As we enter this new phase in the world of business, we don’t really know what will happen next – but we know things will change. The COVID pandemic wasn’t on anyones radar a few months ago. It seemingly came out of nowhere. Now it’s become clear: the coronavirus will undoubtedly have a major impact on the way we work. It will impact businesses around the country (and the world) both in a negative and positive way. At this point all we, and anyone else can do is speculate how this will change the business world.
The first thing that the coronavirus has shown us, is that working from home is indeed viable for most businesses. The labor market has in recent years shifted to embrace work from home, and increasingly employees have made it clear that they would prefer to work remote from home. While work-life balance was always important for both employers and employees, we are now seeing working from home being embraced on a massive scale by employers themselves, and not just employees.
Although it’s still unclear, as of right now it seems that employees have very quickly adapted to working from home and indeed productivity has not decreased. As we transition into this post coronavirus world, new technologies and infrastructure will emerge to help facilitate working from home.
Another thing that will seemingly change due to coronavirus: businesses planning ahead in order to continue business operations during a catastrophe or unforeseen event. Previously, business continuity plans were only things that large and sophisticated corporations had in place. But if the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that planning for any unforeseen event or circumstance is now necessary for all businesses. Companies that already had plans in place were able to remain nimble and react quicker. Companies that did not have continuity plans found himself scrambling and struggling to keep up to the new changing dynamic of their business. Without a doubt, nearly every business will now have contingency plans to reference, should another event such as a pandemic, natural disaster or terrorism occur again in the future. If the coronavirus has taught stakeholders anything, it’s that things can drastically and dramatically change very quickly. Business executives need to become more forward thinking in planning for the worse case scenarios. A business continuity plan should outline what the protocols are for each possible disaster scenario, what employees should do, and how a company can remain open, active, and in business. A well-defined contingency plan will help businesses of all sizes plan ahead for the unforeseen.
Similar to the new reality of employees working from home, the coronavirus has shown us that telework and video conferencing can easily replace face-to-face meetings. As we transition into this new business environment we can now see how complex business deals and meetings that traditionally would have been done in person can be done remote using video conferencing technologies. While the traditional face-to-face meeting will never go away, without a doubt, we will see people travel less for meetings, we will see video conferencing around business deals become more common place. What this means is businesses can continue to generate revenue without incurring travel expenses such as the cost of an airplane ticket or a hotel in order to fly decision makers to different cities. If cpomplex business deals can be done over a video conference call, then clearly face-to-face meetings are not going to be as necessary as they once were, or as commonplace.
As we previously mentioned, video conferencing and remote work software is currently available on the market and in use. Understanding that these technologies exist to help businesses work remote and embracing them is one thing. But making sure that your business has the underlying infrastructure in place in order to properly leverage remote work and videoconferencing will now be of the upmost importance for businesses. From servers, to laptops and PCs that are able to handle video conferencing and other remote work features, it’s more important than ever that businesses invest in the necessary hardware and infrastructure. For many companies who may have already been a step or two behind in terms of technology before the coronavirus pandemic, they are going to be playing catch-up. Heavy investments will need to be made in order to guarentee that should another event occur where we are all suddenly working from home again- their business technology stack can handle the challenge.
Another way that we hypothesize that businesses will change after the coronavirus pandemic ends is the increased reliance on deliveries. For many companies who are service companies, or physical stores, this will be an important part of their business to focus on, optimize, and develop. If your business is a store for instance, you may find that in the coming months and years your foot traffic has decreased significantly, as more customers stay at home and expect products and services to come to them.
For many companies this will be a new and uncharted focal point of their business. Companies who had never even considered themselves to be delivery companies will now be faced with the prospect of having to essentially build a logistics business inside of their existing business structure. This is going to mean a lot of technical changes, a lot of new protocols and an increased reliance on proprietary technology. Businesses will not be able to change overnight, but it will mean a very large investment is going to be necessary by businesses in order to adapt to any environment where people are going to expect deliveries. For traditional stores to survive in this environment, they will have to adapt quick, and they will have to understand that not embracing this new paradigm could lead to them losing massive amounts of business and revenue to competitors who are embracing delivery. Stakeholders and businesses need to be forward thinking and not only expect these changes will need to occur, but begin getting their business prepared to quickly implement and leverage technologies to help facilitate delivery.
There’s no doubt that the entire world will change – particularly the business world – as the result of the coronavirus pandemic. Although there is much that we don’t know currently, and this crisis continues to unfold, what is certain is that those that are quickly able to adapt will find themselves in a position that will be advantageous. To assume that everything will return to 100% normal after the pandemic ends is most likely an incorrect assumption. Being forward thinking, willing to innovate, willing to change fundamental things around your business is going to be a requirement in this new world.