Sustainability Lessons We Learned From COVID-19
2020 will go down in history as the game-changer of the modern world. The COVID-19 pandemic has put the world’s crisis management skills to the test, and in many ways, we’ve failed. We can see now just how important it is to build a society and economy that is resilient, fair, and sustainable.
While responding to this global crisis, world leaders have had to rethink their and adjust their energy and resource use to stay afloat. Keep reading to learn three key takeaways for professionals in the field of energy and sustainability to use as they recover from COVID-19.
Be Ready for Trouble
Have a Mission
It’s obvious to us now just how easily a global crisis can thwart hundreds of years of human development, from medicine to farming to transportation to social structure. Future crises will probably have a similar impact—especially crises related to climate change. Whether it’s another health crisis or some other disaster, we know that these kinds of problems will keep on coming. After all, as 9 of the 15 indicators of global climate instability are already in motion.
In a way, our response to COVID-19 has been a global test run for future catastrophes—successes and failures here can teach companies how to stay healthy and resilient moving forward. Energy efficiency, data collection, carbon footprint size—fine-tuning these things now will give businesses a head-start on keeping their environmental impact low and their system intact, no matter what happens next.
Some can already see how this global crisis can be an opportunity for growth. Just look at Faurecia, who decided to partner with Schneider Electric and work toward carbon neutrality throughout the pandemic. What a perfect way to seize the day!
Have A Mission
The problems business leaders face are only getting more complicated. Executives have to handle more curveballs now than ever before. The key to success is to have a mission—a guiding sense of purpose for when the going gets tough. So it shouldn’t be a surprise to hear that sustainable businesses have been outperforming their peers. Companies that are careful to value their employees, customers, communities and environment will think outside the box to protect the things that matter to them.
Businesses with a mission will also focus more and more on diversity. COVID has shown us how dangerous single-revenue stream businesses are. We all know that this world has limits—overinvesting in one type of growth will eventually lead to a dead end. Businesses need to make sustainability a top priority, or risk falling apart in the next big crisis.
We know that the new normal is still filled with uncertainty and risk. Things we learn today could be useless tomorrow. It’s important to stay flexible: to go with the flow and adjust to things as they happen.
Everyone continued to have work to do while responding to COVID-19. Even Disney, an incredibly profitable global corporation that’s still facing a loss of $1 Billion compared to last year, will have to adjust their old systems if they want to keep up in a post-COVID world.
Technological advancements are more important than ever before. Can you imagine working from home without a laptop? Without Google? Organizations who were up-to-date with their technology before the pandemic have had a much easier time moving online, giving them a competitive advantage. Twitter, for example, was one of the first companies to establish a work-from-home model at the beginning of the pandemic. Seeing how successful the new system was, Twitter says that it will continue to offer work-from-home options after the COVID-19 crisis is over.
As sales plummeted at the start of COVID, restaurants became grocers, cosmetic manufacturers started producing hand sanitizer, and clothing companies learned to produce masks. Businesses made these changes not only because their old product or service wasn’t in demand anymore, but because they knew it was the right thing to do. Moving forward, savvy businesses will build flexible, digital strategies into their normal systems to stay ready for the next catastrophe.
”Changing times can imperil even the most successful companies . . . you must embrace the notion that when faced with tough times your goal must not be merely to survive but to succeed, and success comes through leadership.
Bridget van Kralingen, IBM
The New Normal: Build Back Better
Our world may never go back to “business as usual.” For organizations, this means we could see some major transformations. The lessons the COVID-19 pandemic have taught us can be applied to building back differently—and better.
Radical transformation is possible, and a crisis can be the perfect moment to embrace the challenge. Just think of IBM, who reinvented itself from a products company to a services company, defying expectations and building an unshakeable business as a result.
Change can happen faster and have a bigger impact than we expect, but our struggles with COVID-19 today are preparing us for our future. Amazing things will be possible if we can learn to let go of our old ways and commit to the new normal.
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