Adrian Monck is a member of the Managing Board of the World Economic Forum. He heads the Forum’s Public Engagement Team, the Global Shapers Community, the Forum of Young Global Leaders and the Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship. Monck brings over 20 years of experience as a news executive as well as professor and head of journalism at City University, London.
Here are the excerpts of the interview.
The rapid outbreak of the coronavirus presents an alarming health crisis that the world is grappling with. In addition to the human impact, there is also a significant commercial impact being felt globally. How do you see the larger impact of the crisis on businesses globally?
Businesses around the world are grappling with the impact of COVID-19. Everyone will be impacted somehow, the question is how much. The urgent need for medical supplies, border closures and the drastic reduction in airliner cargo capacity has sparked fears as to whether supply-chains can get us the goods we need. Beyond the immediate need for supplies, questions are being raised about the risk inherent in current supply chain structures. Over recent decades, supply chains have globalized, specialized and become leaner. They are more efficient, less risky in certain areas, but potentially risker in others. Businesses now need to figure out how they can adapt to this crisis, pivot and help where needed and then rebound.
How can organizations position their businesses to be resilient in the face of this and the next global threat?
An important part of business resilience is scenario planning. It’s important to map out your supply chain and plan for multiple situations. If you have those plans in place, you can move forward faster once the conditions are clearer.
Several governments across the globe are coming up with support/ resilience/ stimulus package to help employers tide the crisis and employees to not go jobless. Will this make a difference given the swelling number of unemployment claims and employers struggling to stay afloat?
At the virtual session of G20 leaders, countries such as China, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore shared lessons learned in fighting coronavirus. This coordination across borders, labs, and communities remains essential. The US has just approved a $2 Trillion stimulus package which includes direct payments to individuals. In Germany, help for self-employed and firms with up to five employees can apply for a one-off grant of up to €9,000 and in the UK, the government will pay self-employed people, who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus, a taxable grant worth 80 percent of their average monthly profits over the last three years. In Hong Kong and the US, we are seeing the implementation of Helicopter Money (direct payments to citizens) to offset the fall of income for many households and businesses.
What is important right now is action. We need governments and businesses to come together and talk about what they need and how to keep moving forward. We are seeing record levels of unemployment, so people are scared. These actions are one way of governments trying to reassure people that help can come. It’s important that everyone realize we are all in this together. Public-private cooperation is needed now more than ever.
As countries around the world hunker down to control COVID-19, do you think it's right time to plan for the next phase and prepare to respond to future threats, and make the world safer and more prosperous?
Stakeholder capitalism is about: ensuring the long-term preservation and resilience of the company and embedding a company in society. This crisis will show us which companies truly embodied the stakeholder model, and which only paid lip service to it. It’s a litmus test. Some companies are standing out in how they are preparing now for a better world tomorrow. Unilever donated $50m in soap to the COVID Action Platform, which was set up by the World Economic Forum in partnership with the World Health Organization. Maersk offered ships and cargo space to get emergency supplies wherever they are needed. These kinds of companies understand this global emergency requires all societal actors to temporarily reorient themselves to the emergency response needed. They are the same companies that optimized for long-term prosperity.
Thanks to the coronavirus outbreak, working from home is no longer a privilege, it’s a necessity. COVID-19 has led to a global experiment on work from home. How do you see in the context of future of work?
We were seeing workplace changes, but this crisis has accelerated the switch to digital. Latest research from the World Economic Forum forecasts that by 2025, machines will perform more current work tasks than humans, compared to 71 percent being performed by humans today. We have urgent challenges to enable remote work and building safety nets to protect at-risk workers and communities. While nearly 50 percent of all companies expect their full-time workforce to shrink by 2022 as a result of automation, almost 40 percent expect to extend their workforce generally and more than a quarter expect automation to create new roles in their enterprise. We need to make sure there are safety nets and retraining programs in place so we can fill the jobs of tomorrow.
What makes a good leader during a crisis?
Public-private cooperation has never been needed more. What we are hoping to see is people communicating and working together across borders and across industries. That is how we will resolve this crisis sooner and where the real leaders will emerge.
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