The Bright Side Of Covid-19: Seven Opportunities Of The Current Pandemic

The coronavirus pandemic has a lot of dark sides. Around the world, people get ill and die, schools close, the healthcare system is overloaded, employees lose their jobs, companies face bankruptcy, stock markets collapse and countries have to spend billions on bailouts and medical aid. And for everyone, whether directly hurt or not, Covid-19 is a huge stressor shaking up our psyche, triggering our fears and uncertainties.

No matter how serious and sad all of this is, there are upsides as well. Therefore, along the Monty Python song “Always look on the bright side of life” let’s not forget those and make the best of what the crisis gives us. As the good old SWOT analysis tells us, there are not only threats, but also opportunities. With opportunities I don’t mean that the crisis provides extra business for companies like Zoom and Go to Webinar that enable virtual meetings, or for Amazon, which is planning to hire another 100,000 employees. The latter is probably more a threat than an opportunity for most, especially for the mom & pop stores that go through difficult times already.

With opportunities I mean general opportunities that are available for most people affected by the crisis. The current crisis offers at least seven of them:

Opportunity 1: More time

In today’s overheated economy time is often seen as the most valuable and sparse thing we have. Covid-19 shows why: because we have stacked our week with social gatherings and entertainment such as going to the theater, birthdays, cinema, restaurant, bar, sportclub, gym, music, festivals, concerts and what is more. Suddenly, all of that is cancelled or forbidden, giving us significant amounts of extra time. And still, live goes on. This shows us how easy it is to clear our calendars. Obviously this doesn’t apply to the health-care sector and other crucial sectors, but beyond those it applies to a large majority of sectors.

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The opportunity is that we can spend this time on other things—or even better, on nothing and enjoy the free time. Looking at the crowded parks, waste collection points, garden centres and DIY stores in the last week, many people seem to have a hard time with the latter. Instead of enjoying the extra free time, they fill it immediately with other activities. To seize this first opportunity though, re-arranging how you spend your time and reserving time for nothingness is key. Not just during the crisis, but also after it. The advices in my previous article on the Covid-19 crisis could help in realizing this.

Opportunity 2: Reflect and reconsider

The fact that the coronavirus disrupts our day-t0-day lives provides an opportunity to reflect on things and to reconsider what we do, how we do it and why we do it. Things we took for granted—like going to the gym—are suddenly not possible anymore. Furthermore, many people have had to change their mode of working and work from home instead of at the office. This means that a lot of our routines are interrupted. MORE FOR YOUWhy KPIs Don’t Work; And How To Fix ThemHow Cisco Takes Care Of Its EmployeesWhat Business Leaders Can Learn From The Special Forces

This offers a great opportunity to rethink our habits and routines and make changes. Now that you haven’t been able to go to the restaurant twice a week, commute 2 hours per day, hang out with your friends or go to a party every weekend, you can reflect on whether you really want to continue doing so after the crisis. The virus forces you to make changes to your daily life that you might actually want to keep also after the crisis.

Opportunity 3: Speed and innovation

Many organizations suffer from slow procedures, complex bureaucracies and rigid hierarchies making organizational life less than pleasant. The coronavirus has forced many of them to break through these rigid systems and act instantly. Suddenly procedures can be skipped or accelerated, rules can be side-tracked and decisions can be made more autonomously without formal approval. And suddenly employees are allowed to work from home without direct supervision.

Covid-19 shows that, as soon as there is a strong enough stimulus, things can change. This leads to remarkable innovations. Not being allowed to open their doors, restaurants, for example, are shifting to delivery mode. And schools suddenly do much of the teaching and even some of the testing online. This brings the opportunity to create innovations now that can be maintained after the crisis. And it also can help to keep the current speed and innovation mode afterwards.

Opportunity 4: Better meetings

As referred to in an earlier article, people spend up to 23 hours per week in meetings, half of which are considered a failure or waste of time. The current crisis has forced us to rethink how we deal with meetings. Because in many countries it is not allowed anymore to meet with a group of persons, many meetings are cancelled. And when they still take place they are mostly virtual and shorter.

As such, it provides an excellent opportunity for resolving one of the most disliked parts of organizational life. The technology for this is already present and mature for a couple of years, but the coronavirus triggers a sudden need for it. The real opportunity here is to make systematic changes so that meetings will be more effective, also after the crisis.

Opportunity 5: Reconnect and help

Challenging times offer a great opportunity for social bonding and other ways of connecting to and helping people. Of course, not being able to visit friends or family has increased isolation and feelings of loneliness in some cases. But the feeling of “we’re in this together” has also triggered interesting ways of connecting. Some of those have gone viral—such as Italians singing together from their windows and balconies—but there are many small, local initiatives too to connect and help people who need it.

In the individualized societies many of us live in, this provides opportunities to reconnect and create more social coherence. Not only during the crisis, but also afterwards. This opportunity comes with a big caveat though. Parallel to these nice initiatives we also witness how far people go to protect themselves and their families. People hoard food, medicine, toilet paper and guns without thinking a second of others. However, while it triggers self-serving egocentric behavior too, the Covid-19 crisis does provide us the opportunity to reconnect and show our social side.

Opportunity 6: Cleaner environment

The virus caused a shutdown or dramatical decrease of industrial activities. Factories are closed or operate far below their capacity, road traffic has reduced radically and air traffic collapsed, and the lack of tourism has emptied the streets in overcrowded cities like Venice, Amsterdam and New York. While this may be bad news for most people and especially those working in the affected industries, this is also good news for our planet. Covid-19 causes a significant reduction in green house gasses and other air, water and land polluting outputs. In Venice this has allegedly led to dolphins return after just a couple of weeks (although some argued this to be a hoax).

Whether the particular example is a hoax or not is not so relevant. The fact is that the shutdown and lockdown of large parts of our economy is good for nature—at least on the short term. The opportunity this provides, is to keep parts of this in place also after the crisis to make long-term improvements. Along the line of the previous opportunities, the current crisis provides us an opportunity to reconsider our lives and reorganize it in a way that has less impact on our planet.

Opportunity 7: Modesty and acceptance

The final opportunity that the Covid-19 crisis offers, is a chance to create awareness for the moderate role we play on this planet and accept that things cannot always go as we want them to go. The Covid-19 pandemic is a global crisis chat is unprecedented in modern peace time. We had other pandemics like SARS, but their impact was less substantial. And we had the 1973 oil crisis, but that was a man-made crisis. The coronavirus is not man-made and yet disrupts lives across the planet.

As such, the virus shows us that, no matter how well-planned and organized we are and no matter how much we live in the Anthropocene—the era characterized by significant human impact—we are not in control. One simple virus is disrupting everything. This offers a great opportunity. In almost every aspect of life we want to be in control. Whether it is health, airline safety or our calendars, we live in the illusion that full control is possible. The virus can help us create awareness that this is not the case. It provides an opportunity to take a more modest role and accept that many things are simply beyond our control.

Once again, the Covid-19 crisis has a large dark side. But as these seven opportunities show, it has positive sides as well. Since all seven opportunities require a quite fundamental change in how we approach the world, seizing them can take substantial time. In that sense, and if we keep on looking at the brighter sides of life, the longer the crisis lasts, the larger the opportunities are and the bigger the chances are of actually making changes to our deeply rooted habits and convictions. Follow me on Twitter or LinkedIn. Check out my website or some of my other work here.

Jeroen Kraaijenbrink

 Jeroen Kraaijenbrink

I help companies do strategy through training, mentoring and consulting. My drive is to bring you and your organization to the next level with strategy approaches that work. I wrote “Strategy Consulting,” “Nor More Bananas,” and “The Strategy Handbook.” Reach out to me via jeroenkraaijenbrink.com,  LinkedIn or jk@kraaijenbrink.com

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Pat Flynn 282K subscribers 26 million Americans are without a job right now, and that’s just in the U.S. alone. It’s a terrible situation, one that I’m all too familiar with myself having gotten laid off during the recession in 2008. These are tough times, but there are opportunities within them, too. I was able to build a business back in 2008 as a result of getting laid off, and I imagine that those who focus on the future, and the ability to create something new now, are the ones who are going to come out of this dire situation best.

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Five Lessons From The Pandemic Light A Path Forward To The Future Of Work

Finally, we are nearing the end of the 2020 tunnel and seeing encouraging glimmers of light. While the pandemic is not yet under control, we do have promising vaccine news as 2021 approaches, and many countries in the Asia-Pacific region have returned to on-site work. We see stabilization in US government after months of uncertainty, and the beginning of commitment and action to address longstanding racial and social justice inequities.

At a more granular level, these months of operating in survival mode have provided valuable insight into how organizations and people can truly move forward from this disruption and position themselves to navigate the future disruptions that are bound to occur. In short, we see a path toward thriving, not merely surviving.

The lessons learned over the past eight months bring sharp focus to global human capital trends that have been evolving for years—trends in well-being, reskilling, superteams (combining humans with machines), workforce strategies, and the role of HR. Even more, these lessons reinforce the overarching need to build the human element into everything an organization does in order to create lasting value for workers, organizations, and society at large.

1. Human potential is our greatest untapped asset.

Organizations have tended to think about what people can do in terms of the bullet points on their resumes and job descriptions. But none of us really knows what we’re capable of and what our limits are until we’re tested and pushed to those limits. The past eight months have been a defining test. They’ve taught us that people can operate differently. They can adapt and perform in ways far beyond what their jobs and roles specifically call for and do what has to get done.

We must now challenge how we think about the workforce and use technology to help identify and unleash human potential within and beyond the organization. This includes retaining the magic that comes from empowering people to break through hierarchy and bureaucracy, lead at all levels, and roll up their sleeves to get the job done.

2. True top-of-the house leadership looks like nothing we’ve seen before.

For years we’ve talked about “tone at the top” and the importance of top-down leadership. Now we have stellar examples of what that looks like: examples of CEOs being more transparent and human than they’ve ever been before. This includes opening dialogues on tough issues like racism and well-being and allowing them to be front and center, and generally leaning into issues that go way past the traditional C-suite agenda.

Senior leaders now have the opportunity to embody the organization’s purpose—its set of values supporting economic, social, and human interests—to infuse meaning into work that mobilizes employees around common, meaningful goals.

3. Leadership and culture are about connection and empowerment.

As people isolated at home, team leaders became the organization’s lifeline. It became their responsibility to not only focus on outcomes and organize the work accordingly, but also think about the moments that mattered culturally and foster trust in the organization. If they didn’t have empathy, listening skills, the trust of their teams, and the ability to communicate, manage, and lead, work suffered or at times didn’t get done at all.

Going forward, leaders and teams at all levels (not just higher levels) must develop capabilities that enable them to work and lead effectively while supporting the human needs of their team and representing the organization’s culture.

4. Work is the most underutilized source of value.

Work is more than simply the output it produces. It’s a powerful human force—a way for people to connect to a purpose, feel motivated, build relationships, and showcase their true capabilities. Yet no one is responsible for driving work transformation, keeping up with the pace of change, or harnessing what it can bring to the enterprise.

Organizations now have the opportunity to re-architect work for the future, not as a mechanized process, but as a flow that aligns with ways humans think and engage, and that continues to evolve. By its handling of COVID-19 challenges, HR has earned the right to spearhead this effort on behalf of the organization.

5. Ecosystems are essential to extend organizational capabilities.

The sheer enormity of the past year’s challenges proved the value of being able to leverage external partners and resources to accomplish what organizations couldn’t do on their own. For example, one transportation industry CEO related to us that, given the company has no Chief Medical Officer, he was able to enlist a top academic medical center to provide that guidance. In another example, we’re working with a group of 10 CHROs to build a cross-organizational learning program aimed at moving Black and Latinx professionals from the director to the executive level.

Going forward, organizations should deliberately cultivate an ecosystem of partners, vendors, alternative workers, and professional networks, realizing it’s the new reality of how work gets done.

From hard-learned experience to a leap forward

It would be a tremendous waste to treat the past year as a detour—a momentary delay that leads us right back to the path we were on. Instead, we need to treat 2020 as a shortcut that showed us how to leapfrog to our desired destination: a place where we’re not merely surviving, but thriving.

With the end of 2020 in sight, we have the means to createthe light we want to step into. There’s no “waiting for a better time”—the time is now. We’ll be sharing more insights on how organizations can get this done in the coming weeks in Deloitte’s 2021 Global Human Capital Trends (sign up to receive a copy here).

This piece was co-authored by Jeff Schwartz, principal and US leader for the Future of Work, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

Erica Volini

Erica Volini

Erica Volini is the Global Human Capital leader for Deloitte Consulting. Throughout her career, she has worked with some of the world’s leading organizations to link their business and human capital strategies. She is a frequent speaker on how market trends are shaping the future of work and the HR profession and is a recognized thought leader in the trends shaping the world of human capital today.

Steve Hatfield

Steve Hatfield

Steve Hatfield is a Principal with Deloitte Consulting and serves as the Global Leader for Future of Work for Deloitte. He has over 20 years of experience advising global organizations on issues of strategy, innovation, organization, people, culture, and change.

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IAEAvideo

A new global initiative will use nuclear science to better manage pandemic threats, such as COVID-19. The IAEA Zoonotic Disease Integrated Action (ZODIAC) project will establish a global network to help national laboratories in monitoring, surveillance, early detection and control of animal and zoonotic diseases such as COVID-19, Ebola, avian influenza and Zika. ZODIAC is based on the technical, scientific and laboratory capacity of the IAEA and its partners and the Agency’s mechanisms to quickly deliver equipment and know-how to countries. Subscribe for more videos: http://goo.gl/VxsqCz Follow IAEA on social media: Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/iaeaorg/ Twitter – https://twitter.com/iaeaorg Google+ – https://plus.google.com/+iaea Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/iaeaorg/ LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/company/iaea © IAEA Office of Public Information and Communication http://iaea.org

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Global Covid-19 Infections Surpass 40 Million, 1.1 Million Deaths

The number of new Covid-19 infections around the world continues to grow, passing the grim milestone of 40 million on Monday morning as much of Europe and the U.S. struggle to contain a new surge in infections, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.   

Key Facts

The U.S. leads the world with over 8 million confirmed cases, with nearly 220,000 deaths.

India and Brazil have also been hit hard by the novel coronavirus, with 7.6 million and 5.2 million cases and around 150,000 and 115,000 deaths respectively. 

It took just one month for cases around the world to swell from 30 million to 40 million. 

Key Facts: 

This number is likely to be a gross underestimation of Covid-19 cases around the world, relying on official data of confirmed cases. Not all those who have caught Covid-19 will be tested, especially if symptoms are mild. Test availability is inconsistent around the world, further hindering accurate reporting of cases. Some countries have been accused of deliberately lying and deceiving about the number of cases they’ve had. 

Further Reading

Global coronavirus cases hit 40 million as second wave gathers pace (CNBC)

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Nearly 30 Million People Have Contracted Covid-19 Around The World (Forbes)

Global coronavirus cases surpass the 40 million milestone (Reuters)

Russia’s covid-19 outbreak is far worse than the Kremlin admits (Economist)

Full coverage and live updates on the CoronavirusFollow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

Robert Hart

 Robert Hart

I am a London-based reporter for Forbes covering breaking news. Previously, I have worked as a reporter for a specialist legal publication covering big data and as a freelance journalist and policy analyst covering science, tech and health. I have a master’s degree in Biological Natural Sciences and a master’s degree in the History and Philosophy of Science from the University of Cambridge. Follow me on Twitter @theroberthart or email me at rhart@forbes.com 

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Our top story this morning. Global COVID-19 infections have now surpassed 40 million,… after seeing an increase of one million over the last three days alone. Lee Seung-jae reports. COVID-19 has now infected over 40 million people worldwide,… since the first cases were identified in Wuhan, China last December. The death toll currently stands at over 1-point-1 million,… with a mortality rate of 2-point-8 percent. With an average of one million cases being reported every three days,…

The world is seeing some of the biggest single day jumps since the initial outbreak,… with numbers exceeding 400-thousand in a single day on Friday,… for the first time ever. Among the worst hit countries in the world,… the U.S. remains at the top with over 8-point-3 million cases and 224-thousand deaths. The worst may yet to come for the U.S.,… as the nation’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci warned last week,… that the country is “facing a whole lot of trouble” heading into the winter months. According to data by Johns Hopkins University,…

Average daily cases were already up by more than 5-percent in 36 states and the District of Columbia. Europe continues to see its infections reach all-time highs,… including Italy,…which registered 10-thousand-925 cases on Saturday,… surpassing its previous record posted the day before. France and Germany also reported record daily cases on Saturday,… as new restrictions went into effect. France reported over 32-thousand cases in a 24 hour span,… as the country deployed 12-thousand extra police officers to enforce their latest quarantine measures. The continent is seeing the fastest increase in COVID-19 cases,… and has so far seen over 6-point-7 million cases and more than 237-thousand deaths. Lee Seung-jae, Arirang News. 2020-10-19, 07:00 (KST) #COVID19 #US #Europe 📣 Arirang News(Facebook) : https://www.facebook.com/arirangtvnews 📣 Arirang News(Twitter) : https://twitter.com/arirangtvnews 📣 News Center(YouTube) : https://www.youtube.com/c/NEWSCENTER_…

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Hospital Beds Filling, Bars Closing With Nearly All Threshold

Countries across Europe are imposing new restrictions as the second wave of coronavirus infections that’s swept across the region since summer-time has recently taken a turn for the worse—seeping into older, more vulnerable populations and driving a surge in hospitalizations.

Key Facts

All but three European countries—Cyprus, Finland and Norway—have reached the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control’s (ECDC) coronavirus alarm threshold, which designates countries reporting above 20 cases per 100,000 residents on a seven-day average at high risk.

The ECDC’s most recent report, published last Thursday, also noted the rising death rate in Europe and identified sustained case increases in 27 countries, many of which are reporting more new infections than in the spring (though better detection methods play a factor). 

Among the countries faring the worst, the Czech Republic, reporting 22,179 cases and 158 deaths in the past week, enacted a second state of emergency Monday, while Madrid has entered a partial lockdown, barring non-essential travel to and from the city, as Spain reports nearly 10,000 new cases per day. 

France’s capital, which moved into a state of “maximum alert” on Monday as 30% of emergency beds in hospitals filled, leading to the closure of Paris bars and cafés, may be on the verge of tougher restrictions as the number of Covid-19 patients in emergency beds jumped to 40% on Tuesday. 

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Brussels, which has overtaken Paris and trails only Madrid in terms of infections per capita among Europe’s major cities, also announced it is shutting down bars and cafés in the city for a month on Wednesday. 

Meanwhile, a slew of other countries, including Ireland and Scotland, are mulling tough new restrictions.

Key Background 

While France, Spain, the Czech Republic and the U.K. are reporting higher numbers of new cases on average than they were during the peak of their spring outbreaks, the crisis isn’t as severe as it was through March and April. However, European authorities are concerned that rising infections, which have begun to spill into older populations, could soon bring hospitals back to the brink.

Crucial Quote 

“The enemy hasn’t been defeated yet,” said Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte last weekend, calling on Italians to be careful as to avoid a return to stricter pandemic measures. Italy, once the centre of the coronavirus pandemic, was the first country in the world to activate a nationwide lockdown in March.

Further Reading 

“British universities re-open with students locked-down and forced to care for infected classmates” (The New York Times) 

“As Second Covid-19 Wave Rolls Through Europe, Deaths and Hospitalizations Rise” (The Wall Street Journal)

Full coverage and live updates on the Coronavirus/Follow me on Twitter. Send me a secure tip.

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I’m a British-born reporter covering breaking news for Forbes.

 Jemima McEvoy

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There are mounting concerns the pandemic will cause a global recession. It has been another torrid day on the markets. Stocks plunged around the world, despite a coordinated effort by central banks to protect growth and jobs. Al Jazeera’s Neave Barker begins our coverage with a look at the situation around Europe. –

Subscribe to our channel: http://aje.io/AJSubscribe – Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AJEnglish – Find us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aljazeera – Check our website: https://www.aljazeera.com/ #AlJazeeraEnglish #Coronavirus #Europe

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How New Zealand Used Evidence-Based Policies to Beat The Pandemic

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The day the US mourned reaching a tragic milestone – 100,000 novel coronavirus deaths – people on the other side of the world in New Zealand celebrated a much more hopeful one: No new coronavirus cases over the prior five days.

What’s more, the country’s last hospitalized coronavirus patient was discharged, officials said during a press briefing on May 27, according to CBS. Now, only 21 people in the country have active COVID-19 cases.

Overall, the country confirmed about 1,500 cases and 21 deaths, according to Johns Hopkins’ Coronavirus Resource Centre. Meanwhile, the US has confirmed 1.74 million cases (and counting) and, again, more than 100,000 deaths.

Of course, New Zealand is a much smaller country, with a population of 4.8 million to the US’s 328.2 million, and more sparsely populated too – 46 people per square mile compared to 94 people per square mile in the US.

That alone hinders the coronavirus’s ability to spread. But overall, like Australia, the country has reported smaller-than-average coronavirus cases and deaths when compared to other Western nations.

“Here in New Zealand, we are all very aware of how lucky we are, and we connect with colleagues overseas and really feel for them,” Auckland City Hospital intensive-care specialist Chris Poynter previously told Business Insider.

Experts say it’s more than luck, but rather early lockdown efforts, citizen’s adherence to the rules, widespread testing and contact tracing, and good communication that are the keys to its success.

New Zealand issued national lockdown efforts early

Beginning February 3, New Zealand began imposing restrictions on travel – even though it had no known cases, Insider’s Rosie Perper previously reported.

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It recorded its first case February 28 and less than a month later had 102 confirmed cases. At that point, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern raised the country’s alert to Level 3 restrictions, which closed schools, cancelled mass gatherings, and allowed people to speak to their doctors online.

Two days later, the country progressed to Level 4 restrictions, issuing stay-at-home orders country-wide and severely limiting travel. “At least for New Zealand, it was relatively prompt action at an early stage to go for a strong lockdown,” Nick Wilson, a professor and public health expert at the University of Otago in New Zealand, told Perper.

Citizens largely obeyed stay-at-home guidelines

New Zealanders followed those restrictions in earnest, and there’s data to prove it. “The Google data shows that New Zealanders have followed the lockdown rules … with a remarkably high level of behaviour change,” Wilson wrote in an April 12 blog post.

“Activity dropped almost instantly, by over 90 percent from baseline levels in some categories,” he added. That led to a levelling off of cases just 10 days after lockdown measures were put in place, he said.

The country instituted widespread testing and contact tracing

According to CBS, New Zealand conducted a total of 267,435 coronavirus tests, and on May 20, it released the NZ Covid Tracer app.

While released later than other countries like Singapore, the app will help to ensure the country doesn’t experience a surge in cases as it begins to ease lockdowns. According to the American Enterprise Institute it works by allowing users to scan a QR code at entry points at various venues.

If later, they test positive for the COVID-19, contact tracers can review where the person has been and decide whether to follow up with the venues to alert them of their potential risk.

The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention calls contact tracing “part of a multipronged approach” to tackle the coronavirus pandemic. Testing and tracing, taken together, “are the backbone of public-health work,” Insider’s Hilary Brueck reported.

The Prime Minister communicated well and is trusted by the public

According to Wilson, “New Zealand shows the benefit of having quite high levels of scientific expert input into the policymaking process and a Prime Minister who is a very good communicator who the public trust.”

Arden was also praised for taking a 20 percent pay cut, along with other top government officials.

By: Anna Medaris Miller, BUSINESS INSIDER

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