The Covid-19 pandemic thrust the world into uncertainty, but as we begin to acclimatise to the “new normal” we are starting to understand how the way we work has changed for the long term.
The immediate changes, like the shift to remote work, were made in a reactive state, but now the dust has settled a little, we find ourselves with the opportunity to be reflective, to look at what worked, look at what did not and to create plans to move forward.
Today, I look at some fundamental changes for businesses that came about as a result of Covid-19, but that I believe will have a much longer-term impact…
Work from Anywhere at Anytime
Covid-19 broke the longstanding myth that many jobs cannot be done remotely by forcing businesses to close their office doors. As a result, teams that previously thought they could not work well remotely have discovered that they absolutely can.
As a result, we will see many businesses implement more flexible work-from-anywhere policies long after lockdown orders have lifted. “Working from anywhere” affords both employees and employers more flexibility, which can result in higher employee retention rates, as well as reduced operating costs.
Businesses that transition more permanently to remote work can save on office space and real estate costs without sacrificing efficiency or the experience of the end user.
A Digital Experience
The pandemic saw an unprecedented rise in the use of social media and other online services, such as digital storefronts. As a result, many companies accelerated, or more deeply embraced, opportunities to engage with their customers digitally. As organisations and their customers have gotten more comfortable with this level of digital engagement, I expect that trend to persist.
Companies and customers have been doing much of their shopping online, as well as using order online/curbside pickup models to continue operating. These models are efficient and convenient for customers, so I think businesses and their clientele will continue to embrace the idea, even when it is no longer a necessity.
Online shopping itself isn’t novel to the Covid-19 pandemic of course, but other advancements in technology emerged as a result of this increased engagement, such as the use of chatbots and AI to ramp up customer service support while reducing human touch points.
As we increase our reliance on these digital mechanisms going forward, I expect that we are likely to see more innovative tools and programs developed to streamline and improve the online experience.
Social Media marketing too was gaining in popularity long before the lockdown, but it became more relevant than ever because of the restrictions.
Facebook and LinkedIn saw their daily traffic nearly double over the second quarter of 2020 in the UK, an increase in popularity that has been maintained since. Savvy businesses have been capitalising on this by ramping up their social marketing efforts, especially on Facebook & LinkedIn, and are unlikely to revert any time soon.
It’s important to realise that social marketing is a long game, it takes time and consistency to build an audience, but it is relatively inexpensive when compared to traditional marketing methods and the rewards for perseverance get better all the while.
With many employees using their own devices, and with businesses suddenly lacking consistent access to their physical infrastructure, so-called “as a service” platforms became critical to business continuity for many organisations.
Subscription-based services allow businesses to rapidly scale up or down to address their needs, no matter where their employees or IT teams are sitting, making them ideal for the newly scattered workforce.
In addition, “XaaS” solutions are generally more cost-efficient and require little to no capital investment to implement, helping organisations preserve cash flow and liquidity. This, in turn, helps those companies respond more effectively to a volatile business environment.
Even though many offices will be open for business once again, I anticipate that this shift to subscription-based service models will remain as many organisations continue to not only embrace but also expand their use of these solutions going forward.
Though the extent to which these changes will become permanent will vary across different organisations, those who continue to innovate will emerge stronger.
So far, 2020 has tested the creativity and resiliency of businesses everywhere, but the changes that we made out of necessity have the potential to yield rewards far into the future.
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About the author…
Julian has over 20 years of experience as a technical salesperson for IT Managed Service Providers (MSPs) and likes nothing more than a cup of coffee and a chat about how to cure your IT headaches.
Supreme Systems is an information technology company established since 2008.
Leading IT Services provider and Cloud solutions for businesses in West Midlands.