Following on from our recent blog and podcast episode exploring ‘Life as an entrepreneur in a woke world’, we thought we’d continue with this theme and delve into a few areas that whilst exciting and full of opportunity for many people, there is a degree of hot air surrounding them. Topics such as the metaverse, anti-woke/ESG funds and the digitisation of everything post-Covid. Our CEO, Daniel Hansen, was recently in conversation with our brand specialist Lauren Marks exchanging personal views on these areas if you’d prefer to listen into our thoughts. As always, we are open to different ideas and ways to frame things!

So why these areas? We are finding them to be more of a consideration for entrepreneurs compared to pre-Covid times. When the media talks about the pre- and post-Covid period, they major on the changes to all things work. However, what is now clear is that the Covid years did more than simply change our working styles. They paved the way for what is now greater freedom of speech, with people reinforcing their beliefs and attitudes over-and-over on platforms which get them noticed by lots of people in a short space of time. Whilst this has been a good thing for many areas of society – with better outcomes for groups such as parents returning to work after having a child and them experiencing more fairness in how they are treated by their employers, or women and how they are treated when going through the menopause, or fairer rights for minority groups, there seems to be a lot more factors for businesses to consider and strategise around. And dare we say it, a lot more people to try not to offend (even if there is no intention to do so in the first place).

The first area that is much more prevalent as a topic to consider post-Covid, is the metaverse and how much of an opportunity it presents for budding entrepreneurs, but also existing businesses and entrepreneurs. Here are our thoughts on what we know and how we are cutting through the hot air that surrounds the metaverse:

  • From a business perspective, there is enough capital behind it now, which means that opportunities can be realised. However, just because it is well funded doesn’t mean that it will be of value to everyone
  • Less travelling because of someone’s existence in the metaverse and this being recognised as a valid appearance is never going to be a bad thing
  • However, it is still too early to really assess how much of an impact it will have, and we question how fluffy it is for full-blown adoption into more traditional business areas
  • From an investment perspective and more specifically buying real estate, this isn’t the smartest idea in our opinion
  • When it comes to conducting meetings and conferences, relationships matter and the metaverse will not, in our opinion, generate a better outcome compared to the real world
  • The metaverse should absolutely be seen as a source of jobs and value creation for the next generation and beyond
  • For some organisations that are a little more traditional and perhaps out of touch in the real world, investing in the metaverse may be a way to be seen as cool (but with not much intention beyond this). This type of behaviour will devalue it

The second area that has gained a lot more press coverage post-Covid is anti-woke/ESG funds. Funds that have been set up to rebel against the pressure placed on funds and their investors to invest in ethically sound and/or green businesses – and likely receive a lower return financially, because this is no longer the primary objective. Such funds only back companies that focus only on their business and do not take any ideological stands. Back in November 2022, it was reported that an anti-ESG exchange traded fund attracted $315mn in less than a month and this is not surprising news to anyone. Whilst we do not agree in investing in anything and everything simply because it generates a great financial return, we do feel there is a lot of confusing rhetoric surrounding climate change/ESG and balance is much needed to ensure the importance of it isn’t lost. Our thoughts on these funds:

  • The language that the world is using in relation to climate change suggests that we need to switch off from carbon-heavy industries today and immediately switch to greener resources tomorrow. But we are not as developed as we need to be when it comes to solutions and infrastructure. You cannot just switch something off if there is nothing to replace it with
  • The narrative, which is fuelling these anti-woke/ESG funds, is that you are either the good or bad guy when it comes to acting in a green way. All or nothing approaches rarely generate the best results in business and we need a longer playbook as to how the switchover can happen whilst balancing the essence of investor needs – their financial return
  • The road to a cleaner greener world needs to have more realistic goggles on and a sharp reminder that we are still living in a world where we are heavily reliant on less than green resources. A better move is for every investment into a not so green industry that we are reliant on as a world still anyway (because we don’t have the resources/infrastructure yet to switch it off), a larger investment is made into something as close to fully green

The third and final area that has become a source of debate post-Covid is ‘tech for tech’s sake’. Prior to Covid, many of us had never used a video conferencing platform, we picked up a hard copy newspaper for our commute into the physical office, and preferred shopping in an actual supermarket as opposed to online, which was seen as a little risky with a high chance of a technological glitch and us ending up with 50 rather than 5 bananas. Fast forward and it could be argued that we are tech-first over physical presence. On a positive note, technology has allowed many organisations to conduct business in geographies and with people they may not have otherwise met. Businesses of today are deemed global without having any office footprint. Have we gone too far the other way with technology? Our thoughts:

  • Technology has achieved something that we have wanted for years – more efficient working. However, for many, it has led to overworking as there is never a switch off button or an office to leave, which signals the end of the day
  • Technology can be too evasive when it comes to somebody’s life and now dictates how much balance they have with actual places and people. Rather than creating rules around tech usage, we feel that people need to look at the culture within workplaces and inside family units, as this dictates the tech norm and, for example, whether you instead eat your lunch in a communal office area to catch up on the weekend (as opposed to at your desk in front of your laptop), or you sit as a family and play a boardgame after dinner (as opposed to returning to a laptop or mobile phone to finish off a piece of work)
  • We think that now Covid has lost most of its power over us, organisations can be certain that there will not be any further hurdles like we experienced. Rather than going back to how things were, they should work out what work means to them and who they want to be as a brand. And then factor technology into the enablement of this, but not as a force that takes over and changes the organisational culture over time, which it certainly has the ability to do.

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