COVID-19 is predicted to stay for years, even with the most sophisticated testing and contact tracing. Cities around the world will suffer waves of infectious outbreaks until immunity takes hold or antiviral therapists and vaccines are developed. Yet, cities cannot stay locked down forever. If they do, spiralling food shortages, rising prices, mounting unemployment rate, economic disintegration and social and political unrest will follow. Owing to this reason, governments are gradually reopening their cities. Wuhan was one of the first to do so, shifting from suspension to full restart after 75 days in strict lockdown.
While many cities are reopening, they will not return to anything approximating business-as-usual in the coming years. In the hardest-hit cities, extensive precautions and restrictions will remain in place indefinitely. These will vary in intensification and invasiveness.
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The post-COVID world will be shaped by decisions being made in the crucible of the fight against the virus. Profound uncertainty about the virus and its trajectory, and about how other countries will respond, only magnifies the importance of leadership. At the very least, leaders across the world must cooperate to fight against the virus, collectively eliminating it without involving political issues.
Some immediate changes brought about by COVID-19 will be more obvious than others, and the longer the delays in immunisation, the more lasting they and other transformations will be. Most urban transport hubs such as airports, train and bus stations will feature temperature checks, health screening and crowd-control measures. Places where people interact, from office buildings to hospitals, will be retrofitted to minimise physical proximity. Retail outlets that do not go digital might not survive. More positively, many cities will become more pedestrianised and accessible for walking and bikes.
In terms of workplaces, experts predicted that the biggest challenge business and HR leaders will face is how to best maintain the new work condition, whether to allow remote or in-house, how to give access to those who choose remote working, how to transition from one circumstance and another without decreasing employees’ morale, etc.
Jordan Parsons, CEO of Benbria, in Keynote Search said that creating and maintaining strong corporate cultures and high-performance organisations in lieu of face-to-face meetings is the norm post-COVID-19 and might be the biggest challenge businesses, especially those that never enacted remote working. The key to success in this is to focus on giving more flexibility moving forward and depending on each worker’s role which impacts corporate culture and performance.
Following the trend of this new normal, business and HR leaders should also be ready in these focuses:
Read also: Improving Employee Well-being During the Ongoing COVID-19 Crisis: Five Focus Areas for Leaders in Asia