Our most recent MEG digital meetup had us focusing, naturally, on how, and why, business models should evolve to meet the challenges of an economic and social landscape that has altered rapidly and radically.
The impact of COVID-19 has, in many business circumstances, been abrupt. It has felt like applying an emergency stop.
The challenge then is to try and maintain momentum, or some sense of it, when normal rules of commerce no longer apply.
Otherwise, the risk is that entropy sets in, and that when the economy does begin to revive, some businesses will be too far gone to re-start themselves.
There are various aspects to maintaining momentum.
Two key ones centre on:
- Learning and Development
Keeping communications open during lockdown is essential for businesses looking to maintain momentum. This might involve internal and external meetings via Zoom, or putting out content via social media platforms such as LinkedIn.
Already, there has been a growth in digital networking, and various online coronavirus information centres from organisations such as CBI and Greater Manchester’s Business Growth Hub.
Businesses may wish to take advantage of enforced downtime by focusing on learning and development, and organising online training courses for employees who are confined to their own homes.
Two of MEG’s members specialise in specialist e-learning solutions and online courses: Virtual Training Centre and Training Sensei.
Should We Evolve?
If the response to COVID-19 is to have any kind of positive lasting legacy, it will come from how businesses adapt and then build on these changes once normal service has more or less resumed – whatever that will look like.
For example, coworking, as a term, first came into use at the end of the 1990s, but has only really made a widespread impact in the UK from 2005 onwards.
However, agile working has now been forced, by the coronavirus crisis, to go further.
Working from home (WFH) is now the new norm for many people in industries which can support it.
Will this, therefore, lead a to re-assessment of how many of us work in future, and help to relieve pressure on creaking transport infrastructures and, ultimately, help to repurpose our town and city centres?
Realistically, WFH cannot apply across the board, and the other significant shift in perception that coronavirus has caused is how we view key workers in the NHS, and across the supply chain.
In this, COVID-19 is not a leveller, but rather highlights that often those in more precarious and lower paid roles are in the frontline when it comes to supporting the economy and the wellbeing of everyone else.
Will We Re-set the Clock, and Do We Want To?
Are we seeing the beginnings of a radical evolution, and re-evaluation, of how we work and live, or will things revert to more familiar patterns once this crisis is over?
From an investment perspective, investors might be wisest to try and ride out the turbulent financial markets, providing they have the risk capacity to do so.
As MEG member Calvin Husbands, of Heavenly Finances, points out, often investing is contrary to behavioural instinct.
But will this same kind of instinct make most of us want to return to the familiar ways of doing business, post-coronavirus?
Already, across much of the UK, people have rediscovered a sense of shared community, paradoxically at a time when they are physically separated from each other.
Will this endure, and could it contribute to an evolution in business that leaves a positive legacy?
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