The covid-19 pandemic has unleashed adjustments that appeared unthinkable just some months in the past. In February, it appeared unthinkable your complete white-collar workforce of many international locations would quickly be working solely from dwelling. It appeared unthinkable air journey would plummet by 96%, or tens of millions of migrant employees in India could be compelled to undertake a herculean exodus, strolling 1000’s of miles to their dwelling villages. In fact, covid-19 and the extraordinary response weren’t actually unthinkable. Epidemiologists had lengthy warned it was solely a matter of time earlier than such a catastrophe struck. And although the disaster appears to have been with us endlessly, the fact is the pandemic remains to be in early days. Extra unthinkable adjustments await.
This content material was produced by EY. It was not written by MIT Expertise Evaluation’s editorial workers.
Understanding the pandemic’s affect calls for scanning for dangers and drawing insights from a variety of domains. EY convened greater than 100 leaders world wide—from futurists to CEOs—in digital periods to develop a far-sighted view, think about the unthinkable, and, crucially, establish the steps enterprise leaders have to construct into their occupied with the long run. The discussions had been guided by the EY Megatrends framework, which is designed to reveal enterprise leaders to traits and forces far outdoors their standard scope of research.
The outcome? Leaders anticipate far-reaching adjustments, however, critically, see a chance to form the world for higher. It is a high-level snapshot of the post-pandemic future they envision (read the full report). However at EY, we’re additionally difficult you to think about unthinkables and take into account key questions for a greater working world. Lastly, we provide rules to information leaders steering their organizations by this time of unprecedented uncertainty.
A rebalanced international order
The steadiness of energy and affect can be realigned as US-China relations turn into much more fraught. The pandemic is additional eroding multinational establishments, making a vacuum of worldwide management. This might trigger a return to multipolarity, with an expanded function for Europe or for smaller international locations whose status was enhanced by their efficient pandemic response.
Covid-19 can even advance the backlash in opposition to globalization amid the sharpest discount in worldwide flows (e.g., commerce, funding, individuals) in trendy historical past. With vulnerabilities in provide chains uncovered, we are able to anticipate redundancy and resilience to be constructed into them on the expense of some effectivity. Manufacturing will come nearer to dwelling markets, boosting the development towards regionalization and re-localization.
Labor mobility has fallen sharply for the reason that begin of the pandemic, as governments have clamped down on journey and immigration. However even because the pandemic reduces the movement of individuals, it allows a special idea of labor mobility. If individuals can’t relocate for work, work will relocate for individuals.
Think about the unthinkable: May we see the US greenback displaced because the world’s reserve forex?
A greater working world: How are you restructuring your international provide chain for resilience and suppleness?
Extra equitable societies and economies
Covid-19 laid naked weaknesses in social security nets and can probably drive a reckoning with rising inequality. Social disparities between the politically left and proper, young and old, wealthy and poor, have widened. Staff are demanding higher well being safeguards, advantages, and pay. Authorities reforms in response may embody recognizing undocumented employees, investing in health-care capability and even introducing common primary incomes.
Sustained protests in opposition to systemic racism have swept throughout the US, with echoes in different international locations. Whereas our periods didn’t deal with the subject as a result of they predated the protests, we expect it’s no coincidence that is occurring through the pandemic: Individuals experiencing a systemic reset may additionally be extra inclined to consider correcting systemic racism. The increasing Black Lives Matter motion could also be a harbinger of elevated motion on problems with social justice.
Covid-19 will essentially reshape cities. Well being considerations will drive large metropolis residents to suburbs and small cities, whereas distant work will make transferring out of costly metropolis facilities more and more possible. These shifts have profound implications, affecting every part from tax revenues to city planning and schooling.
Think about the unthinkable: May common primary incomes turn into actual in some societies? How wouldn’t it affect your group?
A greater working world: How will your organization lead in addressing the intertwined problems with well being, earnings inequality, and racism?
Remodeled companies and markets
Distant work is right here to remain, accelerating the arrival of a long-anticipated development: the delinking of expertise from place. Corporations will recruit expertise globally, convening the perfect groups for tasks moderately than sustaining standing headcount. New expertise metrics and rewards can be wanted—from onboarding to succession planning—with emphasis on empathy and tender abilities. Since sustaining company tradition turns into even tougher with a take away workforce, firms might have to appoint chief tradition officers.
Covid-19 additionally accelerated two traits driving change in enterprise fashions: digital transformation and the company shift to long-term worth. With digital and digital changing bodily, adoption of automation, synthetic intelligence, and augmented actuality/digital actuality will surge. Successfully deploying computing energy, bandwidth, cloud, and cybersecurity will outline winners. The pandemic has additionally put human welfare and sustainability entrance and heart. Shoppers will prioritize companies demonstrating a long-term worth agenda in tradition, goal, and actions.
Think about the unthinkable: May company campuses and central enterprise districts be hollowed out? How would possibly they be repurposed?
A greater working world: How will your company tradition drive success within the post-pandemic world?
Modified particular person and family habits
Amid social distancing, individuals are counting on social media greater than ever. In the event that they keep inside their filter bubbles this might worsen polarization and diminish societal belief. As confidence in authorities decays due to mismanaged pandemic responses, belief will probably shift to the native degree.
Consumption has declined sharply amid the pandemic, due to a deep recession and historic unemployment. Households are partaking in additional conscious consumption, specializing in sustainable and important purchases—probably an everlasting shift.
The long-term toll on psychological well being of social isolation, distant work, and financial insecurity may have impacts akin to post-traumatic stress dysfunction; but, the brand new give attention to psychological well being might cut back stigma and enhance availability of assist companies.
Think about the unthinkable: Will well being certificates be required for residence in sure communities?
A greater working world: How will your enterprise mannequin anticipate post-pandemic client habits?
Guiding rules for leaders
The pandemic has unleashed a world of uncertainty. It may really feel difficult to ascertain what the subsequent month will deliver, not to mention the subsequent 12 months. How do you proceed? We imagine a number of guiding rules can assist leaders chart their path by the pandemic and past:
- Plan for the unthinkable. “Unthinkable” situations are now not dismissible; they need to be a core a part of your strategic planning course of.
- Scan—and wait. We’ll probably see large swings in public-health outcomes, financial recoveries, investor sentiment, political stability, public coverage responses, and extra. Constantly monitor the state of affairs and scan broadly, figuring out the essential metrics and tipping factors in your group.
- Be versatile—and transfer rapidly. The problem is to construct flexibility, so you may transfer rapidly when the time is true. Adjustments catalyzed by the disaster ought to facilitate this, whether or not the transfer from bodily to digital or the creation of extra versatile provide chains. Adopting these shifts won’t solely show you how to climate the disaster; it may also provide you with extra flexibility to reply rapidly on the planet that lies past it.