Coronavirus crossroads: Is this Australia’s chance to change how we do business for the better?

Nick Northcott explains business changes.

Immediation executive director Nick Northcott.

Covid-19 has had a dramatic impact on business operations; in many ways for the better.

Amid the confusion of the past few months, we have learnt that online business can increase customer access and satisfaction, and we have seen both sides of business come together in unprecedented ways.

Political parties are working hand-in-hand, landlords are negotiating with renters, and parents are facilitating education outside of schools to protect teachers. And, as courts close and the backlog of legal cases piles up, some of Australia’s biggest courts are drawing on virtual legal technology to help more Australians settle disputes.

Increasingly as a result of the COVID-19 fallout, we are witnessing a more empathetic approach to business than ever before. The question is, how long can it last?

Creating space for the changes we want

Periods of growth and change offer an opportunity to make difficult decisions and choices that directly impact the future of a business, it’s employees and, ultimately, it’s customers. We happen to be at a point in history where we are watching the very nature of business and traditional industries change before our eyes.

To leverage this and drive that change in the right direction, businesses across the country should consider this global pandemic a rallying cry.

This is the time for businesses to stop prioritising their bottom line over ethical and moral behaviours and for the larger Australian business landscape to embrace the rise of moral fortitude.

Whether it’s the reconsideration of board governance — and thus, the value we place on legal or financial skill sets in favour of ethical guidance — or the standardisation of sustainability over profitability, we have to create space for the change we want to see.

The path before us is clear and it outlines two choices: We can return to the way things were or we can use this as a turning point for Australian businesses, today and onwards.

Profitability versus impact

From the outset, businesses apply a business model that suits their growth and impact objectives. It can range from corporate businesses that charge customers high prices for maximum profitability, to charities or assistance services that charge customers low rates, in order to maximise the impact the business is trying to make.

Business owners should take this time to ask themselves: What is the impact of my company and does my drive for profitability contest that impact?

You see, it is possible for profitability and impact to work in harmony. By placing the impact or moral standards of a business at the forefront of the business model — or business landscape — it is more likely you will align yourself with partners and businesses with similar interests.

At this junction in time, a greater understanding of the social impacts Australian businesses are creating is critical. If Australian businesses take a stand and commit to a more ethical or impact-driven approach to business, the Australian business landscape could become a far more productive, customer-serving, collaborative space.

Let’s use this time as learning and start creating space for the change we want to see, and prioritising refreshed business models.

NOW READ: How to support the mental health of your people through COVID-19

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