Growth-dependent frameworks drove the global economy, but COVID-19 pandemic is about to change it entirely and move towards a distribution driven model, which some experts had hinted long before. The time has come to navigate the uncharted territory that we are in today for which people in many countries believe that businesses are better prepared than governments to take the plunge. This is evident from the way companies have rapidly implemented policies about work from home, flexi-time, health, and travel and have improvised operations to support local communities. The change revolves around businesses establishing a new social contract with the society based on principles of distribution and sharing. It observes Joseph F Lopresti, who envisions that this contract will outlast the crisis for reasons stated below.
Joseph F Lopresti sees opportunities in addressing inequality
For long, our society has faced a crisis of inequality, which is now laid bare due to the pandemic as the divide between the workforce. Knowledge -economy workers who are well-cared by companies, have the privilege of working from home and stay protected while those in low-paid jobs that cannot be done remotely face the risks like more exposure to the virus or pay loss. Technology is driving the divide by creating new opportunities for well-educated professionals; the automation push is relegating low-skill work into home health services and retail sectors with low pay benefits.
Leading tech companies have come forward to plug this gap by announcing full-time pay for hourly wage workers like cleaning staff, food service, and security. Various businesses are creating funds to compensate for quarantined and sick workers.
Focus on local business operations
The effects of coronavirus raging across the globe are visible locally as places of gathering like restaurants, pubs, churches, gyms, stores; museums are all shut down. Businesses are trying their best to prevent their cities from turning into ghost towns. Italian fashion and luxury brands are funding community organizations and hospitals in Milan that have been devasted by the coronavirus. Small businesses in San Francisco, are receiving financial aid from Salesforce, the city-based company. Homeowners in Australia, the UK, and Canada are entitled to mortgage relief offered by banks.
Boost for open sourcing and open collaboration
Amid coronavirus pandemic, sharing knowledge and information has become the order of the day, and businesses have quickly transitioned to sharing resources and knowledge. Video conferencing services have become free or discounted, and publications are making coronavirus information widely available by removing paywalls. The template of education is changing due to the popularity of open online courses. These actions by companies are ushering in new ways of working together that empathizes with solving common problems rather than growth objectives in the short term.
With governments rolling out various measures amounting to trillions of dollars, the focus is not merely on stimulating growth at any cost but also on addressing a wider range of objectives like improving worker protections, public health, and local resilience.
Companies and policymakers who have realized the limits of growth have taken a leading role in testing alternative approaches.