The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in an unprecedented shift in the global business environment. Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China, in December 2019 and its subsequent spread across continents, many world regions have come to a standstill or experienced a dramatic slowdown in economic activities. It has also harmed many of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and has accelerated socio-economic inequality.
The New Normal
The instability induced by the pandemic has accelerated many business trends. It has accelerated the digital transformation, highlighting the need for reliable data and rapid innovation. Operating in an increasingly volatile global environment makes it necessary for businesses to build resilience and redundancy. In the new normal, the focus is on sustainability, which has led companies to adopt environment-friendly initiatives. Everyone needs to do their best to encourage sustainable practices.
In light of widening social disparities, the role of businesses, giant corporations, and brands in society is being reassessed. The pandemic has highlighted the need to strengthen the strategy on the Sustainable Development Goals and, at the same time, focus in the short term on controlling the spread of the disease. Consumer behavior has also felt the impact of the pandemic, with consumers holding brands accountable for societal goods. A study by EY shows that affordability, health, and sustainability are the crucial issues that brands need to focus on if they want to effectively address the needs of future consumers.
Utilizing Corporate Purpose for Motivation
Corporates can help promote sustainability in the new normal by issuing a clear statement regarding their purpose, i.e., they exist to serve society. According to Professor C. B. Bhattacharya of the University of Pittsburgh School of Business, companies can realize their purpose by following environmentally sustainable goals and concentrating on a few material areas. One way to achieve sustainability goals is to assess their team’s impact on the environment, such as usage of electricity, greenhouse gas emissions, and water intake. Companies must encourage their senior leaders to emphasize corporate purpose, sustainability objectives, and lessening targets to all constituents.
Empowering teammates is crucial in achieving sustainable goals in the new normal. Senior leaders must motivate their teammates and build enthusiasm by explaining how sustainable business practices can benefit everyone. You should tell your teammates how they can also make a difference by incorporating new processes and tools into their daily operations. When you want to empower others, you must effectively communicate with them.
At the same time, employees or teammates should be encouraged to brainstorm and implement new ideas to serve customers in a more environmentally friendly manner. As the first step in this direction, they can save paper and ink cartridges by sharing files electronically. In addition, they may start using reusable coffee mugs and water bottles and even bring plants to their workspaces to promote the recycling of stale air. While these may seem to be minor steps, they have a significant impact on the environment when done together.
Making Work-From-Home Sustainable
One way to ensure that you contribute to sustainable development goals in the new normal is by thinking of ways to go greener from home. You can achieve this in several ways, which may be small steps but have a significant impact. For instance, if you manage a team and the employees need to purchase new desks, consider the environmental impact of buying items. If you are buying computers, ensure that they are EPEAT-certified and meet Energy Star requirements. While working from home, ensure that compact fluorescent bulbs light your workspace.
Reassess Supply Chains
During the last few years, many people entrusted with purchasing responsibilities have changed their policies and vendor selection criteria. They have started caring for the vendors in their supply chains by reducing payment terms and ordering additional inventory. When changes like these are adopted, it helps businesses select their suppliers, especially those who have initiated steps to reduce the overall burden of products and services. It is vital to remember that environmental sustainability is likely to play a crucial role in future adverse events. So, one should prepare for the next calamity by reassessing their ecological footprint and making the necessary adjustments.
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