“I have never seen the sky so blue in my hometown Shanghai.”

“We stopped shaking hands and hugging in our group of friends. One feels strange about it, but it seems the best for all of us.”

“No more meetings, no more travel. Only video calls. My work became easier in a way.”

“My business suffers because import from China is impossible. There is not enough production and there are no empty containers for transport. It is all a mess.”

“It’s finally possible again to see the sun rising in Angkor Wat without thousands of tourists around.”

“I am not scared about getting ill, but I am scared that I give it to someone.”

After a few months, it is clear that COVID-19 (CoronaVirus Disease 2019) leaves a greater impact on the world as we know it than just the health consequences. COVID-19 disrupts our existence. But this disruption is not only negative. Crises are often catalysts of change. Crises impose a re-evaluation of the actions, structures and systems we have become depended on. COVID-19 seems capable of changing the behaviour of people. Let’s look at a few positive consequences of the COVID-19 crisis.

Working with reduced footprint and in less hours

To keep the spreading of the virus to a minimum, companies impose habit changes in ways of working that can also be a benefit for people and planet in the long run. Working from home, video conferencing, avoiding unnecessary travel create more time for people in terms of work/life balance. We are re-considering our priorities. In the long run this can lead to more remote working and reduced travel. With a positive impact on the climate.

Dialing up the use of Robots and AI

The move towards using more robots and AI to substitute manual labour is unstoppable, but the COVID-19 situation seems to accelerate the urge for implementation. The virus has been a wake-up call for supply chain managers and risk managers across the world. While there will be an initial negative effect on some labour segments, robots and AI increase productivity, lower production costs, and do create new jobs in the tech sector. However, the human consequences of this will ultimately ask for a fundamental revision on human resources and labour in the 21st century, that can’t be fully fathomed at the moment.

A temporarily greener world

Pollution levels across China have decreased tremendously. Two months into the COVID-19 crisis, reports started to appear in mainstream media that showed Nasa maps with falling levels of nitrogen dioxide. The decline in air pollution levels coincided with restrictions imposed on transportation and business activities. This is a positive consequence, but most probably not forever. If production picks up, the pollution will be back.

Local to local businesses thriving 

With supply chains slowing down or coming to a stop, more than ever the world’s reliance on China as “the factory of the world” is starting to be felt. A trend that will most likely follow the coronavirus outbreak will be a further acceleration of the shift towards shorter supply chains on personal, community and industry levels. Shorter supply chains are seen as key in increasing sustainability through the reduction of transportation costs and consequently of CO2 emissions.

Without downplaying the fears and with respect for everybody that currently suffers from the outbreak, the implications of COVID-19 are not only negative. And who knows… they might even offer us a push to a better, more sustainable future.

As a B Corp, we at Innate Motion are always looking towards making business a force for good and maybe this crisis will be the rise of new opportunities for businesses to reinvent itself.

 

By: Ben Bogaerts