good roads, will that satisfy you? Do you love roads?”

They’d say, “No, I just want this community to improve.”


“For my family!”


“Because I love them.”

No matter what the issue was, it always came down to love. It was at the heart of all that we did, or tried to do.

So, will our reorientation into this COVID Economy be guided by anything other than love? Should it? As you make your contribution to this new world, what is fueling you?

Celebrating Success: The Royal Australasian College of Surgeons Builds Agility Through Communication

surgeons in covid

When John Biviano reflects on the last six months under COVID-19, he is amazed by the way “the College profession has united, particularly regarding decision-making and communication.” Mr. Biviano is CEO of the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS). Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that the College Fellows he and his colleagues work with have been engaged in matters of life and death significance.

Agility Through Communication
Royal Australasian College of Surgeons (RACS) in Melbourne, Victoria

Mr. Biviano explains, “When the pandemic started, we had to ensure sufficient surgical capacity in hospitals. To do that, we worked closely with government at all levels, remained in touch with health departments, and provided the right advice to protect everyone’s health. Our President, Dr Tony Sparnon, developed a close working relationship with the various Chief Medical Officers and other key health experts.”

One critically important decision RACS made was to recommend reduction of elective surgeries. They were also one of the first colleges to voluntarily shut down and take all interactions online. In March 2020, they pulled off the feat of transitioning over 200 staff to working from home within two weeks. Mr. Biviano says that “within three to four weeks, it all became quite normal.”

RACS surgeons, “eager to do their part”, produced evidence-based reviews on triaging patients, a matter of utmost importance under COVID-19. Mr. Biviano says that these reviews would have normally taken months to produce, but RACS’ research unit completed them in weeks.

As a whole, RACS is responsible for training surgeons and maintaining surgical standards in Australia and New Zealand. But Mr. Biviano notes that it is an umbrella organization for specialty societies such as Neurosurgery and Cardiothoracic Surgery. As such, the work of coordinating communications and decision-making between all of these bodies is complex. However, Mr. Biviano was “amazed by the ability of our staff and the surgeons who work with the college to adjust to things like Zoom.”

In addition to the willingness of team members to adjust, Mr. Biviano credits RACS’ extraordinary agility to the organization’s communication-focused approach.

“As a staff, we had a habit of holding 9am Zoom meetings to stay on top of the situation,” he explains. “We also provided daily communication to members. And we created a COVID hub website that collected guidelines our members were producing.”

Mr. Biviano is careful to note that RACS adjusts its communications frequency according to conditions. “For a while our management team met daily, but that’s gone down to twice weekly now. I was sending daily emails to staff; now they go out fortnightly. You don’t want to swamp people.

“Communication is how we equip people to be more agile. We support staff and members to make changes and when they see the benefits, it cements those changes. As difficult as it’s been, COVID-19 has enabled us to push change a little further.”

Antwork: a timely pivot into medical supplies drone delivery

Drone Delivery Concept

Strategy in Action is an inherently fluid and real-time approach to strategy. In essence, it means evaluating conditions, identifying opportunities and risks, determining how to generate value within them, identifying needed capabilities, and launching catalytic actions. The actions activate the strategy, which is always evolving in response to conditions. Here, we explore a business or organization embodying this responsive strategic style.

Across the COVID Economy, there are many start-ups and newly pivoted businesses who are operating in synch with the complex conditions this pandemic has created. One example is Antwork, a Chinese drone company delivering small parcels of emergency medical supplies.

strategy in action
Antwork uses drone delivery network for medical service | Source: Antwork Robotics

When the company launched in 2015, it was meant to be a food delivery service, like SkipTheDishes with drones. The first company of its kind in China, it enjoyed success delivering takeout and groceries to suburbanites.

But in early 2019, Antwork laid the groundwork for a significant pivot. The idea was to capitalize on China’s $287.3 Billion pharmaceutical market, 10% of which constitutes medical supply delivery costs. First, they became China’s first company to secure official approval conduct commercial drone deliveries in highly-populated urban areas. Next, they obtained the required paperwork to make medically hygienic deliveries, and began testing their service with hospitals.

Then, on February 6th, 2020, at 9 am, Antwork launched the first “urban air transportation channel”. They delivered supplies from the People’s Hospital of Xinchang County to the disease control center of Xinchang County, one of COVID-19’s hardest-hit regions in China. Antwork’s capabilities could not have come together at a more optimal time for meeting the urgent, complex logistical needs the pandemic created.

Antwork drone carries medical supplies between critical locations in China
Antwork drone carries medical supplies between critical locations in China

Based on Antwork’s experience, the advantages of medical drone delivery are now clear. As an automatic service, it minimizes contact opportunities between supplies and people, making delivers more hygienic. It frees up human resources and emergency vehicles in emergency situations. It also reportedly increases delivery efficiency by more than 50% compared to road transportation.

Currently, medical services supply forms the core of Antwork’s business. According to Nikkei Asian Review, the company’s “primary revenue sources are selling drones and other hardware to hospitals, and charging annual flight and service fees.”

Unsurprisingly, Antwork now has the attention of the world’s business elite. At the World Economic Forum’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution’s Annual Meeting of the New Champions, CEO Zhang Lei was a panel presenter. Alongside companies like their WEF co-presenters Zipline, Antwork is educating the world about the life-saving potential of drone delivery.

Industries to Watch: PanSafe & Telework


In mere months, the emerging COVID Economy has powerfully accelerated industries that meet urgent and unprecedentedly large needs. PanSafe, which caters to sanitation needs under pandemic conditions, and telework, which supports remote work, are two such breakout industries.

PanSafe: fuelled by employers and individual consumers alike

A quick survey of top-selling products (e.g., hand sanitizer) during the spring and summer of 2020 reveal the growing significance of the pandemic safety—PanSafe—industry. This encompasses both the personal protective equipment market, which protects workers against workplace hazards, as well as products like face-masks and sanitizers.

PanSafe at Work
Employees demonstrate PanSafe practices at work

According to the research group Fortune Business Insights, the personal protective equipment market is projected to become a $92.86 Billion industry by 2027, with a CAGR of 7.4%. (It was valued at just $52.43 billion in 2019.) This sector is driven by employers seeking to avoid lost production time and save costs on employee compensation and medical expenses. Demand is, unsurprisingly, especially high in frontline health care.

Of course, in addition to employers seeking to reduce their liability, individual consumers are fuelling PanSafe’s ascendency. In a survey by Grand View Research, 77% of respondents reported a preference for using hand sanitizer, rather than just relying on hand washing. Forward-looking manufacturers and retailers are catering to discriminating protective face mask shoppers with an array of stylish products. As of July 2020, Googling “fashion face masks” will yield hundreds of millions of search results.

Reusable fashion face masks produced by Manufacturer Meo and New Zealand fashion designer Karen Walker.
Reusable fashion face masks produced by Manufacturer Meo and New Zealand fashion designer Karen Walker.

Currently, demand for PanSafe products is outstripping production. The human resources firm Randstad  reports that shortages are so acute, manufacturers from unrelated sectors (e.g., brewing, cosmetics) are retooling facilities to create in-demand products.

Telework: an arrangement with staying power

According to Ranstand, work in the fields of customer service (e.g., call centers), telecommunications, and technology/IT is surging. All of these fields support individuals to work remotely from home, a trend that appears to have staying power in the COVID Economy.

As the pandemic has so forcefully illustrated, much work can in fact be done remotely. In fact, US economists Jonathan Dingel and Brent Neiman have found that 37% of American jobs can be done at home. Australian researchers Mehmet Ulubasoglu and Kursat Onder report similar findings, claiming that 39% of all jobs in Australia – 41% full-time and nearly 35% of part-time – are conducive to remote work.

Furthermore, remote work is not only possible—it may hold a number of unanticipated benefits. A survey conducted by the start-up network Founder’s Forum provides fascinating insights into the experience of workers transitioning into teleworking arrangements. Hundreds of founders and teams revealed that:

  • More than 50% of respondents reported being more productive from home.
  • 55% of respondents reported working longer hours.
  • While respondents enjoyed increased flexibility, life-work balance, and an end to commuting, they missed opportunities to spontaneously collaborate and the ability to create work-life boundaries.
  • Most startups are currently reworking policies to accommodate for arrangements such as 3-5 days of remote work a week.

If remote working indeed becomes a new norm, demand will surely increase for solutions that enhance its benefits and address its challenges. Ranstand’s previously mentioned report on COVID-related job trends indicates that this demand is already high: “With a large portion of the Canadian workforce migrating to working from home, help desk, networking and data security professionals have been working around the clock to ensure everyone is able to access the tools they need and work from home securely.”

Remote working allows for flexibility in working spaces.
Remote working allows for flexibility in working spaces.

PanSafe & Teleworking Opportunities: supporting a new normal

With a COVID-19 vaccine nowhere in sight and the promise of an increased frequency of global pandemics in the future, PanSafe promises to be an enduringly important industry. Likewise, the viability and desirability of remote working is paving the way for telework to become a new industry norm.

In this environment, opportunities abound for innovators. For example, if the experiences of Founder’s Forums’ respondents offer any indication of emerging markets, then solutions for problems like maintaining work-life boundaries are needed. Could these solutions arise from the fields of psychology, interior design, technology—or industries previously unimagined?

You & the COVID Economy: Finding Your Way Forward

the COVID Economy

You & the COVID Economy: Finding Your Way Forward

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has seen the collapse of key business operations across many industries. International travel and hotel occupancy have drastically decreased, with many countries closing their borders. Restaurant and café turnover across the globe has also dropped dramatically, and a large proportion of workers are now working from home.

While the full impact of this disruption is unknown, what’s clear is that the ‘COVID Economyis the new backdrop for business strategies into the future.

the COVID Economy

The COVID Economy: Getting Oriented

Although there are many hoping that the economy will “snap back to normal”, the fact remains that the pre-COVID economy was already experiencing a downturn – with weak wages growth, rising inequality, increasing unemployment, low interest rates and growing debt.  We were staring down the barrel of an impending economic collapse. The pandemic has merely tipped the scales.

Many businesses were already in a transition to the “Future of Work”, with some undertaking significant digital transformations, including the deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies.

At the same time, investments in the “square-metre economy”—a system in which economic activity is tied to physical infrastructure—continued, despite the immense growth in digital businesses and mobility. The COVID pandemic has served to re-frame some of those investments and accelerate others.

In all likelihood, COVID-19 is here for the long haul. Like the flu, there may not ever be a vaccine that is 100 per cent effective; it’s much more likely that we’ll develop more effective treatments for it.

But as with other times of major upheaval, there is a way forward. There always is.

The Opportunities: There for the Taking

So far, we have witnessed a rapid movement to telework. We’ve learned that almost 40 per cent of jobs can be done from home. Some organisations even note productivity improvements with these arrangements.

Teleworkability in Australia | Source: The Conversation
Teleworkability in Australia | Source: The Conversation

There has also been more use of online digital services, whether it be increased online video conferencing, retail purchases, usage of entertainment streaming services, or greater uptake of educational and training courses on online platforms.

We’ve also seen the pharmaceutical industry come under the spotlight, with greater investments towards research and innovation. However, this has not come without its challenges. The pandemic has forced the pharmaceutical industry to become more responsive and re-think their supply chains and operational strategies to keep up with increased demand.

General trends indicate a reorganization of assets and supply chains, and an urgency towards greater uptake of digital services, robotics, and automation.

The Risks: Clear & Present Danger

Understanding the risks is crucial in navigating the financial and operational challenges of the COVID Economy. The spread of the person-to-person contagion has increased operational risks in high-density spaces and cities. It has disrupted global supply chains and severely restricted international travel – with huge impacts to the tourism and travel industries.

Businesses that have relied on and invested into commercial real estate in cities face new risks posed by co-locating workers in high- density offices. The costs of complying with new safe-distancing and sanitisation regulations also loom large.

Source: SEM VAN DER WAL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock
Source: SEM VAN DER WAL/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

Meanwhile, collateralized Loan Obligations (CLOs), though inherently risky, have become much more precarious with COVID-19. Falls in corporate revenue increase the odds of firms being unable to meet their financial obligations.

These structural disruptions are just a few examples of developments that will require new strategic responses from organisations.

Act Now: The Quick Wins

Businesses that adapt quickly to the COVID Economy will leverage new opportunities and see immediate benefits to their organisation, communities, and people.

The quick wins are there for the taking. They just require a COVID Economy mind-set, skillset, and strategic understanding of the emergent conditions.

With a re-focus on distributed services and local production, asset management and supply chains will need more resilience and agility to adapt to geo-shocks. Distributed workforces will help reduce the risk of these shocks. These workforces should be supported through an emerging telework market – with localised services in meeting the technological, accommodation (e.g., localised work hubs), and the hospitality needs of these businesses.

We can also expect to see a shift towards increased consumption of new pan-safe (i.e., pandemic safety) products and services that support a COVID Economy lifestyle and meet business sanitisation standards.

Spread the Word

Adjusting to the COVID Economy means joining the right networks. No single individual or organisation can support this changing market alone. It will require an ecosystem of suppliers and clients, both upstream and downstream communities, to support a smooth transition to the COVID Economy.

So spread the word: the COVID Economy is here to stay!

On The Pod

Online Learning - on the pod

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