PODCAST: A futurist on possibilities in a post-pandemic world

Written on Jul 09, 2020

By Jessica Salerno, OSCPA senior content manager

While dealing with an ever-changing present because of the coronavirus pandemic, businesses should consider how their current model might evolve in the future.

“The future isn't already formed; the future is still being formed,” said David Staley, a futurist. “And so, the best that we can do is to imagine different possibilities of the future.”

Staley is an associate professor at The Ohio State University, and director for both the Humanities Institute and the Center for the Humanities in Practice. He’s also president of the Columbus Futurists, which he described as a “foresight think tank.”

He joined this week’s episode of The State of Business podcast to discuss possibilities for the economy and businesses in the future as the world grapples with the impact of the pandemic.

One of the most prominent changes Staley said should continue to impact businesses in the long term is the massive shift to operating virtually. That transition to remote work will reveal that employees are just as productive, if not more so, while working at home, Staley said.

“The idea then is that offices as we understand them could be a thing of the past. Or are radically altered as a result,” he said. “You're not going to need large office space to manage your employees, when managing a virtual network of such employees is just as efficient, and in fact, maybe even more cost effective.”

The role of CPAs and financial advisors will continue to evolve as well, as businesses will need forward-thinkers to be able to prepare and advise them on strategy. This also means potentially redesigning the business model to deal with the impact of COVID-19, Staley said.

“What we've seen is that the pandemic has also caused an economic calamity, unemployment being chief among them,” he said.

Struggles will continue as a result of the pandemic, Staley said, but the businesses that will overcome are those willing to pivot and evolve.

“The old saying is ‘don't waste a crisis,” he said. “I think there are some that are seeing this as an opportunity maybe to really engage  in significant innovation, not just simply in product lines, but in businesses and in whole industries.”

Listen to the entire episode here.

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