The resistance to change is well known. Institutions like Governments or families, a corporate or a community like to introduce change in tiny increments, to avoid resistance. It is not easy to discuss change in the Covid-19 pandemic world , either now or later. The simple reason is that change could potentially lead to rebellion.
Today, the entire world is living in the midst of a pandemic in which change is suddenly forced upon humanity and is forcing people to quickly change their ways of living and working.
What are the changes we have seen in 2020?
Let us look at just some of the changes happening around us mostly at the individual level.
Blurred lines during Covid-19 lockdown
Start-ups like ours had to cope with a lockdown overnight. From the organisation’s perspective, companies had to figure out how to transition employees from working in an office environment to remote-working conditions. This happened very quickly. Schools closed classroom learning. On the personal front, this meant that working mothers had to figure out how to home-school their children. Working fathers were not too far behind in this respect either.
Back to the topic of schools, teachers with several years of experience were left to figure out how to teach online, without receiving training on online pedagogy skills. Students had to become independent learners without the benefit of school and classroom interactions. Grandparents could not see their grandchildren or provide babysitting support to their working children.
Jet-setting CEOs started talking into a camera from their homes, in webinars, instead of addressing a large live audience. This meant speaking to the camera on professional topics. At the same time, they had to be mindful of whether their home décor is looking professional enough.
Remote Working with Covid-19
For those who were not used to working from home, the challenges are clear. You miss the office atmosphere. With face to face interactions suddenly being a distant dream, simple decisions now take more time. Work that could finish over a quick conversation between colleagues, now involved logging into online collaboration tools and setting up meetings in advance. One also needs to manage family members being around during the working hours. Then there also were the complaints of technology overload and technology fatigue.
Coping with Covid-19 – The disease
The scale of the problem is a first for many. Epidemics like Ebola and SARS have hit the African and Asian continents in the recent past. In Europe, since the Spanish flu, an epidemic of this scale has not happened in a long time. People are testing positive for Covid-19 in increasing numbers. The first wave hit in the beginning of 2020. Then, the second wave hit several countries later during the year. The virus is mutating, and hygiene measures are seemingly impossible to enforce at mass scale. As Heads of State stopped shaking hands, cultural norms across western nations changed overnight.
Personal suffering is a very real problem for many today. Those who have Covid-19 may have to face a very lonely disease, one that involves 10-17 days in quarantine, or in isolation. (Note the difference in the two terms. A person with a positive case of Covid-19 is placed in “isolation”. A person who is in contact with a Covid-19 positive patient is placed under “quarantine”). No touching, no warm hugs, no social contact. Even a simple task like buying groceries is hard to achieve, given the potential risks. You become a carrier and a potential danger to society for those quarantined days. This is apart from suffering with symptoms of tiredness, sore throat, fever, fatigue, and everything else Covid-19 could potentially attack the human body with.
Covid-19 causes these physically painful symptoms. It also causes mental suffering. It causes situations of immense grief for those who have lost their loved ones. There is a feeling of being overburdened for those who have been tested positive and suffer symptoms. It is also overwhelming for those who have to remain in quarantine.
Environmental Impact of Covid-19 lockdown
Firstly, protective masks discarded everywhere are polluting beaches and our oceans. Secondly, packaging from e-commerce was a problem even before Covid-19. With increased deliveries, packaging is resulting in increased plastic waste. Moreover, overflowing garbage bins are a sight for sore eyes in all urban jungles where large numbers of inhabitants are still quarantined.
Socio Economic Impact of Covid-19
Let us now look at how this pandemic has affected our socio-economic system. You only have to read these headlines. They talk about job losses and the mile long queues for food supplies in the developed world. People have been lining up for food in some of the richest countries in world. Lower income groups worldwide have experienced job-losses. Food shortages are worsening.
In the developing world, many daily wage earners saw their earnings plummet. Amongst the skilled, young graduates do not know how to land their first job. Professional sportspersons do not have games to play. Businesses closed. Start-ups wound down. The tourism sector worldwide experienced a big hit. Entertainment-based businesses are nervous. Restaurants, bars, discotheques, sports arenas saw their tables and seats go unsold.
It is not all bad news for everyone
Some people have profited from the pandemic, as Swiss investment banking reports. Swiss investment banks like Lombard Odier and UBS advise their clients on how to invest their money. These investment bankers have reported their best quarterly earnings in a decade. This means that the Covid 19 pandemic has made billionaires and their advisers richer. People like Jeff Bezos and Jack Ma saw their financial assets surge this year. (Source: Financial Times 2020)
What role has technology played in the Pandemic?
Technology has played many roles. While technology may have caused health issues for the people who over-use it, it has played other important and positive roles in the pandemic. Technology has enabled tracking of the disease to arrest its spread through mobile phone applications. It has allowed for greater communication amongst people across the globe. It has enabled services through remote-working, so that economic productivity does not come to a grinding halt. Videoconferencing tech companies that allow people to interact online verbally and visually have seen valuations zoom up. E-commerce companies are seeing their businesses do very well with increased online purchases. The pandemic has added many subscribers for online entertainment platforms like Netflix.
Watch this video from SkillUp Central on educators worldwide are keeping learning going despite Covid-19.
A Fast-changing Post Covid world
The bottom line is that the world is changing very fast with the pandemic situation. Coping mechanisms help in the short term. In the long-term, can we predict the future in a post Covid world? As humans, we are resistant to change. Ask yourselves is it fair that on the one hand we have the millionaires happy, and on the other, that poverty is increasing? Will it be a case of survival of the fittest or should we be thinking of the word “sustainability” – for everyone’s welfare and well-being?
What would we need?
None of us can do anything about this alone. We need to mobilize ourselves and come together as a global society. Governments are tasked with a huge challenge. Community mobilisation is the need of the hour, with people working collaboratively and building upon each other’s strengths.
Our e-Learning Hub
Keeping these many myriad questions in mind, we decided to do something about it using our own e-learning platform that allows blended learning. Our e-learning platform combines different learning methods.
We encouraged our learning partnersSDG Plus to launch their online courses on the Story of Sustainabilityfor free. This proved to be very successful, with the learning videos getting many views on YouTube and seeing a lot of positive engagements from people worldwide. To enhance the learning experience, we have a webinar series dedicated to Sustainable Finance. The entire team at SLX is dedicated towards driving this conversation, by reaching out to others who are as keen to be the change we want to see.
Focus on Sustainable Finance
We picked the theme of sustainable finance. We believe in our tagline “accelerate learning and drive innovation”. To accelerate learning, it is important that money be invested in businesses used for environment and community at large, with a long-term goal. Long-term goal-setting has not been the case all this time. Since mercantilism was first invented in 16th century Europe, traditional financing models focussed on “Return on Investment” and “Risk of Failure”. Sustainable financing models focus on long-term impact on the wider community and the environment. Watch this video by SDG Plus to understand the differences between the two models of financing. How to get Money for Business? | SDGPlus
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Our SLX Webinar Series
We have planned six episodes on our webinar series. Satyadeep Rajan, President Swiss Learning Exchange will moderate these sessions. The idea is to rethink our ways. An economy focusing on short-term gains, isn’t showing the resilience demanded of all of us during this pandemic. The question then becomes… if you want to help change the world, then do you think humanity needs a reset button? We also decided that we will keep this series FREE. It is bound to be illuminating. Watch this video to see the entire series of 6 titles.
Satyadeep Rajan has a wealth of cross-functional experiences behind him as a technologist, a serial entrepreneur who has focussed most of his professional life on education. He has lived across cultures between India and Switzerland. In a passionate message from his visit to Davos in 2019 , Satyadeep Rajan stressed the need to ‘educate’ youth in developed nations. He said that there is a need to educate youth on the devastating economic and environmental impact of two centuries of indiscriminate industrialisation and crushing colonialism. He decided to reach out to his ex-colleague Dr. Thierry Malleret. Malleret has written a book with Dr. Klaus Schwab called Covid 19 The Great Reset. In this first episode of the SLX Webinar series on Sustainable Finance, Satya and Malleret will tell us about the changes that will be needed, if we want to build a resilient, sustainable, and inclusive world.
Join our conversation!
Use this link to register for this FREE event and expand the horizons of your knowledge with both these experienced people. You can send in questions. From think tanks to investment banking, Malleret brings a wealth of experience to the table. He is a PhD in Economics. Malleret’s career began at the Prime Minister’s Office in France. He sits on several advisory boards in Western Europe and the US. Satyadeep Rajan and Thierry Malleret both have families with children. Both are dads. They also want to leave behind a better future for the next generation. Malleret is married with four daughters. Rajan is married with a daughter and two sons. As mentioned before, both worked together – at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland.
Our partners are other like-minded organisations from the Venture Capital field to Geospatial Analytics to Sustainable Development for this webinar series. We have Ivy Cap Ventures, Databasin and SDG Plus as our partners for the first episode. Sign up on our learning hub today. Subscribe to our newsletter to stay informed. We look forward to having you join in the conversation, look at capitalism closely. Be aware and come together for an honest and open collaboration.
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such interesting insights.