Businesses from every industry have experienced the worst period in their history. Many of the world’s biggest airlines are at serious risk of going under. A lack of online presence meant that clothing retailer Primark went from making £650m every month to zero sales since the last of its stores closed on 22 March.
Customer demand has disappeared, supply chains have faced interruptions while unemployment and economic recession has ushered in a new period of uncertainty. But for the most part, lessons have been learned. Businesses are now preparing to adapt and thrive once again.The lifting of restrictions and the reopening of office cubicles will feel like a bittersweet moment for some. Many will be asking, how relevant is my business to customers in a post-pandemic world? Few will be able to reopen unchanged in a world where resilience will mean something different to every person and organization.
Adapting to exponential change
The travel, hospitality, and events industry have been shut down. Zoom is now valued at more than American Airlines, Expedia and Hilton combined. In a post-pandemic world, businesses will need to embrace a more agile, resilient, and human ways of doing business while also exploring new ways of working.
The value propositions in demand are now around communication and collaboration tools. For any company to adapt and thrive, it’s crucial to identify their position in this new environment and make smart data-driven and strategic decisions. Everyone needs to be proactive and use this lockdown time wisely to ensure they hit the ground running when restrictions are slowly lifted.
The flexibility of working from home used to be a nice to have for businesses. In many organizations, it was a luxury only available to a limited number of individuals. The coronavirus pandemic let the genie out of the bottle, and it has changed how entire organizations operate and communicate forever.
Improving collaboration between remote workers and the office
According to Gartner, 41% of employees are likely to continue working remotely for at least some of the time post-pandemic. One of the biggest problems that need to be overcome is that collaboration can be challenging with limited face-to-face communication. As a result, many will turn to better technology solutions that help workers connect more effectively with remote workers.
As we increasingly collaborate using tools such as Office 365, Slack Asana and Trello, the growing list of tools can often result in too much chaos. All-in-one virtual workspaces such as Notion are attempting to solve these problems by enabling remote workers to write, plan, collaborate, and organize in one tool rather than skipping through multiple tabs trying to find a link.
It’s also time to admit that conference tables and meeting rooms now need more than a handful of electrical plugs for computers and projectors. Cameras and built-in microphones are now needed more than ever to tear down the barriers between those in the office and those working from home.
The Meeting Owl smart video conferencing camera is one solution looking to unite teams. The device captures 360° video and audio for a near face-to-face experience. Rather than just filming the entire room, the camera also automatically shifts to focus on whoever is speaking. It’s designed to allow a remote worker to feel like they are sitting in the room with their team.
Mobile and contactless payments
There will also be a period where many will be reluctant to be in close proximity to each other. Many will also adopt mobile payment technologies to avoid using physical cash after developing an aversion to what they see as dirty germ-ridden banknotes.
The realization that cash will become the second choice is a big deal for many brands and businesses. NYC has acted quickly to this trend by expanding its contactless pay options for parking kiosks. Payment systems have proved to be resilient and reliable. These changes mean that many merchants, retailers, and users are becoming more anxious about handling cash than contactless mobile payments.
Although mobile payment services are growing exponentially in South East Asia, it is still in its infancy. Sweden’s slide into cashlessness has raised a few questions, and some believe it will run the risk of creating second-class citizens and introducing terrifying levels of surveillance. But make no mistake, attitudes towards physical cash has already changed.
Businesses that embrace the ability to enhance the user experience with faster contactless transactions for purchases of any size will win over digital natives. Cash is not going anywhere, its role has just evolved into complementing digital payment methods, rather than restricting them.
Cultivating balance and a new workplace experience
Over the last few months, we have all learned how easy it can be to learn, work, and shop remotely. When everyone returns to the office, it might feel like stepping back in time. With a myriad of tools from internal messaging apps to collaboration spaces at our disposal, there is no going back to the old way of working.
The fact that 52% of companies in the Fortune 500 have either gone bankrupt, been acquired or ceased to exist since 2000, should be a warning sign. History has taught us that it’s the companies that take advantage of emerging trends and invest in technology as a differentiator that will weather the storm. Businesses that devise new operation models and make data-driven decisions will be the ones that re-energize their business growth.
However, the key to unlocking opportunities in a post-pandemic world is not about just upgrading your technology. It’s also time to think differently and change your corporate culture too. Businesses need to retire the dated debates around remote working vs. in the office. The results of a Gallup poll revealed that if you are working remotely or in the office all of the time, only 30% will be engaged.
There is no one size fits all solution to anything. If we have learned anything during the lockdown, it’s that we need to have more balance rather than having all our eggs in one basket. But achieving that balance is a topic for another day.