COVID-19: There's no going back, resilience group warns

The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent lockdown has changed the business landscape "irrevocably" and there will be "no return" to business as usual. This is the stark warning from business resilience group, Resilience First, which is urging businesses to use the 'forced reset' to reformulate responses to newly recalibrated systemic risks.

A unique opportunity for enhancing resilience in the round could be lost if not realised and actioned now, the group warned, on the publication of its new post-COVID roadmap for businesses.

Author of the guide and Resilience First executive director, Robert Hall, said the process of changing businesses for the better should be transformational, and requires a "deliberate process of change management through good leadership and effective communication", no matter the size of the business.

"Most companies and industries can expect to rework their business models and have to restructure, probably with fewer people and a sizeable reallocation of capital. If done wisely, reconfiguration will enable businesses to be more agile and adaptable to future challenges, especially the existential threat of climate change," he explained.

"With the arrival of COVID-19 we are facing unprecedented challenges to our economic prosperity and societal well-being," said Resilience First board member, Lord Harris of Haringey. "The challenges demand and are receiving equally unprecedented responses. The measures can be expected to be long running and generate radical changes in the ways we do business and our patterns of behaviour around the workplace."

Commenting on the new guide, Lord Harris said he hoped it would contribute to the overall approach to building resilience in businesses and the communities which constitute customers, employees and income. "We are all in this together and better resilience will enable us to bounce forward to the new normal, not back to traditional ways," he added.

Making changes (Source: Resilience Guide for Our New World, Resilience First)

Recommendations included in the guide:

The labour market of the future is likely to be more fluid and the traditional paths into, and progression within, professions will change to meet new demands. Technical developments may quickly out-date competencies gained in qualifications that seemed cutting edge at the time: re-education is crucial.

There will be growing expectations on companies to meet new standards and performance in environmental, social and governance arenas. Stakeholders and shareholders alike will embrace the principle of stewardship with greater ethical obligations and improved levels of sustainable development in the face of a growing range of risks.

The momentum to deliver a green resilient recovery on the back of the pandemic has received a much-needed boost. The drive to achieve greater decarbonisation has been accelerated and future investments in both software and hardware will be steered by this agenda.

There will be new built and natural environments as well as resilient low-carbon infrastructures to maximise productivity and wellness. Better mental health and community well-being (social capital) can expect to be as important as greater connectivity and creativity.

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