The Long Haul: Getting Back to Work in a Changed Economy


Businesses must prepare now for the long haul of COVID-19 suppression if they are to survive in a changed economy.

Terry Stone, Helen Leis, Bryce Bach, Barrie Wilkinson, and Sam Glick

5 min read

Editor’s Note: The following information is part of an ongoing series offering our strategic advice and expertise on what healthcare industry stakeholders should do in response to the rapidly evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This is an excerpt from "The Long Haul: Getting Back to Work in a Changed Economy," originally published on

The post-COVID-19 economy will bear little resemblance to what the world looked like on March 1. According to a new Oliver Wyman analysis, we will have to live under new constraints for the next 12 to 18 months. To open up our economies again, we must be prepared for the long haul of suppression.

Our Health & Life Sciences team recently analyzed how aggressive containment of the novel coronavirus may bend the curve. We also explore three key phases of COVID-19 life and how to transition together from Phase 1 (where we are now) to future stages of continued prevention, treatment, and evolving innovations. We also present a few candid truths leaders must act on now regarding the culture, emotional stability, and operational health of their organizations throughout the execution of these pandemic phases.

Phase 1, which has already lasted several months here in the US, is one where emergency measures are implemented and short-term crisis management is a top priority. Phase 2, which may last for at least 12 months, is where social distancing acts as the only "brake," more testing provides better sensing, and cycles of relaxation measures come into play. Phase 3, "the new normal," is where new breakthroughs like vaccines shape a post-pandemic landscape, one where the virus is ideally immediately contained upon the first sign of an outbreak.

Regarding some top-of-mind truths for business leaders, we recommend various key considerations. These include diversifying your supply chain and distribution channels, determining who to allow back onsite and when, ensuring your colleagues are able to access and are using virtual mental health resources as needed, and making sure work-from-home support mechanisms can carry you through into the next year to year-and-a-half.

For more information explore our COVID-19 Pandemic Navigator, a model developed by our quants and healthcare experts to reveal the impact of containment and suppression efforts across nearly 40 countries.

  • Terry Stone,
  • Helen Leis,
  • Bryce Bach,
  • Barrie Wilkinson, and
  • Sam Glick