The importance of being resilient.
When we sent last year’s spring outing of The Entrepreneurs to press, the world was experiencing the full effect of the pandemic’s first wave. At monocle, as everywhere during that unprecedented time, we had been forced in a matter of days to rethink how our business could work – how we could get magazines made and radio shows produced, how we could stay in touch with our readers and listeners. The rapidly altered landscape of work resulted in us designing, writing and editing pages from kitchen tables and home offices, and spending way too much time on video calls.
A year on and we are all still living with the pandemic but the business world is far from shuttered (and I am pleased to say that the monocle team is back at its Midori House HQ). Indeed, many companies have taken some hits yet managed to dust themselves off, regroup and come back stronger. Of course, too many lives have been lost in the past year. But for businesses in all sectors, and of all scales, this often sobering experience has ultimately been an empowering one. Again and again, company owners have told us about pivots that allowed them to flourish, how they brought to fruition projects that had been allowed to stay dormant for far too long and how they finally knew what mattered.
So as we headed out to talk to entrepreneurs this time, we wondered what the mood would be and how everyone’s confidence levels were faring. The responses that we received have been unequivocal: it has been tough but we have big plans and we are making them happen.
Take one of the hardest-hit sectors: hospitality. In Uruguay we headed to the resort of José Ignacio and discovered hotel owners who are thriving by refocusing on their home market. It’s a similar story in Japan where the fourth-generation owner of the prestigious Hoshino Resorts minimised losses by bringing in domestic travellers and is now back in expansion mode. Or how about players in the cultural sector? Well, in Paris the new Hotel Paradiso has flourished thanks to its concept of offering rooms with film screens as big as the beds. Or property? In Brussels we headed over to the repurposed dock district of Tour & Taxis to discover new offices and headquarters for growing brands. It’s another project that has stayed on track.
So how will the world of work have changed when the pandemic eventually fades? Well, frankly, it’s still too hard to say what will be permanent and what will stick. In the US there has definitely been an exodus from big northern cities to warmer, more southerly bases – our report on Miami shows how that city is luring people in, although its low taxes also help. And in Europe nomadic technology entrepreneurs have headed to Portugal’s Ericeira, where they can surf and work with ease. Does that mean that traditional business cities and offices are doomed? Far from it. Nora Fehlbaum, ceo at key office-furniture player Vitra, points to something more fascinating: an immediate future where staff use offices in different ways, according to their roles (the digital crew might spend less time in the workplace than the teams for whom collaboration is key).
And you? As always, we want this magazine to introduce you to role models, show some benchmarks for success and encourage you to start, grow and adapt your businesses. The next few months could be an exciting time of possibility and reconnection. Isn’t it time you made your move?