As our world re-opens post-pandemic, we’re glad to start putting the memory of 2020 behind us. Yet, considering what we experienced during the past nearly 15 months, we learned some valuable lessons. We watched trends take on new form and witnessed new trends come to life. What of those will you take into your future and incorporate into your business strategy?
We’ve identified three lessons/trends that we think will be a part of business strategy for surviving and thriving in the future:
It may seem silly to label “e-commerce” as a lesson learned, considering we’ve shopped online for at least 25 years. The lesson, though, is more e-commerce or the “e-commercing” (our word) of things in business sectors we hadn’t expected, in ways we had never imagined for reasons we hadn’t considered before.
E-commercing augmented in-person sales lost during lockdown and opened access to new customers. Because e-commerce helped customers shop remotely when it wasn’t safe to be out in public, it cracked open opportunities for even the smallest of businesses. Moving forward, every business should not only consider, but also plan to extend – or continue extending – its market beyond the brick-and-mortar with an e-version of itself.
Safety and Convenience
Convenience has long been at the top of a customer’s list of must haves. Thanks to the pandemic, safety is running a close second. Personal safety will be paramount as people re-enter and adapt to a post-COVID-19 world.
Measures that were initially taken because of safety concerns also had the benefit of convenience. During COVID-19, storefronts learned to rethink their systems and real estate. We watched as businesses added features to their websites or apps to allow customers to schedule private shopping sessions, purchase online and pickup curbside, and have purchases delivered. Many businesses altered their store hours and capacity to accommodate social distancing protocols. Some even shifted their teams to work remotely. These changes will likely continue not only to capitalize on the time and expense put into implementation, but also from customer response.
The intersection of safety and convenience isn’t limited to traditionally transactional businesses. Medical providers retooled their systems, too. In addition to doctors moved patient sign-in to the web so people could wait for their appointments in the comfort and safety of their cars, some hospital systems adopted a Tele-ER format for more urgent care needs. Tele-ER programs provide virtual emergency room (ER) health evaluations without physically visiting an ER, which reduces the number of patients waiting onsite and potential exposure to contagions. All that is needed is a smartphone, laptop or desktop computer.
The Where and How of Work
Being an employer changed significantly this past year.
As Jeroen Kraaijenbrink shared with Forbes.com, “employership,” while not an actual word, is a trending approach to being a good employer, good being defined as offering working conditions in which employees flourish and feel good. During COVID-19, many employers shifted to provide employees with a greater degree of autonomy and control over their work. They were able to pursue their ideal work-life balance, and provide an inspiring, safe and healthy workplace.
The greater digitization of work somewhat enabled this shift. Employers started rethinking what it meant to “be at work”. Employers started defining the term less by location and more by function and access. Employees created home offices equipped to accommodate cloud-based file sharing and software solutions. Employers supported them by providing technology like Zoom, Teams and Slack to facilitate collaboration in the absence of shared physical space.
Prior to the pandemic, working from home (or just remotely) had a foothold in the marketplace. As the pandemic lockdown wore on, we all got more comfortable with people working from wherever they felt most comfortable. By many reports, this led to an increase in productivity. A Canva study showed workers reporting a 50% gain in productivity working from home. In fact, the study also reports 76% of respondents say their relationships with co-workers are stronger as a result of the shift to work-from-home during 2020; 75% have a new-found confidence in their role and position within a team; and almost half (46%) say remote work has improved collaboration with colleagues. With data like that, some type of flexible working arrangement for many businesses could become an accepted norm. That’s a notable trend that may carry us into a happier, healthier and productive future.
It’s in our nature as humans to look for the silver lining in any difficult circumstance. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different. Although we are eagerly awaiting the unpleasant memories to fade, we’re going to leverage our resiliency, embrace the lessons we learned, celebrate the successful pivots we made and take all of this with us as we head into the back half of 2021.
Are you unsure of which lessons to take with you and what to leave behind? Give us a call. Our team provides great guidance for navigating toward a prosperous future.