The shock is over. The damage is real. Now, a critical new phase begins.
Business leaders around the world, having taken stock of today’s COVID-19 reality, are starting the process of rebuilding their companies, and their industries, even as the threat of the virus continues. They are clear-eyed, determined, and even a little bit optimistic. Yet like everyone else, they’re deeply concerned about what the future holds. Even when the pandemic recedes, it will have changed their industries significantly.
For almost 25 years, we at Fast Company have been dedicated to sharing stories of how creative-minded leaders have innovated their way through crises big and small—how, despite great obstacles, forward-thinking individuals and teams have not just survived, but thrived. The economic repercussions of this global pandemic are without precedent. But we are confident that learning from others’ experiences, even the failures, represents the best way forward. In fact, it may be the only way.
In a new, ongoing series called The Shape of Tomorrow, we present dispatches from the front lines of business—sharing the first-person perspectives of CEOs, designers, engineers, marketers, and others who are, as we write this, redefining what healthcare, travel, retail, advertising, architecture, hiring, and more will look like in the months, years, and even decades to come.
In many ways, the new normal will be better than what came before. Healthcare, so long tied to a doctor’s physical location, is finally moving online in ways that should have happened years ago. The restaurant industry, though devastated by social distancing measures, is united in finding new ways to reach customers. Travel leaders are moving quickly to appeal to people closer to home and make trust and safety synonymous with their brands.
All we’ve asked these insiders for is their honesty—about the challenges they’re facing, the fears that keep them up at night, and the successes they’ve experienced along the way. We hope that these conversations help you navigate the new terrain. They are certainly guiding us.
More from Fast Company’s Shape of Tomorrow series:
- NASA’s culture chief reveals how COVID-19 altered the agency
- Insiders at General Mills and more on how COVID-19 changed manufacturing and supply chains around the world
- Atlanta Hawks CEO Steve Koonin on how COVID-19 is changing basketball
- What restaurants will actually be like in a post-COVID world, according to Chipotle, Panera, street food vendors, and others
- Still looking for Clorox wipes? Here’s how the company has innovated to meet unprecedented demand
- Four fashion insiders reveal how COVID-19 is altering the industry
- The leaders of the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic, and Doctors Without Borders share their vision of the future of medicine around the globeSix experts reveal the post
- Is advertising really dead? Reports may be exaggerated. Here’s how the leaders of Droga5, TWBA, Wieden+Kennedy, and more are inching forward
- Five retail experts—from Nike, Athleta, and More—on how stores and brands can survive the Covid-19 era
- Experts predict what it will take to find a job in a post-COVID world
- How COVID-19 has changed investing, according to VC’s at Sequoia, Insight, Forerunner, 500 Startups, and more
- Six experts on how we’ll live, play, and work in cities after COVID-19
- How leaders representing teachers, flight attendants, farm workers, and more are fighting to expand worker protections during the pandemic and beyond
- Insiders at Burning Man, Broadway, Meow Wolf and more describe how the live events industry will emerge onto a new stage
- Top executives at the NBA, Major League Soccer, and more on how we’ll experience live sports after COVID-19
- How COVID-19 has changed the way we eat, according to leaders at General Mills, Land O’Lakes, and more
- Four experts on why performance reviews might be a thing of the past
- Planned Parenthood president Alexis McGill Johnson explains how she’s positioning the nonprofit for the post-COVID-19 era and bracing for battle
- Watch out, Amazon: Walmart could be the comeback story of the COVID-19 era. Here’s how brand perception is changing
- Four higher education leaders on how COVID-19 is upending the college experience
- How the leaders of Barry’s, Orangetheory, Peloton, and more are bringing fitness classes into people’s homes and rethinking the studio experience entirely
- NHL commissioner Gary Bettman shares lessons from the bubble
- How COVID-19 has changed voting, from drive-in rallies to ballot tracking
- 4 advertising executives reveal how client relationships, production, and hiring might never be the same