When we look back on this moment in years to come, will it mark a turning point in the relationship between business and society? What should that relationship look like in the future?
I believe the crisis with Covid-19 is re-connecting society to what is essential and this has a direct impact in what business should focus to attend to these demands. The scope of business has been amplified as well, since it has become more clear than ever that it is not possible to have a healthy business in a sick (now literally) society. The businesses have to challenge the boundaries of their responsibility with the wellbeing of the communities where they operate.
How will Covid-19 shape the future of work?
It has definitely catalysed many changes that have been happening in the past years. It has pushed all of us to challenge the limitations of online meetings and home-office. They still have limitations, but they are definitely more effective than one would imagine four months ago. This will foster a new work experience, much more hybrid, with many online components and a few in-person meetings that will be valued more than ever. People will honour their in-person time together to build and strengthen their relationships and leave tasks and more ‘practical’ work to be done virtually.
Is the pandemic accelerating workplace processes in terms of remote working, collaboration and digitalisation?
It has done it already. Many barriers, legal limitations and preconceived ideas about remote working and digitalisation were rapidly overcome due to the pandemic. Collaboration is being boosted virtually and locally as well when people find out that their relationship with neighbours and local businesses are more relevant than they imagined in the past.
Is there a silver lining? Has society responded to this moral test by putting people before profit in a way that it didn’t with the test of climate change and inequality?
This crisis, maybe due to its intensity in a short period of time, has definitely boosted solidarity and collaboration more than climate change and inequality (that many believe can be addressed more slowly than they should). In Brazil, businesses have donated twice as much in three months than they had done in the whole 2019. One organisation alone has donated more than R$1bn (about USD 200m) – the largest single donation in such a short period in the history of Brazil. So their perception of what is their responsibility has definitely changed, the doubt that is still around this is for how long this change will remain.
What have been the lesser-publicised challenges of this crisis for businesses? Have you faced any difficulties that you feel are unique to your work?
We have seen that cashflow is really the main challenge for most impact driven businesses that we support in our Impact Hub Network in Brazil and in most countries where we are based. The level of the challenge varies depending on the local ecosystem and availability of capital and public support, but this has being the main challenge. Within Impact Hub about 70% of the more than 100 Impact Hubs spread around the world have developed significantly their non-space based programs that allow them to keep operating during the pandemic, however the ones that were more dependent on space based revenues are being hit significantly by this crisis and trying to reinvent themselves.
What have you personally learnt from this crisis? Have you experienced any business/personal changes for the better?
Personally, this crisis was positive to catalyse the changes I had to do and remind me how cultivating emotional and spiritual intelligences is so important when we have to face a crisis as this one. I also reconnected with nature with much more intensity, moved from an apartment to a house and redesigned my working schedule so that I can fly and travel much less in the future.
This interview is part of a series of interviews conducted as part of our ongoing partnership with the Good Business Festival – https://thegoodbusinessfestival.com/journal. A section from this interview appeared in Issue 2 of the journal.