We’ve long suspected the need to develop a virtual world, where the core of business longevity stems from a complete digital transformation. COVID-19 seems to be making our case for more zero touch and online interactions. While this transformation is not new, it is being accelerated due to the isolation, social distancing norms set in place globally. How does one operate in a world driven by physical distance? Simple. You revamp the paradigm.
Around the world, the transformation started taking place years ago when companies began replicating certain elements of their brick and mortar business model on online platforms. The automotive sector welcomed virtual showrooms, healthcare sectors started telecommuting consultations, the education industry began online classes and distance learning so students across the globe could receive their degrees without travelling to the University/school locale. But the catalyst, COVID-19, created almost a worldwide emergency requiring companies to adapt and adopt technologies overnight that could help them mirror their physical office practices in a virtual ecosystem.
Having seen the success rate and increased productivity rates over the past two months, we’re painting a picture of a post-COVID corporate world.
Post-COVID Work Life
As offices switched to all-online mediums of communication, as with an actual physical setup, cyber security is always a factor to be considered. With the increase in the number of employees working from home, information sharing is all virtual and altered quite dramatically, so the challenge fell on the in-house tech geniuses to create remote work capabilities that are safe, secure and mitigate misuse.
Working remotely permanently was first implemented by Twitter in March as a response to the virus onset. They explained that this decision was made in line with their ‘distributed workforce’ endeavors. Telecommuting and a hybrid of in-office + Telecommuting is where we’re headed post-pandemic. The need to conduct webinars, virtual meetings and a more digitally enabled workforce is crucial now more than ever because of the long-term benefits. Most organizations will not be returning to the old way of conducting business even as the country reopens operations.
Apart from the obvious health benefits to social distancing and working from home, the company faces reduced costs, reduced emissions while indirectly motivating their employees because of the new work-life balance that’s created. We are at the cusp of a post-COVID reality and in the position to reinvent the workplace.
Post-Pandemic Business Meetings
A major impact has been on corporate travel. Flying across the globe for business is not the same anymore and possibly not as safe anymore. We’re looking at a more limited future in terms of travel; regional travel may be safer as compared to international. This change, from the airline’s perspective, is beyond drastic. We’re looking at a complete 180-degree turn in the way in-flight entertainment and food is served, the seating arrangement, coach and business class pricing, especially considering the reduction in capacity travel.
The New Corporate Standard
While the world is seeing redundancies, furloughs and a significantly large unemployment rate, we are resilient. We’re seeing entrepreneurial spirits on the rise, SMEs taking the lead in technological advancements and a contact-free economy that, based on previous experience, will birth new disruptive brands that will sustain the post-pandemic world. Brands that are now helping us in this period, Netflix, FedEx, Google, Facebook, WhatsApp, and so on were formed post-economic recessions and are now part of our daily lives.
For consumers, brands are now being held to a new standard. Business priorities have to change completely, and resources need to be repurposed to cater to today’s challenges (reduced in-store footfall and impulse purchases) while communicating a responsible, CSR plan. Consumers have now become more conscious of the brands they interact with and this is fueled by their compassion for frontline workers currently. To maximize their brand impact, donating a portion of their sales to hospitals or partnering with like-minded brands is important for raising their social status.
This means a significant drop in luxury brand purchases is expected, unless, they are able to keep their sense of purpose on the surface to allow the customers to experience their compassionate, responsible side. Our consumers are becoming more conscious of the efforts in brand development and identifying CSR as a driving factor for brand loyalty. For SMEs and startups, shelving an idea until the market rebounds may create a missed opportunity and acting swiftly is fundamental.
We’re at the brink of a revolution that could create a unique algorithm for corporate functions moving forward but the thing to remember is, resilience is key.