Friday, 5 February 2021

Your guide to adapting to the “new normal”

The Beginning

Your Wealth is a custom Enterprise briefing for people just like you: Executives, entrepreneurs and builders who know that time isn’t money, but that time and money are feedstock for the one thing that matters most in life: Your family, however you define it.

Once a month, in partnership with our friends at CIB Wealth, we’ll bring you a hand-picked selection of ideas, tips and inspirational stories that will help you make the most of your time, enhance our wealth, and build a better life with the people you love.

As always, we love hearing from readers. Send us story ideas, hints, tips or interview suggestions to editorial@enterprise.press.

THE ROAD AHEAD

It’s no secret. The world is changing in ways that are likely to stick around for the foreseeable future, whether we like it or not. And while last month, we looked at what these changes might look like, we’re now diving into what these mean for you — as an individual — and how you can best prepare for the changes to come.

SELF-DEVELOPMENT

Upskilling x10: If you peruse social media with any sort of regularity, chances are you’ve come across blanket statements about the potential to learn new skills during the unfavorable circumstances of the past year. And if you’re anything like us, these posts rubbed you the wrong way much of the time — but there is some truth to them. Some skills you were forced to learn while in lockdown may tag along to the post-covid world.

First and foremost is the incorporation of online learning and training in your personal and professional lives with digital platforms such as Coursera and Khan Academy helping people all over the world learn skills such as digital marketing, finance, or marketing, reports Business Australia. Many have also downloaded the education app Duolingo to learn languages to show off during post-covid travels. We’ve all also gained new skills on how to engage and interact with people online, with the pandemic forcing many to foster relationships with friends, family, colleagues, and clients virtually.

Skills the youths should pick up: Programming, technology, digital marketing, graphics, and design, the World Bank suggests. The global entity has already launched several programs across Africa to upskill youths who will enter the digital-driven job market in the next few years. Soft-skills such as crisis management skills and adaptability were focused on and attendees of the program were introduced to ways to work remotely.

Planning to plan ahead: The pandemic has taught us to engage in both short and long-term planning to meet goals. Moreover, it taught people to be flexible and adjust quickly to changing circumstances. That also means looking at numbers and data that could help you judge the health of your business and how to go forward.

Some skills that could make the world a better place: The World Economic Forum has outlined four skills needed to tackle the world's biggest issues post-covid, the first of which is to globally foster “futures literacy” — or the ability to imagine and make sense of the future. UNESCO has been organizing Future Labs in schools and communities in more than 20 countries as a way to teach people the effects of how we act and think on the future. Another abstract skill pushed by the WEF is “systems thinking,” which is a mindset to think, communicate and learn about systems to make patterns clearer, improve and share the understanding of problems and see how to face them effectively. This will help with the third skill “anticipation” which will help us detect signals of possible futures and modify our habits and behaviors to be better prepared for a continuously changing world. Finally, the skill of “strategic foresight” has become imperative to determine what’s in store next for humanity.

WORK

Are lunch breaks, colleagues, and water cooler chit chat a thing of the past? Are we ever going to get back to our normal work schedules? Well, yes and no. Most businesses are leaning towards a mixed model, with employees working from the office a few days a week but being able to work remotely the rest of the time. Contrary to conventional wisdom, working from home can make people more, not less productive (provided there isn’t the looming anxiety of an ongoing pandemic in the background). Here’s a few things we can expect going forward:

More remote working and nonstandard work models: A poll by research consultancy Gartner showed that 48% of employees will likely work remotely at least part of the time. The research consultancy also found that 32% of businesses were replacing full time employees with contingent workers, which may be a good thing for flexible working schedules but could spell out disaster for workplace benefits. That having been said, the pandemic has tasked employers with caring for their employees mental and physical health and wellbeing like never before, a trend that could hopefully be extended to contractors and part-time workers.

Being a better employee: Digital & technology skills have moved even more into the spotlight as life moved online and businesses from all sectors scrambled to catch up, according to The Mandarin. That also means that skills in IT and security have become coveted by employers who want to be able to amend their digital infrastructure quickly and effectively. However, personality skills have also become an asset to any company, with employees that show skills in problem-solving, agility, resilience, critical thinking, and communication helping boost a workplace’s efficiency, innovation, and morale, says Silicon Republic.

Throwing the open office plan out the window: The ubiquitous model for collaborative working is a disaster for the spread of infectious diseases, and with more variants of covid-19 likely to develop in the future, the open plan office is a no no. Some employers have said they will stick to a rotational schedule, having no more than 60% of employees in at any one time, while others will set up “sneeze guards” in the form of plexiglass panes between cubicles and will work on improving air circulation. Team-wide meetings and office lunch buffets may be a thing of the past we’re afraid.

Expanded data collection for employee monitoring: The Gartner poll showed that 16% of businesses are already using tech to monitor their employees, asking them to clock in and out digitally or tracking computer usage and engagement. And while this all may seem a bit 1984, it’s a trend that’s likely to continue and amplify as remote working becomes the norm. Employee surveillance software shot up by more than 50% in the first few months of the pandemic, though 66% of workers said they would be uncomfortable with keyboard monitoring, 80% uncomfortable with camera monitoring, and 76% unhappy with electronic tracking in a survey conducted by a UK-based trade union.

Then again, do we actually want to go back to the office? From more time spent with family, to scrapping the morning commute, to greater flexibility and more time spent outdoors, there are more than a few benefits to remote working. A recent survey of more than 1.1k remote workers by The New York Times and Morning Consult found that 86% of those surveyed were happy working from home. Ultimately, the pandemic has imposed a rethinking of work-life balance that was long overdue, and maybe we won’t ever end up going into the office the way we used to. We’re certainly not complaining.

SOCIALIZE

A lot of us are trying to get back to the way things were before 2020, especially as it pertains to our social lives. But the longer covid-19 remains a threat, the longer we’ll need to stick to pandemic-related social tactics. Mass vaccination is our best shot (pun kind of intended) at restoring at least a semblance of pre-covid social life. “When the vaccine becomes available, get vaccinated,” top US virus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci said when asked by the Gray Lady if we’ll ever go to parties again.

Well, parties are one thing, but should you prepare to experience packs again? The National Geographic unpacks how there’s a widespread fear of (if not disdain for) crowds. It’s unclear how long this aversion will last, but many people are developing a new type of emotional response “of being really jittery or distressed” when in jammed or crowded settings. Whatever you do, please don’t go out chanting corona on New Year’s Eve (yes, we’re looking at you, Stanley Bridge).

A Brave New World: “The new habits we are developing in these days of covid are going to be the habits of the future,” Gizmodo says. There are some etiquette rules that will likely only stick around until the pandemic is properly declared over but we think some behavioral guidelines could stick around longer. Take this rundown of covid etiquette from the Washington Post: While we think face masks will not be required for the rest of eternity and (at least hope) hugs will become common practice again, we expect the ability to set boundaries on what kind of interactions we are comfortable with has a good chance of becoming permanent.

enterprise

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YOUR TOP 5

Your top 5 pieces of business and economic news in January:

  • Schools and universities were ordered to move online until mid-February as covid-19 cases surged.
  • Annual headline inflation cooled to 5.4% in December from 5.7% in November.
  • Bank ABC won the bid to acquire Blom Bank Egypt, marking the first of two anticipated exits by Lebanese banks.
  • Egypt and the GCC ended their rift with Qatar, re-opening their airspaces and re-instating diplomatic ties.
  • Egypt’s non-oil private sector recovery stalled again in December, with the purchasing managers’ index showing business conditions deteriorating moderately.

STAY HEALTHY

Our priorities for health, nutrition and overall well-being have seen a radical shift: Covid has brought about increased preventative health awareness-raising, supermarket supply shortages and lockdown frustrations on one side and having extra time at home to prepare meals — often with fresher, locally-sourced ingredients — or regularly take more exercise on the other.

All of this has pushed health considerations up many people’s agendas. 54% of Americans surveyed by the International Food Information Council cared more about how healthy their food and beverages were in 2020 than in 2010, with health being a more important consideration than taste or price, Forbes reports. Globally, people have been cutting down on processed fast-food takeaways and upping their intake of home-cooked food, with more cereals and legumes.

Moving forward, we could see a move towards vitamin-rich, plant-based foods, and the creation of more health apps: People are already seeking out plant-based proteins and foods containing immunity-boosting Vitamin C, according to Forbes. And products are being developed to meet our new pandemic needs, like a PepsiCo drink intended to soothe consumers before sleep. Telehealth and telenutrition are increasing, and a wave of new tech innovations are helping customers verify product and ingredient claims or create tailored supplement programs to target their specific health needs.

But can we maintain our good habits? Amid pandemic disruption, many people have actually picked up better habits, including eating better, exercising more, getting more sleep, or having more chances to connect deeply with friends, according to the New York Times. How to maintain these habits in the long-term is the USD 1mn question. Advice from the Times? Be clear on your motivation, plan for potential obstacles, and make it easy to reintegrate your new habits into your old routine by being aware of what helped you form them in the first place.

The change needs to be long-term and holistic, say experts. The pandemic is forcing us to recognize that our lifestyles cause stress, anxiety and burnout, weakening our immune systems, says the Global Wellness Institute. This puts us at greater risk of chronic illnesses, and more vulnerable to covid-19. We can change course, but only by prioritizing a holistic change that addresses the problems, the GWI argues. This means recognizing that consumer choices are made within systems designed to maximize profit and efficiency — so our oh-so-convenient delivery apps keep us sedentary, transport options increase pollution and reduce mobility, and tech innovations can lead to greater loneliness as face-to-face communication lessens. The poor and marginalized are often most impacted.

But don’t make it another thing to add to endless to-do lists or beat yourself up about: Making changes at the individual, community, business and government levels are crucial, the GWI says. What matters is reframing success as being inextricably linked with physical and mental well-being — not just defining it in economic terms. But when it comes to applying positive changes long-term, don’t put yourself under pressure, allow some room for setbacks, and remember it can be better to carry on with a positive change imperfectly than not continue at all.

TRAVEL

The question we can’t stop asking: When and how can we travel again? Global research by travel agency eDreams showed that prolonged lockdowns and home isolation have people itching for adventure and escapism, with 70% of surveyees planning 2021 trips.

Fun fact: Almost every single person we’ve interviewed for our popular Work From Home Routine column has said that the one thing they’re most looking forward to post-pandemic is to travel again.

But the travel landscape has changed, and so must our travel mindset, Lonely Planet warns us. The key is to be prepared and flexible, with some contingency plans in place. What will you do if your planned destination becomes a covid hotspot? Will you bring extra disinfectant, masks and other hygiene equipment for trips that involve a lot of time on the road? Are you ready to spend your holiday reading by the pool if all the tourist spots are closed? Could you self-isolate on your arrival or after your return if needed? What does your insurance cover? What’s the cut-off point for calling off your trip entirely? These are all questions you need to answer — and if possible, write down — as you plan your getaway, LP advises.

The covid-19 change in travel habits could be long-lasting: 83% of 9.5k frequent travellers from 12 countries who took part in a global airline passenger confidence survey said their travel habits would change, even after the pandemic has abated.

Everyone’s hoping that tech innovations will help — primarily by providing more real-time updates on the covid-19 status of different destinations and by enabling more contactless systems, including payment and staggered queues for security.

Travel anxiety varies depending on the age of surveyees and their countries’ pandemic responses: Surveyees over 65 were three times as likely to wait for a vaccine before travelling again than their younger counterparts aged 25-34. Anxiety around travel appears to be higher among Asian citizens than Europeans, despite reporting higher levels of satisfaction with how airlines have handled covid. It surely can’t be a stretch to link this more cautious approach to travel with the lower rates of covid seen in many Asian countries. 58% of Singaporean and 54% of South Koreans say their behaviour to avoid covid is highly cautious, versus just 29% in the UK, reports Forbes. Aggregated data indicates that Singapore has seen just 29 covid deaths, South Korea 1.2k and the UK 89k.

Countries like Thailand, Vietnam, Japan and Australia — with great pandemic responses — could be shooting up bucket lists: Future travellers will be drawn to destinations seen as clean, healthy and safe, and to have managed the pandemic effectively, suggests a report by Pacific Asia Travel Association, along with partners including the World Economic Forum. The report shows a clear link between perceptions of health and hygiene and the competitiveness of countries as travel destinations.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg’s urging a (somewhat) sustainable travel rebound in this overview of 24 destinations supposedly prioritizing environmental sustainability and community rebuilding. Stunning images, a rundown on covid-19 safeguarding measures in place in each, and in-country highlights — from art and culture in Senegal to bracing walks in the British countryside — will have you, like us, itching to get on a plane even more than you already are.

And Egypt’s a bucket list destination for post-covid travel with the Siwa Oasis getting some special love on its own. (The Wall Street Journal | The New York Times)

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2021 Enterprise Ventures LLC.