Businesses of various sizes are currently, in one form or another, dealing with the economic ramifications of COVID-19. Many businesses have folded, while others are surviving and some are prospering.
For businesses that survive the pandemic, it's not going to be “business as usual.” The return to normalcy will see many changes becoming a permanent part of life. How well businesses can adapt to these changes will significantly determine their relevance in the near future. Whilst no one knows how exactly businesses will be affected, some clear trends are beginning to form.
In this article, we’ll be highlighting some ways the business landscape will change in a post-COVID-19 climate to shed light on the foreseeable future and how you can best adapt.
So, let’s dive in!
A New Kind Of Normal
Whilst we may not know what to expect, we can be as proactive as possible by preparing for the future. What’s more, it’s helpful to recognise that a return to normal will look significantly different from everyday life prior to the pandemic.
When we are given the go-ahead to freely socialise and move around in public, the world as we know it has forever changed and thus, the way in which we do so will be unfamiliar. Furthermore, it will take some time for a vaccine to be released to the public before things can remotely resemble what they used to be.
What you can do as a business owner is to anticipate the changes that are to come. Take a look at how customers are interacting with your products and other similar products in your niche. Notice the trends that are beginning to take shape in your niche, and then align your offerings to meet them.
Consumer Behaviour Will Be Different
No one who has experienced this pandemic will forget about it in a hurry. We have all
been affected, either directly or indirectly. A significant percentage of the world has changed the way they work, the way they shop, and the way they do business.
What’s more, there’s a high probability that when things return to ‘normal’, most people will continue to use the systems and patterns of life that they developed during the pandemic. People who have been asked to work at home may feel inclined to continue working at home, and individuals who have bought supplies online will likely continue in doing so.
That’s why it’s fundamental to consider how your business can best respond to remain future-proof. If your brand hasn’t already reacted to emerging trends and changing customer behavior, then now is the perfect time to do so.
The Rise of the Virtual Meeting
If there’s one thing the pandemic has taught us, it’s the fact that we don’t have to be in the same room with someone to connect with them. Businesses that previously relied heavily on in-person meetings have switched to virtual meetings and effectively leveraged available technology to do so.
Moving forward, there’s bound to be less travel for business and less in-person meetings. It’s likely both individuals and businesses alike are going to choose teleconferencing tools like Zoom in the future. What’s more, businesses are likely to take advantage of the cost savings this presents and consequently, budgets previously allocated for business travel will be channeled into other areas.
Increased Dependence on Freelancers and Contractors
Companies around the globe have been forced to let go of a significant portion of their workforce in order to stay afloat. Resultantly, businesses will be looking to avoid a repeat of such in the future. Instead of having to rent office space and hire full-time employees, freelancers and contractors as well as virtual offices present a better alternative.
Furthermore, the option to work remotely will become a key factor for workers when choosing what company to work for. As a result, businesses will need to tweak their pipelines and ensure remote working is a core capability as opposed to an optional addition. This will help businesses reduce their fixed costs that would otherwise be spent on commercial real estate to operate.
Diversifying Supply Chains
Another lesson this pandemic has taught us is to diversify our supply chains rather than relying heavily on one supplier. The pandemic has made it clear how dependent businesses were on China for a large part of their operations.
In looking to the future, it’s a great idea to consider alternative supply chains and to select several suppliers from different parts of the world who operate 100% independently from one another. This approach will reduce your risk in the event that a supplier is unable to deliver.
When it comes to automation, this is most relevant in the manufacturing sector. Instead of putting workers at risk by having them work closely together within a factory, automating tasks by using robots will present a better alternative. What’s more, repetitive tasks that require little or no skill will be the first to be tackled by automated systems.
Even outside the manufacturing sector, many simple jobs that were previously handled by people can instead be performed by artificial intelligence. Businesses will seek to eliminate the risks associated with depending on people, automating processes wherever possible.
The Future is Digital
We now live in a world where a large part of our everyday has become digitalised. Whether it’s telecommunications or transport tickets, there’s an online option for almost everything. Gradually, we have made the permanent switch from analog systems to digital systems.
However, we are about to see a significant push towards digitizing those systems that haven’t yet made the leap to digital. For example, in Sweden, the use of physical cash is a rarity and this trend will become the norm for many more countries in the near future. What’s more, businesses will move to reduce the use of paper and those tasks that require physical touch.
In the world of business, things are always moving and ever-evolving. Stay in one spot and you’ll be left behind. It’s safe to say that COVID-19 has served as an accelerant, moving business more quickly in the direction it already planned to go.
Whilst the sited trends may have been expected, they have been realised sooner than we planned which is why it’s a time of adaptation and responsiveness. By letting your business focus on delivering value in this new world, you will be moving in the direction of a post-COVID-19 world. If you can do that, then your business will be on its way to staying relevant, valuable and much-needed.
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