The Covid19 crisis is the end of an era. We are all in lockdown now, socially-distancing and working from home. Living a life that just a few weeks ago would have not been conceivable.
The last few weeks forced more social change on all of us than the last few decades together. And this crisis is just starting. A new normal is evolving. It is impossible to tell how things will look like at the other end of it all.
So why not look at the glass half full, for a change. What could be the upsides of this extraordinary tragedy?
- The earth gets a breather. This to me is the most obvious one. Pictures are emerging from all over the world of nature doing just fine. Global Emissions are down. The planet gets a well-deserved break. Maybe, just maybe, we’ll all find a new resolve to keep it this way?
- We’ll evolve a new take on consumption. As we are locked down, making do with less, perhaps it will dawn to us that we actually don’t need all that crap we used to think we do? The economic recession will also hit us all hard so perhaps we all slow down for a minute and re-prioritize?
- A new appreciation for social support systems. Images of overworked, underpaid health workers struggling with inadequate equipment and poor infrastructure are emerging from everywhere in the world. It sinks in that inadequate health systems are a multiplier factor for the negative impact of this crisis. In particular in the western world we have been taking medical infrastructure for granted, even as we stood there as governments continuously defunded it to fund what exactly? This crisis is a wake-up call. Maybe, just maybe we will demand from our governments a reshuffling in priorities and a long due recognition that we are all stronger together?
- A new appreciation of community. While crises seem to bring out the worst in people, they actually mostly bring up the best in us. As social distancing becomes the new normal, perhaps people will rediscover the value of community and social capital? Neighbors supporting neighbors.
- Local businesses as centers of their community. Local businesses have been squeezed and crowded out of communities by hyper-efficient corporations. Leveraging economies of scale and global, cut-throat supply chains, the latter won with convenience and price. In times like this though, global corporations struggle to add real value to the communities. Meanwhile, the mum and pop store, with deep links into the community is easily adapting: flexible schedules, social-distancing-compliant deliveries. Better stock due to local supply chains. A human at the other end of a phone call. Small things that matter the world now. The truth is that many small businesses will be hit hard by the recession, but maybe, just maybe they will prove more resilient in the long run.
- A reset of growth-obsessed economics. Make no mistake. The global economy will take a mighty hit. We are looking at a deep, hard recession. Corona didn’t really cause this recession, it merely accelerated it. The truth is the economic fundamentals are messed up. Also, there is a whole new generation coming of age now that frankly never really bought into the GDP-based, growth-obsessed economics. Maybe, this will be the trigger for a global leap into new business models? Maybe the hard times coming for corporations world-wide will allow new models to be experimented with, some of which perhaps taking over?
- More power to local supply chains. The most anti-fragile businesses will be the ones with local, small supply chains that have baked-in redundancy. Perhaps we will see more investments and innovation in local production and supply chains, and, perhaps a new era of prosperity for smaller, locally connected business models?
- The nature of work will change radically. The full half of the glass here is probably related to flexibility for employees and a redefinition of benefits. Perhaps more healthcare? More support for families with children?
- A new chance for gender equality. You know that family where dad used to be at work all day while mom was minding the children? Now, both are minding the children, in a small, crowded flat. Perhaps, out of necessity, gender roles are finally shifting for good?
- The reinvention of content. Media and publishing have been ready for disruption for a while now. The whole model is broken: the internet’s fundamental flaw is that it runs on ads and because of that, the price of good content is having to put up with bad advertising and loss of privacy. This model sucks. As the recession sets in, corporations will cut their marketing budgets, even while people stuck at home will increase their consumption of all sorts of content: long form, podcasts, audio-books, old fashion books, games. The ones that were not yet savvy with their ad-blockers will clue up quickly. This will accelerate the shift and will provide a huge tailwind to innovators who are working on alternative models to finance and deliver good content.
- Bonus: Education. Perhaps this crisis will also accelerate the modernization of education. Fundamentally, schools have not changed the way they teach children in generations. This, in spite of ample evidence that the alternatives to traditional teaching have significant advantages. Now everyone is in alternative education: at home with their parents, working on projects more or less autonomously. Maybe, just maybe we will all come out of this with a larger appetite for change?
In what other ways do you think the glass is half full? What else gives you hope in these strange times?
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