Top 5 Business Trends From COVID-Life That Are Here to Stay
Whether we like it or not, the business world has changed because of COVID-19.
Even as the virus begins to fade in certain regions of the globe, its effects remain. What will the long-term impacts of our "new normal" in the workplace be?
None of us know for sure, but we’re seeing a few trends with staying power.
5 Key Business Trends That Are Likely Here to Stay
1. A Flexible Workforce
Before COVID-19, some companies resisted even the thought of remote work. But when the shelter-at-home orders came down, in-office work was no longer an option for many businesses.
This forced the digital transformation in many companies – which some now say is for the better. Business leaders are reevaluating processes to see how they can offer flexibility to their workforce.
The numbers are quite staggering. A May 2020 Gallup poll found that 53% of respondents reported working from home — up from 31% before COVID-19.
Image Source: Digital Transformation Quiz, Susanne Wolk, 2020 (Twitter)
Some organizations are making plans for a full-scale return to the office. However, now that so many companies have crossed the "remote work bridge," it’s likely that many will keep it as a permanent fixture of the way they operate.
Expect to see more companies embracing a remote workforce by choice, instead of by force of circumstance.
2. Changes in Office Space
Even though some workers may transition to permanent remote positions, there will still be a need for physical office space, both for practical and psychological reasons. Realistically, some jobs can't be done remotely, and some people work better in an office environment.
Nevertheless, expect to see companies look for ways to reduce their existing office space, and the costs associated with it. With fewer people in the office, there will be less need to focus on expansive rooms and high square footage. Many businesses will likely look in to relocating from high density, high rent areas to more economical spaces.
3. A Healthier Workplace
Expect to see changes in workspace design that will contribute to better hygiene and enhanced employee safety as we return to the office. Companies will continue to follow social distancing guidelines for the foreseeable future and will adjust schedules and working patterns to minimize risk.
We'll also see a change in attitudes towards "coming in sick."
In the past, studies have shown that approximately 90% of professionals have come into work with cold or flu-like symptoms at some time in their life.
This used to be considered a badge of honor. Now, it's just plain reckless and inconsiderate.
Today, employers would much rather have sick employees work from home (or not at all) than come into the office and risk infecting their co-workers.
4. Changes in Communication
COVID-19 has changed the way professionals communicate with one another, and we’ll see these trends carry over into the post-COVID world.
Some companies may decide to completely phase out landlines, since platforms like Microsoft Teams can double as a phone system.
What we know for sure is that virtual communication is here to stay. It's part of many people's daily routines now.
Video conferencing platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams make it easy to meet from anywhere. You can provide mass updates to your company’s workforce, or to hold a team meeting with the click of a button.
We're seeing that people are much more comfortable hopping on a Microsoft Teams call for meetings these days. Employees can collaborate anytime, from anywhere.
The way sales reps interact with clients may change as well. Expect to see virtual meetings become a more common choice for client and prospect meetings. It may not become the primary option, since in-person meetings are typically preferred for large buying decisions, but they can still be useful if you need to have conversations sooner or more frequently.
Nothing beats an in-person interactions, but video conferencing gets us pretty darn close.
5. Continued Focus on Internet Usage
Shockingly, the Internet has survived the increased usage over the last few months.
When you think about all the businesses and schools newly relying on platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams, you'd imagine that it would be too much for them to handle. But the Internet has remained one of the most stable and critical business resources throughout this entire crisis (despite a spike in usage of up to 70%)
We've seen some latency for people who live in apartment complexes or areas that don't have many Internet options, but it's been stable overall.
This situation has caused business leaders to be more confident in moving their key operations to the cloud, and the power of connecting with people through online channels.
Technology Resilience and Business Continuity
These 5 business trends are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the changes that we'll see in the next few years.
Running a business under normal circumstances is difficult enough, without trying to keep operations going during a pandemic. Your IT systems and a solid IT support team don’t have to be an added challenge. Accent Computer Solutions helps businesses headquartered in Southern California thrive in difficult times through fast, friendly, frustration-free IT consulting and support.
About Marty Kaufman
Marty Kaufman is Founder and President of Accent Computer Solutions, Inc., a Southern California-based innovator in IT thinking. He got his start in the world of Big Data as Manager of Information Systems for General Dynamics. He earned his B.S. degree in Computer Information Systems from California Polytechnic University, Pomona in 1985 and started Accent Computer Solutions as a consulting firm in 1987. He has spent his entire career researching and implementing Information Technology strategies and processes to help his clients reduce the cost and risk of IT.
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