15 December 2020

Companies will be more sustainable after COVID-19

How has COVID-19 affected the purpose and modus operandi of companies? Taking advantage of the international and collaborative nature of our network, we have made a virtual trip around the world based on the experiences of the Impact Hubs in Boston, Florianópolis, Taipei, Shanghai, Bamako, Lisbon, Vienna, and Madrid. Care to join us?

At the beginning of the year, nothing seemed to indicate that in the month of March our way of life would undergo such a drastic change as a result of the global pandemic that has hit every corner of the planet. A fact that led to the immediate establishment of remote work and the need to streamline the digitization process of most companies and which, fortunately, we have continued ever since.

The companies of the future will be based on hybrid work models, sustainability, and impact.

Taking advantage of the international nature of our organization of entrepreneurship support communities, we wanted to understand the impact of COVID-19 on work systems and business sustainability worldwide, based on the experiences of Impact Hub Boston, Florianopolis, Taipei, Shanghai, Bamako, Lisbon, Vienna and Madrid.

The conclusions are clear: the companies of the future will implement hybrid working models, while sustainability and impact will play a fundamental role in the businesses’ structure, and great importance will be given to working in multidisciplinary corporate ecosystems.

Business digitization, an opportunity for Taiwan and Mali

As for Impact Hubs, the most immediate response to the coronavirus was to increase security and establish new recommended hygiene protocols, as well as to continue serving the community but with the novelty of doing it remotely, with great support from digital tools. This factor, the communities of professionals say, both physical and virtual, is gaining strength in work systems. These tools allow you to implement online training, carry out hybrid events that connect in person and remotely, virtual memberships for remote workers, and interpersonal connections between workers in the same space. A spirit of belonging that fosters mutual help between companies and the identification of new opportunities within the network.

This is explained by Oliver Chang, CEO of Impact Hub Taipei, who has found in the digital environment not only the possibility of energizing their community remotely, online but also “we support our members in the digitization of their businesses, which will help them to react and adapt to future changes more efficiently”. He tells us about it from a less severe context than that of neighboring countries, since the Taiwanese government adopted immediate measures against the pandemic, reducing the effects of its spread.

This positive thinking is consistent with experiences in the Malian capital. The Community Director of Impact Hub Bamako, Fatouma Cisse, openly assures that the pandemic has allowed them to become aware of their full potential, especially in the digital sector, but also in local production and consumption. “Mali, being an important importing country, was forced to promote local production and consumption, which favored the creation of strategic alliances between startups,” she says.

Impact Hubs have also made available aid to economically fragile members, information on specific state aid has been provided and collections have been made for the most affected entrepreneurs, groups, and companies. In addition, digital spaces have been created for the exchange of resources, support, and a meeting point between communities, such as Impact Hub Madrid with their Impact Care program.

Communication, bonding, and collaboration skyrocketed in Spanish organizations

In order to extract the needs in the most efficient way, individual phone calls have increased to professionals and companies within the Impact Hub network, to ask them about their needs, satisfaction, and advice for improvement. By sharing information, we can take better action and respond to needs in the right ways. This practice is already common at Impact Hub since every year we survey the entire global community through the impact survey.

On a global scale, Antonio González, CEO of Impact Hub Madrid, recognizes that COVID-19 has impacted economies around the world, showing that they are interdependent and that they are needed. It has detected that this context of global emergency has strengthened the communication, link, and collaboration that already exists between all Impact Hubs: those who were at the forefront of the pandemic have served as an example to anticipate needs, identify opportunities and pursue socio-economic and environmental challenges of each country.

“We have in our hands the opportunity to redefine change on our bases, where sustainability, justice, purpose and the creation of positive impact are real axes, and we see ourselves as the environment where all these changes can be prototyped. At Impact Hub we know that the future of our planet depends on being able to integrate social and environmental ambitions in the company, at the same level that economic ambitions are now. We must bet on the triple bottom line: impact economies, a more ethical financial market and the financing of companies committed to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) ”.

Spaces like Impact Hubs were until now the natural ecosystem of startups, SMEs, entrepreneurs and non-profit organizations, and will continue to be. However, forced virtual working during the pandemic has shown large companies that, in many cases, maintaining entire offices and paying real estate per worker is an excessive expense.

Flexible work centers offer the opportunity for companies to co-exist in the same space with different types of professionals, developing a culture of synergies and collaboration, and lowering costs. Countries like China, Portugal and Spain are already recognizing the growing interest of medium and large corporations in coworking centers.

Flexible working offers financial stability because the Impact Hub can continue to promote and support entrepreneurs, startups and micro-companies, engines of business innovation.


To learn more about the other Impact Hubs, continue reading on the next article here.

This article is a translation and adaptation of this one first published here in Spanish.