What to Look For In A Post-Covid Economy

21 Apr 2020

What to Look For In A Post-Covid Economy

Sector by Sector Outlook for Talent and Human Capital

The COVID-19 pandemic may be the single most disruptive event in modern history. Roughly a third of the world’s population is currently under some sort of quarantine. Nearly overnight, more than a hundred million Americans either stopped working or started working from home; ten million of them filed for unemployment in the last two weeks of March; another 6.6 million filed in the first week of April; and over the course of the second quarter, another 20 million jobs are expected to be lost. Even if we slow the rate of new COVID-19 cases, manage to get people back to work soon, and achieve a significant recovery, the economic downturn is likely to be more severe than any in the last sixty years.

But not all of the changes caused by the pandemic will be negative.

Like other major disruptive events—the 1979 oil crisis, 9/11, the 2008 financial crisis—COVID-19 has completely revised our thinking about risk. After decades of offshoring U.S. manufacturing jobs, our supply chains now feel (think domestic pharma) both socially and fiscally irresponsible. This new scrutiny on pandemic-related risks will forever change supply chains by decreasing our reliance on overseas manufacturers and bringing millions of manufacturing jobs back into the country. This shift will lead to widespread adoption of advanced manufacturing technologies and will drive further innovations as companies use automation to offset higher domestic labor costs. At the same time, hundreds of millions of Americans are suddenly working from home, shopping from home, and pursuing their educations at home—a shift that will bring about significant changes in customer, employee, and organizational behavior.

It is unclear when the health crisis will pass or what our country will look like when it does. According to some projections, the U.S. economy will recover within the year; according to others, it won’t achieve its new normal until 2023. But regardless of whether it takes six months or three years, it has become apparent that we will find ourselves in a drastically restructured society—a society skeptical of the structures that made us so vulnerable to COVID-19 and willing to make changes to ensure that we’re better prepared for the next disruption, whatever it may be. Succeeding in the new normal will require new changes in behavior and work, as well as expansion and new types of roles such as extensive testing and contact tracing as well.

To help analyze these changes, we have gathered thoughts from our executive search professionals in banking, insurance, consumer, supply chain, manufacturing, aerospace, defense & national security, life sciences, healthcare, technology, professional services, education, and international development. Each short article analyzes the present state of the sector and describes some of the changes that we can expect going forward.

I hope you find them interesting.

— Steve Potter, CEO of Odgers Berndtson, US

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