“Back to business” or “broaden our horizon”?

I just attended a really good webinar called “Back to business – how companies should organize a new start”. It was all about the planning, the communication and the step-by-step execution for a new start after the shutdown. This is an important problem which, from an economic point of view, requires speed in preparation and implementation as soon as the danger situation allows, and which needs to be planned well in advance.

As Christian Keese, CEO of the digital consultancy Axel Springer put it perfectly, the danger from AIDS resulted in “safer sex” …and the corona situation should and probably will result in “safer work”. Experience with Corona clearly shows that business and health must pursue the same goals in the future.

And the Back to Business Plan is based on these same goals – with topics such as transport to/from work, adequate use of office space, general health measures at the workplace, canteen use, working time programs, communication, school/day care center, etc. based on a quick survey, with lots of good ideas.

The goal would be that all companies develop this type of plan, share them with other companies to learn best practices and then communicate the results in their own company. For this to work, two things would be essential: clear communication and unambiguous transparency.

A good initiative and an important approach to get our economy and our companies up and running again. A big thank you to the initiators!

Yet I find myself asking, whether this situation, this potentially unique opportunity, demands that we think far beyond simply going “back to business”. That it is, in fact, time to broaden our horizon.

What do we want to, and indeed have to, learn from the Corona experience? How can we build on the positive experiences we’ve made in terms of:

•               working from home,

•               widespread video conferencing instead of business trips,

•               trust instead of control,

•               cooperation instead of competition,

•               strengthening systemically relevant occupations so that people are motivated to practice them,

•               a reasonable work-life blend,

•               better preparing managers to face such challenges.

What do we have to change to avoid similar situations in the future:

•               to avoid being dependent on a few suppliers,

•               to make the globalization of distribution channels more meaningful,

•               to change non-transparent inventory and distribution systems,

•               to achieve a sensible balance between local and international offerings, particularly in the food industry,

•               to build companies able to self-sustain and maintain liquidity for longer periods so that the State is not forced to step-in so quickly,

•               to seriously and honestly take responsibility for a more balanced world-wide distribution of goods and raw materials ,

•               to ensure that every child receives the vaccinations and medicines they need, and no one faces starvation anymore.

There is so much more that we should rethink. Corona is a plague, no question about it, but the problems that have come to light are largely homemade, and we have all played our part.

Let’s see Corona as an opportunity to do things better and as a challenge to make sense of what has changed. We should not be satisfied with “safer work” as the only consequence of Corona.

In this sense – let’s not get back to business but rather let’s “navigate to new shores”!

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