To emerge stronger from the COVID-19 crisis, companies should start reskilling their workforces now
Adapting employees’ skills and roles to the post-pandemic ways of working will be crucial to building operating-model resilience.
By Sapana Agrawal, Aaron De Smet, Sébastien Lacroix, and Angelika Reich – Imagine a crisis that forces your company’s employees to change the way they work almost overnight. Despite initial fears that the pressure would be too great, you discover that this new way of working could be a blueprint for the long term. That’s what leaders of many companies around the globe are finding as they respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
Consider the experience of one pharma company with more than 10,000 sales reps. In February, it switched from an offline model to a 100 percent remote-working one. As the containment phase of the crisis gradually recedes, you might expect remote working to fade as well. However, the company now plans to make a 30 percent-online–70 percent-offline working model permanent, thus leveraging the freshly developed skills of its sales reps.
Even before the current crisis, changing technologies and new ways of working were disrupting jobs and the skills employees need to do them. In 2017, the McKinsey Global Institute estimated that as many as 375 million workers—or 14 percent of the global workforce—would have to switch occupations or acquire new skills by 2030 because of automation and artificial intelligence. In a recent McKinsey Global Survey, 87 percent of executives said they were experiencing skill gaps in the workforce or expected them within a few years. But less than half of respondents had a clear sense of how to address the problem.
The coronavirus pandemic has made this question more urgent. Workers across industries must figure out how they can adapt to rapidly changing conditions, and companies have to learn how to match those workers to new roles and activities. This dynamic is about more than remote working—or the role of automation and AI. It’s about how leaders can reskill and upskill the workforce to deliver new business models in the post-pandemic era.
To meet this challenge, companies should craft a talent strategy that develops employees’ critical digital and cognitive capabilities, their social and emotional skills, and their adaptability and resilience. Now is the time for companies to double down on their learning budgets and commit to reskilling. Developing this muscle will also strengthen companies for future disruptions.
In this article, we offer six steps leaders can take to ensure that their employees are equipped with the skills critical to their recovery business models. more>
Posted in Broadband, Business, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Financial crisis, Health, Internet, Jobs, McKinsey, Pandemic, Skills, Technology
Interactive Tool Helps People See Why Staying Home Matters During a Pandemic
By Brittany Aiello – Social distancing has become one of the most impactful strategies in the battle to contain the spread of COVID-19, and a new interactive modeling tool can help people understand why it is so important to “flatten the curve.” Known as VERA, the artificial intelligence (AI) application was developed by researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology to raise awareness about why it matters that individuals distance themselves during an infectious disease outbreak.
Led by College of Computing faculty members Ashok Goel and Spencer Rugaber, and Design & Intelligence Laboratory graduate researchers William Broniec and Sungeun An, the VERA Epidemiology project uses AI techniques to empower users to build their own visual models that simulate the impact of social distancing. The project evolved from earlier National Science Foundation-supported research on a virtual ecological research assistant that enables researchers to explore “what if” experiments about complex ecological phenomena.
The beauty of VERA is that users do not need a background in complex mathematical equations or computer programming to explore it. A high school student interested in finding out what it looks like to “flatten the curve” can log in to VERA and investigate. A parent handling middle school science lessons from home can log in to VERA and demonstrate the reason that it is important that they do lessons from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. more>
- Surfaces That Grip Like Gecko Feet Could Be Easily Mass-Produced, Ben Brumfield
- Immunity of Recovered COVID-19 Patients Could Cut Risk of Expanding Economic Activity, John Toon
- What’s Creating Galaxy-Spanning Cold Gas Filaments in Galaxy Clusters? Research Points to Burps from Supermassive Black Holes, Renay San Miguel
- Atlanta Institutions Take Lead Role in Fast-Tracking COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests, John Toon
- Open-AirVentGT Emergency Ventilator Provides Patient Monitoring, Feedback Control, John Toon
- Joel Kostka Details the Microbial Legacy of the Deepwater Horizon Disaster, Renay San Miguel
- Georgia Tech Produces Key Components for Governor’s Coronavirus Test Initiative, Ben Brumfield
- Georgia Tech Leads Team Effort to Reduce Georgia’s Carbon Footprint, Michael Pearson
- Lung-Heart Super Sensor on a Chip Tinier Than a Ladybug, Ben Brumfield
- Will smartphones help us keep COVID-19 under control? John Toon
- Digital Tool Helps Hospital Make Important Coronavirus Retest Decisions, Ben Brumfield
- The Case For DIY Masks To Slow Coronavirus’ Spread, Ben Brumfield
- Biomass Energy Could Benefit Climate with the Right Policies, Study Finds, Michael Pearson
- Filtration Engineers Offer Advice on Do-It-Yourself Face Masks, John Toon
- Simple, Low-Cost Ventilator Builds on Available Resuscitation Bags, John Toon
- Cognitive Empowerment Program Opens Doors to First Members, Alyson Powell Key
- Brown, Engle, Nemirovski Elected to National Academy of Sciences, Joshua Stewart
- The Next Frontier in Immunoengineering, Georgia Parmelee
- Working Out the Problems of Apollo 13, Candler Hobbs
Posted in Business, EARTH WATCH, Economic development, Economy, Education, Healthcare, How to, Nature, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Earth, Georgia Tech, Health, Internet, Skills
Some basic economics of COVID-19 policy
A look at the trade-offs we face in regulating behavior during the pandemic
By Casey B. Mulligan, Kevin M. Murphy, and Robert H. Topel – The costs of the COVID-19 crisis come in two primary forms. The first is the direct impact in terms of health and lives lost. The second is the indirect impact that comes from efforts by individuals, private institutions, and governments to mitigate those health impacts, such as social distancing, stay-at-home orders, and mandatory business closures. It is imperative that we keep in mind that both are costs, and that less of one typically means more of the other. Like it or not, the first lesson of economics is that there are trade-offs, and choices are inevitable.
Regardless of how we choose to bear them, the costs of the pandemic will be large. Some very rough estimates provide perspective. Based on our earlier work on the value of mortality reductions and improved health, we estimate that an unrestricted pandemic infecting 60 percent of the US population and with an infection fatality rate (IFR) below 1 percent would result in roughly 1.4 million deaths, heavily concentrated among the elderly, with a total value of lost lives of about $6 trillion. For comparison, that is equivalent to about 30 percent of annual US GDP, suggesting that even small progress against the spread of the disease can be quite valuable.
Against this, we estimate that efforts to slow the pandemic via a nationwide shutdown of “non-essential” economic activities would carry a cost approaching $7 trillion per year (roughly $20 billion per day), even ignoring other long-run costs from reduced values of human and physical capital and any intrinsic value of reduced civil liberties.
Of course, an unrestricted pandemic is implausible even in the absence of government interventions, as individuals have powerful incentives to engage in self-protection once the risks are even partially known. Even so, these are big numbers. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Healthcare, History, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Chicago Booth, COVID-19, Economy, Health, Pandemic, Skills
Purpose: Shifting from why to how
What is your company’s core reason for being, and where can you have a unique, positive impact on society? Now more than ever, you need good answers to these questions.
By Arne Gast, Pablo Illanes, Nina Probst, Bill Schaninger and Bruce Simpson – Only 7 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs believe their companies should “mainly focus on making profits and not be distracted by social goals.” And with good reason. While shareholder capitalism has catalyzed enormous progress, it also has struggled to address deeply vexing issues such as climate change and income inequality—or, looking forward, the employment implications of artificial intelligence.
But where do we go from here? How do we deliver a sense of purpose across a wide range of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) priorities? Doing so means moving from business as usual to a less traveled path that may feel like “painting outside the lines.” Are we going too far beyond our core mandate? Does it mean we’ll lose focus on bottom-line results? Will transparency expose painful tensions better left unexamined? Will our boards, management teams, employees, and stakeholders want to follow us, or will they think we have “lost the plot”? There are no easy answers to these questions; corporate engagement is messy, and pitfalls, including criticism from skeptical stakeholders, abound.
Yet when companies fully leverage their scale to benefit society, the impact can be extraordinary. The power of purpose is evident as the world fights the urgent threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, with a number of companies doubling down on their purpose, at the very time stakeholders need it the most (for more, see “Demonstrating corporate purpose in the time of coronavirus”). Business also has an opportunity, and an obligation, to engage on the urgent needs of our planet, where waiting for governments and nongovernmental organizations to act on their own through traditional means such as regulation and community engagement carries risk.
Fortunately, a “how to” playbook is starting to emerge as a growing number of companies lead. In this article, we try to distill some inspiring steps taken by forward-looking companies. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Healthcare, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Health, Internet, McKinsey, Purpose, Skills
By Robert Malley – Running parallel to the global battle against the coronavirus pandemic is a tug of war between two competing narratives about how the world ought to be governed. Although addressing the pandemic is more urgent, which narrative prevails will have equally far-reaching consequences.
The first narrative is straightforward: a global health crisis has further demonstrated the need for multilateralism and exposed the fallacy of go-it-alone nationalism or isolationism. The second narrative offers the counterview: globalization and open borders create vulnerabilities to viruses and other threats, and the current struggle for control of supply lines and life-saving equipment requires that each country first take care of its own. Those in the first camp regard the pandemic as proof that countries must come together to defeat common threats; those in the second see it as proof that countries are safer standing apart.
At first blush, COVID-19 seems likely to corroborate the argument for a more coordinated international approach. Given that the coronavirus does not stop at national borders, it stands to reason that the response should not be constrained by them either.
This makes perfect sense from a public health perspective. If COVID-19 persists anywhere, it will remain an incipient threat everywhere, regardless of efforts to wall it off. The more widely that testing kits and, when discovered, treatments and vaccines, are distributed, the faster the pandemic will be vanquished. The more that scientific knowledge is shared, the faster those drugs will be developed. And, in the meantime, the more that governments coordinate on matters such as travel restrictions and social distancing, the smoother the exit from this crisis. more>
Posted in Business, Economic development, Economy, Education, Healthcare, How to, Net, Science, Technology
Tagged Business improvement, Health, Organization, Pandemic, Skills, world order