Let me preface this article by saying that I’m not looking into a crystal ball. This is quite broad but this is just an optimistic view of what could come after our current situation. I’m merely exploring concepts that we at The Mindful Collective have been discussing for the past year and half. In an effort to stay upbeat about all of this I’ll be exploring some positives that may come on the other side of this pandemic.

During the current situation we’re seeing the best and the worst of human nature from panic buying in supermarkets, airlines cashing in on stranded passengers (whilst simultaneously asking for government bail out) to local communities and small businesses coming together to help those in need. In addition to the public health aspect of the virus the economy sits right alongside it. Individuals and businesses across the world will be feeling the impact of this virus long after a vaccine is created. With that in mind here are some positive thoughts to consider when we see light at the end of the tunnel.

 

Purpose, what’s the point?

We’ve talked a lot about Purpose at The Mindful Collective. Purpose is essentially the reason why your organisation exists. Does your business have a purpose beyond the short term view of making profit? I think this takes greater meaning given the context of the situation we’re in. With many people not able to work over the coming weeks it gives time for people to hit pause and really question what work means to them. Why do we leave our homes each day and what cause are we contributing towards in our daily working lives? People are seeking greater meaning in their work, a 2018 study found that 9 Out of 10 People Are Willing to Earn Less Money to Do More-Meaningful Work. There are countless other studies conducted over the past few years, showing a growing trend towards the advantages of being a purpose-driven business from employee retention to ROI.

With vast amounts of the population hitting the great pause button on many aspects of life will this give both organisations and individuals a chance to reflect on the “why of work?” I hope to see more purpose-driven organisations than ever coming out at the end of this and that we can globally reconnect with more meaningful work that provides sustainable value for everyone.

 

Photo by Hermes Rivera on Unsplash

Can we finally address our impact on the planet now?

Who would have thought not listening to scientists would have grave repercussions? Many scientists in the field of virology and epidemiology have been saying for years that globally, we were not ready for the next epidemic that would hit us. Calls for greater funding in studying and surveillance have been made from the scientific community for years yet here we are. So why don’t we take the same bold and unprecedented action when climate scientists are doing the same? From clearer waters in the canals of Venice to reduced air pollution humanity is seeing first hand the physical impact it has from even a short term drop in its regular activity. It seems that the COVID-19 has the potential for a global conscious awakening where we realise that the challenges we face affect all of us and we have the adaptability and capability to solve these problems if we work together. The issue of sustainable business practices is one far beyond just technology and carbon zero targets, it’s also about the fundamental ideas of value, profit and company culture. There’s a lot to figure out and the problem is vastly complex but let’s hope that on the other side of this we can renew our efforts in solving a global issue that faces all of us, if businesses can quickly mobilise to fight this pandemic then this should hold true to our environmental challenges too.

 

Will we see the rise of remote working and alternative working hours? 

 

The rising popularity of remote working and alternative working hours was a topic of conversation long before the COVID-19 hit. However, with some companies forced to start the remote working experiment for the first time many may see that it is entirely possible and sometimes beneficial to work remotely. Whilst more research needs to be done into the pros and cons of remote working (See this article for an example of the type of research being conducted) Remote working could make companies realise that they can trust their staff to get the job done and allow high skilled workers who are forced into talent-dependent, densely populated cities to live a more connected and meaningful life with those closest to them. I hope that as social distancing ends we appreciate how reliant we are on social connections with family and friends and how lucky we are to spend time with loved ones. It’s not just the productivity and the work life balance aspects of remote working that may see benefit. With less people commuting to work each day in individual cars or public transport we could see a reduction in overall harmful emissions. Whilst the issue isn’t as simple as it seems and there are infrastructure and energy efficiency issues to address in peoples homes before it becomes truly sustainable I think the pros outweigh the cons and hope to see a greater symbiotic relationship between work and life over the coming years.

 

 

Photo by Micheile Henderson on Unsplash

Global recession seems all but inevitable but can we reshape our idea of value and the economic systems that comes after?

With the basic building blocks of economics being shaken up the world looks on track to suffer its next global recession (I’ll preface this part by saying I’m no economist). However, with interests rates being slashed and renewed thought on more quantitive easing many people will be worried about repeating the same policy mistakes of the 2008 economic crash. Whilst governments across the world have been quick to step in and support its people there will still be an economic recovery to go through even when people return to work. When that happens we cannot have a continuation of the status quo with government bailouts and cheap cash being thrown about for the “too big to fail” corporations of the world, many of whom are already leveraged to the hilt. Global debt stands at $250 trillion dollars, almost three and half times more than global GDP, wealth inequality is on the rise and growth is largely stagnated, something has to change.

The economic impact of COVID-19 will likely be used as a scapegoat for the suffering we are all likely to face but let’s be clear that it is the trigger, not the overall problem. We need to use this as an opportunity to re-conceptualise our ideas of value and our economic systems. It’s evident to see when push comes to shove who the people that keep our civilisation running are: emergency services (in my case our brilliant NHS here in the UK), supply chain and logistics companies, farmers, supermarket workers, social care providers and anyone else on the frontlines of the pandemic who are stepping up and keeping vital services running, providing true value that is actually needed. GDP can no longer be the measure of a country’s well being and profitability cannot be the sole measure of success for organisations of the future. Just as work is being done to measure society’s well-being with a more holistic set of indicators (such as the excellent work from organisations such as The Thriving places index here in the UK), a new system is needed for business. We cannot expect to continually grow based on a system of finite resources and its time we globally wake up to the impacts that our current model has on society and the earth as whole. We shouldn’t be selling for selling’s sake and we should rethink what we consider to be true value to us as individuals and as a collective. Value has to evolve.

What are we producing that is of true value? Is it sustainable to do so? What are the wider impacts to all of our stakeholders that we should consider? What is the true purpose of our organisation? These are all factors that should be thought out more over the coming years.

 

Could we see a rise in the amount of not-for-profit and community interest organisations as we reshape value?

Over the coming months it’s looking increasingly likely that more and more countries will go into lockdown. Those who cannot remote work for their jobs may simply have to wait out the current situation, but we’re already seeing amazingly positive moments on social media from people who aren’t working and are using their time productively to help out in their local communities. Here in the UK 500 local support groups have been set up to help those in need. Even before COVID-19 hit us there was a steady increase in the amount of not-for-profit and charity organisations establishing themselves to create an impact on communities and stakeholder groups with staff utilising their skills for a higher purpose beyond that of driving shareholder profit.

With everyone working less I’m seeing people pursue passion projects and hobbies that they’ve never had the time to do in their working lives. Our jobs can take up a significant portion of our time especially with the financial burdens in place for millions of people struggling to meet the rising costs of living. I hope people can become more altruistic during this time, our senses of local community can strengthen and people can reconnect with what is actually meaningful in their lives. Who knows, perhaps we can see an increase in the number of organisations shifting to become purpose and impact driven organisation serving their communities for mutual benefit rather than maximum profit. With so many job markets under threat it may be a chance for workers in entire industry sectors to shift focus to something they’re truly passionate about. With concepts like temporary universal basic income being seriously considered could people switch to problem solving and community serving interests when some of the financial pressures of our current society are lifted? Will it be hard to return to our previous state after making that jump? Time will tell…

 

Photo by D L on Unsplash

Above all else let’s hope we can just become more mindful… 

People will be quick to write articles, create videos, produce services that seem like they have all the answers, that deal in absolute certainty. The reality of the situation is that no one fully knows. That’s why these topics are covered as questions, thoughts to ponder on and consider the opportunities for change as we pass through this crisis. Nobody is perfect but we can be more mindful and we can change. Community activism, open collaboration and innovation can make a difference, big or small. We should all do what we can to change on the other side of this threat and consider how we can make both our work and lives more meaningful.

This is a time that can bring out the best in all of us. For us to realise we are more connected globally than ever. That we’re part of a complex system that can’t just eternally grow based on finite resources but needs to be in balance with the rest of the world and the environments around us. All of these points are interconnected, how we work, our impact on the planet, how we serve others and the models we use to govern ourselves.

Our resilience, ability to adapt and innovate can drive us not only through the worst of this virus but onto a better kind of world on the other side of it, we just need to make it happen…

Side note: If you are part of, or know of any organisation both private or public that is helping people out during this crisis then post them down in the comments below… Let’s share the positivity!