Responsible Management of Shifts in Work Modes – Values for Post Pandemic Sustainability, Volume 2

Cover of Responsible Management of Shifts in Work Modes – Values for Post Pandemic Sustainability, Volume 2


Table of contents

(15 chapters)

The new post-pandemic normal reveals challenging features of living through a crisis, including a heightened sense of fear and the awareness of one’s limitations. Some of the challenges have been identified as relating to shifts in employer–employee interfaces or doctor–patient interactions; to increased effort to embrace rapid digitalisation while maintaining interpersonal relations; and to increased pressure to adapt flexibly to financial and structural changes. These are embedded in a greater (and mostly positive) consciousness of human and organisational interconnectedness.

This chapter looks at the parallel experiences of business and health systems as they endeavour to thrive during and beyond a pandemic. The authors recognise the intricate relationship between businesses and health as they feed each other’s overall growth directly or indirectly. Businesses create wealth through a healthy regard for the well-being of their stakeholders while healthcare systems are affected by their own business structures. In both cases, responsible leadership and fairness help to avoid an unhealthy prioritisation of profit.

This chapter reflects on the various routes businesses and health care can take to preserve fairness through ethical leadership. The authors focus on six stakeholders (employee, customer, shareholder, society or community, environment, and creditors) who need to be appropriately cared for and prioritised. The authors consider how promoting human competencies can affect skill acquisition, emotional intelligence, spiritual, and moral growth in both spaces. At the core of our discussion is the concept of self-leadership, which boosts the organisational leadership that in turn determines the kind of future we will have in the new normal.

Part 1: Leading the Way


The Covid-19 pandemic has continued to place intense economic and social strains on global economies and families. While rising poverty and unemployment have been worsened by the crisis, small businesses are under increasing pressure to manage burgeoning uncertainties and the corresponding economic and social challenges. No doubt, the deleterious effects of the crisis has intensified pressure on small business leaders to sustain their role in delivering responsible services.

Scholars argue that in crises, like Covid-19, the values of small business leaders are placed under scrutiny. Despite laws and regulations guiding ethical leadership especially in business, there exist challenges that are complex and not easy to address, and the pandemic situation further adds to them. The implication is that small business leaders are increasingly associated with accountability problems.

Navigating this period will require strategies for addressing the weaknesses in an existing leadership capacity in the delivery of business services, and successfully implementing ethical standards. This becomes crucial since the pandemic as an added challenge can spur on unethical leadership. The highlights of some of the key elements impacting ethical leadership during crises like Covid-19. This chapter also explores how business leaders can influence responsible behavioural change among employees for them to be creative and innovative. Additionally, an attempt will be made towards assisting small business leaders in finding responsible solutions.


The Covid-19 crisis has coerced organisations and business schools to rethink and reflect their practices about well-being and purpose individually and collectively. While this discourse was existent within academic and professional sphere, it was rather muted or isolated in the quest of pursuing traditional indicators of progress in terms of economic productivity. It is within this context we revisit our past interaction with the leader who has been advocating for responsible leadership which encompasses well-being and purpose amidst Covid-19. Arianna Huffington is the Founder and CEO of Thrive Global, which is a platform to help corporations in promoting individual and collective well-being. Formerly she was also the Co-founder and the President and Editor-in-Chief of the Huffington Post Media Group. In 2014, she received the Tesla Sustainable Leadership Award, after which one of the authors had an opportunity to interview her for the Sustainable Leadership Blog.1 A staunch advocate of issues like climate change, gender equality, work-life balance and youth empowerment, Arianna exemplifies the commitment to articulate and implement purpose-led corporations, proposing the People–Planet–Profit approach to leadership . By shedding light on Arianna’s perspective this chapter suggests reflective pointers for decision-makers in management education, these are follows: (a) business schools can lead integrating sustainability in their purpose and practice; (b) relevance of the spiritual dimension and its significance in business schools and organisations; and (c) proposing a holistic view in comparison with a traditional view of business education. Finally, we also posit that her practice as role model for responsible leadership during Covid-19 reflects consistent adherence in her past and present discourse about responsible management issues. Thus, her insights can help leaders of public, private and social organisations to grapple with complex organisational issues arising due to of Covid-19.


The breakout of the COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique set of challenges that threatened the reality of business as we knew it. Weaknesses in business structures, direction, and governance became more glaring, with ripple effects that will continue to unravel in the years to come. The adoption of corporate governance standards in Nigeria is still at low levels, and the pandemic is forcing many enterprises to take a closer look at their preparedness for an uncertain future. In this chapter, we explore the practical contribution of corporate governance to organisational success and key lessons that businesses should adopt as we accept the new realities of a post-pandemic world.


The impact of the COVID-19 (corona virus disease) pandemic across the global workforce has been nothing short of dramatic. Many organisations globally have had to adjust to massive shifts associated with the pandemic. Typically, most employees would work in proximity with themselves and their business leaders in an open plan office, most business issues will be quickly solved in a board room with big rotational chairs, a screen and huge table, feedback will be presented to employees over coffee, lunch or in the bosses office, employee engagement activities will be held in the open office or in a fun site or location, lunch hour will be filled with men and women in suits and ties looking for the best spot or spaces to take a breather. Very quickly, all these realities have been replaced with most teams working remotely or leveraging some sort of hybrid working system. Words like zoom and teams (a video conferencing app) meetings, has fast become workplace lingo, terms like social distancing, mental health, virtual teams, virtual meetings, new normal have been introduced to the work environment. This ‘new normal’ requires a huge dose of adaptation, flexibility and intentionality for organisations to survive, hence this chapter intends to make sense as well as attempt to address the implication of this work changes on the employer, employee, company culture, values and so on. As well as provide insights for possible solutions.


Covid-19 has affected the way businesses carry out their activities. It has brought to fore the fact that business activities can be brought to a standstill very quickly, and spurred entrepreneurs and managers to have working alternatives to ensure business continuity. This chapter looks at the effect of covid on the management of small- and medium-scale companies, the challenges faced by most of these businesses and the attributes needed for business continuity. The case study approach is used: a local business that survived and even thrived during and post covid lockdown is examined. From studying the way this business was responsibly led through the difficult situation that arose, we see that, for a responsible business to be a going concern, especially in face of a pandemic, certain attributes are necessary: (i) principled entrepreneurship, (ii) entrepreneurial skills, (iii) clear organisational structure, (iv) strong organisational culture and (v) effective communication.

Part 2: Leading the Way While Staying Strong


Early identification and separation of suspected Covid-19 patients at triage is vital to prevent disease transmission in healthcare settings. Triaging is a complex and context-specific process to implement especially where resources are scarce and health systems are fragile. The need to allocate these resources in a consistent, transparent, and equitable manner during the covid-19 pandemic is underpinned by ethical principles among which are utilitarianism and egalitarianism. Considerations of social identities such as age, gender, social class, and medical criteria such as comorbidities and frailty may lead to explicit and implicit bias and attendant discrimination. Theoretical constructs such as narrow social utility and reciprocity may be invoked to justify the prioritisation of healthcare workers (HCWs) infected with Covid-19 despite the pitfalls in the underlying assumptions. As no single framework exists to comprehensively guide the Covid-19 triage process, the establishment of institutional recommendations and policies within which are embedded safety nets for managing the physical, mental, and emotional fallouts on HCWs is critical.


This chapters discusses the power structures affecting access to healthcare and the quality of received care including factors like gender, ethnicity, social and economic status among others from an intersectional perspective. Structural changes are necessary to decrease the health inequalities and vulnerabilities during the pandemic. An intersectional approach helps to display the interactions of different power structures and social categories which put people at differential risk of infection and/or mortality of COVID-19. The intersectional approach should be used not only to understand the pandemic impact on people but also when planning the healthcare policies, care plans and support services.


Many organisations recently instructed employees to work from home due to lockdowns and restrictions put in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the unprecedented increase in intimate partner violence (IPV) during the same period have raised concerns about women’s risk of exposure to IPV when the home and workplace overlap during work-at-home instances. IPV is a global public health problem that negatively affects the health, safety, and productivity of victims and co-workers through various mechanisms. While IPV awareness and policies have developed slowly from an occupational health perspective, the workplace remains crucial in identifying, responding to, and offering support to victims. Thus, as part of preparing for future pandemics and considering that working at home has become the new normal, the overlap between home and the workplace cannot be ignored. This chapter discusses the role of employers and how existing guidelines about employers’ response to IPV can be applied when staff work from home.


Nigeria remains the largest economy in Africa. However, its health sector is described as weak. It continues to battle several challenges ranging from poor health infrastructure, inaccessibility of good quality health care, corruption, substandard drugs circulating, poor funding, shortage of healthcare personnel, high cost of healthcare amidst poverty-stricken masses, among others. The outbreak of Covid-19 and the global oil price crash have further impacted Nigeria’s dwindling healthcare service delivery/indicators. This chapter thus takes stock of the status of the healthcare indicators, healthcare systems, and healthcare governance in Nigeria before and during the Covid-19 pandemic to decipher the impact of the damage caused by Covid-19 on the already weak Nigeria’s health sector. It discusses healthcare indicators, system constraints and responses, and the demand and supply of health care in Nigeria in the era of Covid-19. This chapter shows how Covid-19 has negatively and positively affected the healthcare sector in Nigeria. However, the negative impact remains overwhelming and has potentially grave consequences. This study thus develops a policy framework and time-tested strategy to recover Nigeria’s health sector while factoring in the present capabilities of Nigeria’s health sector. This study thus recommends that adequate infrastructure investment and welfare for healthcare workers are important for the recovery of Nigeria’s health sector.


Uganda’s health service delivery structure includes village health teams (VHTs), grass root structures that comprise volunteers that deliver basic health services and education. VHTs do COVID-19 surveillance and rural environments are likely to be more affected by COVID-19 than the urban environments. Standard operating procedures for prevention of COVID-19 necessitate use of basic necessities, such as water, soap or masks which are not easily affordable. The VHTs as first responders in the rural areas are at times poorly facilitated and this puts their lives at risk of infection. This study applied a qualitative approach where data were collected using in-depth interviews with VHT members, community members and local leaders. Twenty-two study participants were conveniently sampled from 12 villages. The interviewees were conducted by telephone as a precaution of observing and adhering to Uganda’s COVID-19 pandemic response that included a total lockdown. Data were analysed using Nvivo and categorised in themes and patterns. Findings indicate that VHTs do health monitoring and provide reliable information regarding COVID-19 to the community members. VHTs work despite being amidst material and financial constraints. Hence, they are very helpful in resource- and health care-constrained rural communities. The rural environments were associated with lack of awareness on the pandemic, poverty, low levels of education, reluctance in complying with the presidential directives with regard to responding and preventing COVID-19, inadequate protective gears, among others.


The world today is predicated on constant change driven by globalisation, economic restructuring, climate change, conflict crises, and the Covid-19 pandemic. People, businesses, and government are swiftly impacted by job and profit loss, a shift in knowledge, learning poverty, pressures, and adaptability. In addition, the twenty-first-century labour market is increasingly asking for advanced skills as many jobs experience digital transformation in the workplace.

The nature of work and the structure of employment are reinventing. The Covid-19 pandemic has created challenges that require responsive safety nets critical to prevent these hardships. An option of working from home was only for a relatively privileged segment of the labour force and colleagues may never meet personally. A new pattern of work may emerge changing how people worked and live. Such circumstances could be psychologically and financially taxing. Accordingly, businesses and individuals need to navigate this challenging space by developing different skills and resilient attitudes to be relevant in the new world of work.

Resilience is a positive attitude that is built to help people overcome significant challenges to achieve their goals. In the present context of work, resilient attitudes can necessitate proactively growing skills in such areas as adaptability, persistence, problem-solving in addition to foundational literacy. Building resilience will not only benefit the individual but the business also gains continued success.


Given the special challenges identified for businesses and health systems during a pandemic, the authors look in this chapter at various qualities and virtues that enable flourishing post pandemic. The classical virtues of humility, fortitude, and patience are discussed alongside others more specific to a post pandemic situation – endurance, adaptability, flexibility, and toughness – and necessary for sustaining healthy businesses and profitable health systems.

Having in mind how principles and practices can be value-driven and people-centred, the authors review the ethics and principles that have guided major medical decisions over time. Several of these are insufficient for human flourishing or eudemonia and, if the authors are to ensure that foundational principles for business and healthcare are fully oriented to moral ends, then a greater turn towards the right ethical standards for all human actions is important post pandemic.

In this chapter, the authors reflect on varying personal narratives of the pandemic experience, as well as the chapter content of the book contributors, to suggest collective lessons for humanity. The authors conclude that increased flexibility, with new ways to be accountable, sustainable, and ethical, is essential. The authors also identify that, to meet the challenges of remote working, including working from home, more team spirit, solidarity, and loyalty are needed.

Education towards understanding the ethical foundations of responsibility and sustainability is important. It would enhance the acquisition of virtues that move emotions, knowledge, choices, and action towards promoting the flourishing of and protecting human beings, human society, and planet, and towards increasingly orienting business profits towards the good.

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