There’s little doubt that COVID-19 has rapidly disrupted the way that small, medium and even large businesses conduct their affairs. But, like all crises and disruptions, there is never a better opportunity for moving quickly and making a profit. It is a fact that more millionaires are made in recessions than in times of ease.
And the world was shifting to work from home (‘WFM’) before COVID hit. A survey from Global Workplace Analytics found 56% of the US tech workforce (75 million employees) have a job description perfectly compatible with remote work.
With that said, the following are 10 new business trends that can be capitalized upon. Just because things are being done differently and there is a period of disruption, does not mean that it is a complete disruptive process. Significantly, faster and more adaptive companies have been able to thrive amidst COVID, while slower organizations are suffering heavily. The following are just some of the benefits to be availed of.
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Post-COVID 19: Leverage 10 New Business Trends
#1 – Reduced Rent
Working from home has a myriad of benefits, for both business owners and employees. Some of these will be outlined in more detail below. But, reduced rental costs are major. One of the biggest problems for all kinds of businesses is rent in urban locations. It is especially relevant for corporate outfits renting office space, which has a massive price tag. Imagine being able to completely cut all your rental costs.
Most business owners simply don’t see this. Yes, there is the issue of existing leases, but allowances have been made in the US for this, and financial help is also available. Rent is a major cost – use the funds saved from rent to foster an intimate relationship with employees who no longer meet face to face. Of course, this does apply so much with a services company such as a restaurant that needs a physical presence. But it will work for digital and certain other models.
#2 – Reduction Of Associated Costs
While rent is one of the major benefits, there are a plethora of associated costs that are also vastly reduced. If you are no longer using office space, then there is no need to pay for insurance on the premises, and no chance of having to shell out for an injury. You also have zero utilities to pay.
The cost of hiring and onboarding staff has further been drastically reduced. This is due to the fact that no longer are physical interviews possible, so more of the process will be online and automated. HR and recruitment is a very expensive process. But without a physical presence, there is less need for an HR team to settle disputes and organize activities (though HR is still certainly needed in some capacity in medium to large business models)
#3 – Mental Health As A Priority
COVID-19 has brought mental awareness to the forefront of employers and employees. This is an interesting point as it kind of works both ways. Many workers seem to experience feelings of isolation when working from home.
Their routine has been upset, and it is incredibly difficult to adapt. There are many more temptations, and it is so easy to simply leave the desk with nobody knowing, or have one too many snacks from the fridge! Many studies and prominent psychologists have alluded to mental health risks.
The fact is that people are stressed about getting the virus. According to Reuters, many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days. Anxiety, insomnia, and depression are common.
Mental health is a vital aspect of worker productivity. And much of the existing mental health issues simply went unaddressed in the pre-covid era. However, it’s also worth mentioning that a significant proportion of workers are extremely positive about working from home and are adapting quite well, with significant mental benefits. They don’t have to commute from work, and they have more freedom around the home to do as they wish.
#4 – Faster Implementations
Due to COVID-19, many organizations rolled out initiatives very quickly due to the need for speed. Because of the crisis, business executives are overseeing a wide shift in how organizations work, spanning tactical adjustments in areas such as meeting structure and cadence, and day-to-day management, as well as enterprise-wide changes in leadership and talent management, use of technology, and innovation. In most industries, 50% of more of the leaders surveyed are considering or planning large-scale changes in various sectors. Leaders are making many of these changes swiftly by necessity.
As one surveyed healthcare leader explained – “We were able to deploy an enterprise-wide virtual care solution in a matter of weeks, because that is all we had. This rollout had been planned for over a year, prior to this.”
Many organizations realize the value of speed during these times of flux and uncertainty. Surveyed leaders most often cite the need to react more quickly to market changes as the reason why organizations have made changes during the pandemic. This need is reported significantly more often than factors such as the need to reduce costs, increase productivity, or engage more effectively with customers. If you want to take advantage of COVID, then you need to act quickly and with precision. This is an area where a business owner can make great gains.
#5 – Leveraging Technology
For decades people have been hyping up technology. But it works and has transformed the world. With the onslaught of COVID, technology is needed more than ever. People are communicating via messaging and video applications and need virtualized areas to collaborate. Security is going to get more sophisticated, with retina and fingerprint scanners to verify entry to workspaces.
Technology can improve on speed and decision making, 2 pivotal components of any business enterprise. Many leaders view the pace of decision making as a priority for improvement, likely because many organizations find it harder to choose a path forward than to follow that path.
Communication and collaboration are 2 key areas that business leaders highlight when talking about technology. The speed at which accurate data is transferred is key. And to do this, there also has to be a clear chain of command where everybody knows their position. Superior technology can help from onboarding to payroll to learning to project execution.
#6 – Less Red Tape And Bureaucracy
With systems and management get established in a business, it’s hard to think of doing things differently. But many of these systems (and even certain staff) are surplus to requirements and make things even more difficult. In many instances, it is not the execution that is the problem. It is actually getting the sign-offs for disparate managers, all of whom have their own opinions about things. The end result is unnecessary delays.
Many business owners are finding that they operate just as efficiently, if not more so when the workers are given free rein to complete tasks on their own with only a light veneer of guidance. This runs counter to the management ethos that unless the workers are carefully managed, they will not get the work completed. A primary advantage of COVID is that it highlights what is truly necessary for a business and what was there simply nobody believed it was unnecessary before.
#7 – Sustainable Development
COVID-19 has woken the population up to the fact that sustainable development is necessary for the global economy to thrive. Sustainable development can take many forms, including:
- Financial sustainability
- Environmental sustainability
- Social sustainability
How can a business owner take advantage of ‘sustainability’? There is a huge market for organic or fair products, perceived as those that have long-term value and a transparent ethos. Clients and investors do not put up with shady businesses any longer. They consider the social and wider consequences of where they put their money. This trend has been reflected in the socially responsible investing phenomenon and the emphasis on green products in recent months. The trend is only going to continue year on year.
#8 – Education and Upskilling
Never before has there been such a radical shift in the global economy at such a rapid pace. As a result, large segments of the workforce need to upskill and reeducate themselves. May college students find themselves in a terrible environment for their courses, and because change is coming so rapidly, it is just not possible to accurately predict what skills are most relevant.
But there is a definite upside to this. Some skills are definitely in-demand, such as mobile app development, AI, automation tools, supply chain management, consultancy businesses, and far more. It is the prime opportunity to pivot an existing business to make it more profitable.
Pivoting refers to the art of changing your core business model to adapt to current circumstances. A Startup Genome study demonstrated that businesses that pivoted once or twice enjoyed far more success than those who stuck to their guns for the long-term. You and your employees can benefit from either upskilling or ‘pivoting’ to a new model entirely.
#9 – New Productivity Mechanisms
The fact is that COVID-19 has actually accelerated both employee productivity and employee satisfaction levels. The majority of independent studies are reporting this, and it goes against many employer fears of a lazy and complacent workforce. The reasons for this are unknown, but possibly in line with the fact that workers do better when they have the time and space to get the job done.
They are also more free to do things that make them more productive and motivated, whether that is a walk in the park, a 9 AM yoga session to start the day, or simply a coffee in a local cafe. Business owners can trust their employees to work without breathing down their necks. And the need for managers might actually be reduced in a collaborative environment where workers are independent with only light-touch management.
It’s also a major benefit that employees do not have to commute an hour to and from work. This is precious mental bandwidth that can increase their productivity levels.
#10 – Direct Entrepreneurial Expansion
You can take advantage of COVID-19 in a variety of different ways. Consider the various business opportunities – hand sanitizers, masks, door deliveries, mental health, remove services, shared office spaces, the list goes on and on.
Fast-acting entrepreneurs are having a field day with all of the opportunities. Particularly, small business owners who opted for restaurant delivery fared quite well, though this option was not taken up by every outlet.
There are still many opportunities for expansion in the post covid era. Supply chains are operating differently, consumer preferences are changing, and there are multiple opportunities in niche industries including VR, AI, renewable energy, supply chain management, and far more.
Tech companies are still incredibly lucrative, according to a Startup Genome Study, with impressive job multipliers and innovations that can have incredible benefits to the wider economy. In contrast to entrepreneurs, business executives have a slightly different focus. When surveyed, business executives primarily placed an emphasis on 3 key areas:
- Making good decisions more quickly.
- Improving communication and collaboration.
- Making greater use of technology.
The Importance of Speed
Speed is of the essence when it comes to pandemics like COVID, where the fastest acting businesses reap the rewards. As things start to solidify, it is design, patience, planning, and longer-term foresight.
There are also many ways you can directly take advantage of COVID with financial incentives. These financial incentives are outlined below. Note that some of them, such as the Paycheck Protection Program, are no longer available. Read more…