On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organisation sounded the alarm to a global pandemic. Globally, as of 2:50 pm CEST, May 24 2021, there have been 166,860,081 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3,459,996 deaths, reported to WHO. As of May 24 2021, a total of 1,489,727,128 vaccine doses have been administered.
The ripple effects of these alarming statistics are not without deep emotional trauma, fatigue, and economic, social, and financial ramifications. For many nations, the road to recovery is heavily rooted in widespread vaccination rollouts, reaching herd immunity, gradual reduction of masks and a steady eye on algorithms to avoid overrun medical systems, misinformation, heightened fear and lack of trust. If anything, the road to recovery isn’t a one or two jab operation but a holistic overview of the entire ecosystem upon which habits, behaviours and patterns were upended, many of which forced us to rethink the basics of our everyday existence and coexistence. A deeper look into the diagnostics of how we operate, what works, what doesn’t and through these shifts and jolts’ what we must consider in the recovering and rehabilitation stages.
In a high-level segment, to take place on May 24, 2021 (10:00 -12:00 CEST) with participation from Heads of State and Governments and special guests, as well as an address by the WHO Director-General, the seventy-fourth session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) will stress the urgency of ending the current pandemic and preventing the next one by building a healthier, safer and fairer world.
Today, a stronger emphasis is placed on mental health like never before. Precedence is being given to workplace culture, developing a stronger sense of diversity, inclusion and belonging outside of the ‘nice to have’ corporate initiative. Conversations are deepening on the irrefutable link between healthy societies, healthy people, and the impact this has on economic growth and happiness. These newly found appreciations aren’t exactly ‘new’ but like a rip that tore into the earth, mending this gap requires an intentional look at how our preexisting mental and structural prerequisites collide.
The reality is, there isn’t a singular act that will ‘just like magic’ make matters better. In reshaping our perceptions as we attempt to rebuild and secure a better, more innovative way forward, perhaps we can use this moment to emerge and evolve differently in how we coexist. Below I share seven touchpoints in paving the way for this conversation.
IT’S A ‘WE’ RESPONSIBILITY — for far too long, we’ve outsourced our ability and the opportunities to learn and bridge greater understanding by a lack of interest to ‘get involved.’ This type of attitude has proven to breathe bottleneck decision making, confusion, the under-development of human skills, depleted relationships, increased mental health issues and the overall waste of potential. Get involved, show up and wake up to the reality that recovery and rehabilitation efforts are better when activated together.
VACCINATION ‘ONLY’ WILL NOT SOLVE IT ALL — At the helm of nearly every news headline is the promise of ‘normalcy’ with greater vaccination efforts. Irrespective of our independent take on the efficacy of the development and deployment of vaccines to offer a glimpse of life ‘reopened,’ this alone is not the answer to recovery and rehabilitation. Quite frankly, it is narrow to think it is. At heart, this starts with everyone taking responsibility for their actions and accountability to choose to do better, reshaping and reinforcing habits that work toward building healthier communities agile enough to withstand change. The takeaway isn’t how fast we can get back into the game but how well we will play the next.
DON’T BET ON LUCK. PREPARE AHEAD — “By failing to prepare; you are preparing to fail.”― Benjamin Franklin. Preparation: for what is uncertain, unknown or inevitable, offers a certain degree of resilience. The reality is, having a plan is just as crucial to navigating your dreams, aspirations and enjoying the little moments as it is to offset more challenging times. Rethinking this along a broad spectrum into how we live, what we accept into our lives, conversation or otherwise, and what we accumulate shouldn’t go unnoticed. Now is as good a time as any to start thinking strategically and mindfully on long term goals and, how to best apply your time and energy in cultivating the conversations to align what matters most.
LEARN FROM THE PAST. DON’T LIVE IN IT — The past has a way of resurfacing one way or another. The past, our history and lived experiences offer a roadmap to creating a better way forward. Yes, we’ve all experienced tremendous fatigue, and this will require healing, but a big part of that healing comes at a learning point from the past and choosing to do better for the future. Recognising this and the power and art of conversations as well as listening to the global spectrum of movement offers leverage to bridge new beginnings or redefine old ones.
REINFORCE HEALTH INTO EVERYDAY LIFE — The global pandemic has put pressure on everyone’s mental health. Now, more than ever, leaders need to take action, which means: developing a solid sense of wellbeing into ‘how we live, work and play’ is an essential part of the puzzle moving forward. For this reason, mental health and developing robust initiatives that embody cultures of health now fuel conversations in corporate social responsibility to build a better, more resilient world. In January 2021, The Global Business Collaboration for Better Workplace Mental Health was formed, built on the premise that no one business has all the answers regarding workplace mental health.
WORK WITH A TRIPLE BOTTOM LINE IN FOCUS — Profit, People, Planet. For the longest, we have embraced cultures, attitudes and ways of thinking that glorified the grit of hard work at the expense of human life and the planet. The ripple effects of these choices compound the chaos we are left with when faced with disruptive global events. We have seen and felt the dire effects practices without responsibility have on the longevity of health planning, global economic growth, opportunity and equality.
Perhaps we can strive to create a culture that ignites the human spark and acknowledge the need to reboot and clean up our existing patterns, systems and processes to function without depleting and degrading resources.
Companies that have recognised the need for more robust integrations of corporate social responsibility into the built environment and framework of practices that hubs financial, economic and social structures also responded better in the height of a crisis. They are also better prepared to project and offer a safe and secure sense of place for their people to discover, share and thrive during challenging times. These values build a greater understanding of integrity, trust and cooperation.
Here are a few companies changing the conversation in a positive direction.
Unilever — aims to reuse 100% of plastic packaging by 2025.
DHL — aims to reach zero emission by 2050.
Coca Cola Company — plans to achieve major recycling initiative by 2030.
Apple — achieved 100% green energy.
Recognising sustainable ways of working and generating profits while keeping the planet’s health and people at heart is essential in preparatory measures and growing resilience, security, trust and agility. The bottom line is — there will be nothing left to work towards if we do not consider the impacts of our actions.
MAKE UPSKILLING A NORMAL PART OF LIFE — Consider your personal computer or handheld device. It requires periodic software updates, clean up, and health checks to maintain its regular functionality and be competitive and relevant with growing market competition, evolving needs and wants. Similarly, we need regular updates to our central operating system, or mind and body. Whether that comes asynchronous, synchronous or through blended experiences, integrating and maintaining a well acclimated upskilling learning path is wise in any situation. The shifts and jolts experienced globally from industry to industry showed us the need for upskilling to meet new demands and cross-pollinate knowledge, skills and abilities to innovate, create and restructure is key.
By opening ourselves to the power of learning new things, we begin to see ourselves as a part of what it takes to make things function instead of becoming stranded.