The 1.5 hr economy, sanity seats and the ‘Homo Hygienius’: business ideas for the post-corona era

As a business leader you’re now looking for concrete ideas on how to deal with the impact of covid-19 in the short term and thereafter. In this piece I’m sharing some concrete ideas. Both small and big. Keep in mind: look closely at what is happening to consumer behaviour now and in the near future, as that will drive (future) needs.

So, here we go. The ideas are cross-over sectors. They’re partly based on last week’s post. Some might sound obvious, most of them hopefully not;) The devil is as always in the detail of execution.

Space-bars and sanity seats

I don’t believe we will inherit an overall ‘1,5 meter economy’, as this is simply not always feasible (profits per m2) in every occasion. And we know by now 1,5m in many cases is not the holy grail. For certain places though it’s an effective solution. So, airlines, hotels, restaurants, bars, but also sports and concerts at big locations will reassess their spaces and number of seats and take additional measures with the help of tech. So…

Sanity is the new sustainability. We will see the rise of ‘space-bars’, ‘open restaurants’ and ‘sanity seats’ in planes. ‘Safe Stadiums’ for concerts and sports events where people will not be allowed when they are ‘suspected’. Tech will track and trace. Far-going in some countries, lighter in others. Hospitality outlets, airlines and businesses with similar models will discover it’s a competitive advantage to create more space and less seats at a somewhat higher price. If positioned the right way, many people love to pay a bit more to stay healthy and save lives. Hygienic measures, such as hand sanitizers at entrances and exits, will further help create cleaner spaces. Businesses: travel, airlines, hospitality, hotels, F&B, entertainment.

Online learning beyond schools

This is not just for schools and universities. Yes, online education all over will take a massive flight, from young kids to business coaching. But also as a business you’re now forced to rethink how you educate your people. New business models might come out of this, as you might be able to scale the digital model in some sort of platform outside your company. Think of partners within your ecosystem to collaborate with. Businesses: schools, universities, business education, coaching.

The ‘1.5 hour economy’

Reassessing time spent in locations where big groups of people gather could be a sane driver for new business models. Why not limit the time you can spend in a supermarket? An app can tell you exactly what the quickest route is to run your errants in 10 minutes. The 1.5hr restaurant? Why not. In most cases, 1.5 hour is enough to eat your meal and have your glass of wine (also better for your health;). The 1.5 hr cinema? Who spends 3 hours watching one movie nowadays anyway? For binge watching, #stayhome and enjoy Netflix. Businesses: hospitality, F&B, retail, entertainments, sports.

‘Homo Hygienius’ leads by example

Everywhere in the world we will see the ‘homo hygienius’ pop up. They are the firstmovers and lead the way in living a healthy and hygienic life. They show us how. Soon, this will ‘infect’ majorities. Insurers will reward the ‘homo hygienius’ with lower fees. Insurers and health advisers will change their conditions and more pressure will be put on people to stay healthy and live up to new hygiene needs. This will ask a lot of change in behaviour, especially of groups were awareness is still low. Coaches and apps will help them. It will drive the launch of many new initiatives all over the world. Businesses: virtual exercise apps, physical gym subscriptions, financial services, insurers, business & life coaching, health tech apps, diets, hygiene apps, private hygiene products.

Small, high-quality events: the new sexy

As I wrote last week, we are humans, so the need to physically connect will and should never disappear. When events start to come back in 2021, we will see more hybrid (on-/offline) versions and the physical ones will appear more often small-scale, fewer days, high-quality and more efficient. The small, 1 day, high-quality event will be the new sexy.

Digital digital digital

Apart from education, think of any part of your business that you can move to and expand online. You’re probably forced to do so for parts of your business, but there might be other sides where digitization creates new business opportunities. I also think of specific B2B businesses, where sense of urgency of going digital was less present, but where it becomes a necessity now. They now discover the efficiency and other advantages of digital. Businesses: shipping, transport, wholesale retail & business services, and so on.

The heroes of the ‘20’s: NGOs

Inequality, poverty, hygiene, health and diversity will be higher up the agendas of governments and companies. This is the time where NGOs promoting this can make huge progress. Reach out to governments, corporates and other (private) stakeholders. Boost partnerships and your ecosystems. Do it now and of course: use the appropriate tone of voice. The world needs you now more than ever. Businesses/organizations: NGOs, purpose-driven tech, corporates, governments.

Get used to it: more tech, less privacy

We are going to accept lower privacy standards. Whether we want it or not. Especially when restrictions are lifted, people have to be tracked and traced. The discussion will be tough in some democracies (such as the Netherlands) and countries might implement somewhat lighter versions, but more and more people worldwide will accept less data privacy. In many countries in Asia, this is business as usual. In the West, if necessary, it will sooner or later be forced by the government and regulation. For the cause of (our parents’) health. A huge opportunity for startups, (alternative) data and big tech companies in the area of privacy, health and regulation. Businesses: tech, data, privacy, health-tech, regtech.

Work becomes hybrid

Transformation happens when the heat is on. Where working from home via digital tools was often a burden, companies now rapidly have to adopt and discover the many advantages in efficiency and productivity. The big rise in hybrid work will of course boost any kind of distant-working tools and apps. As a consequence, companies might need less office space in the future. Maybe companies start renting out office space or use it to launch a complementary business. Or it will be a major cost-saver. Businesses: HR tech, collaboration tools.

Authentic thought leaders win

On a more general note, the rise of the ‘Awakening Consumer’ will happen even quicker due to covid-19. As an authentic and reliable leader you will win today’s consumers’ hearts even faster than before. Many (business) leaders have lost a lot of reliability in the past few weeks. Remain trustworthy and true to yourself and your message will be embraced by many. It will be a huge loyalty driver going forward. If not, you will lose customers faster than before.

Looking forward to hearing your comments and ideas as always!

Stay sane!


More at

Founder East | Business Strategist | Leadership Coach | Author ‘The Era of the Who’ — Leadership in a revolutionary era | Speaker | Columnist Business Insider.