Unfortunately, 2020 was a difficult year for many individuals and businesses all over the world. The challenges experienced on an individual level and in the economy more broadly have been vast, and even now, the coronavirus pandemic still rages on.
Even with a vaccine on the horizon, the reality is that a return to any sort of ‘normal’ that we recall from before the pandemic is unlikely. Instead, businesses need to start considering the lessons that have been learned during this difficult year and begin thinking about how to implement them in the coming year and beyond.
What have businesses learned from a year spent just trying to survive such an intense and severe economic crisis? How can they change and be more prepared for the future?
Learning from the Crisis
At this time last year, businesses could not have known the difficulty and absolute upheaval which nearly every industry would experience through the rest of 2020. But going forward into the new year and the new future, businesses can take the lessons learned in navigating this crisis and apply them to create new practices.
By doing so, businesses can ensure survival even through the most difficult of economic crises. If a business has survived this past year, it can probably survive anything, assuming it internalizes the lessons learned.
Both individuals and businesses have learned important lessons as a result of the fallout from the coronavirus crisis. Perhaps the most important is that flexibility and adaptability are absolutely essential in surviving an economic downturn of this nature. When the rising numbers of cases forced a complete economic shutdown, businesses were forced to suddenly reassess every aspect of operation and the way business was conducted.
Businesses that were unable or unwilling to make changes could not weather the storm. Those companies that were able to pivot quickly by introducing new products, new delivery methods, or by expanding the options for remote work are the ones that have survived the economic crisis.
Business owners must understand going forward that the flexibility demanded by this pandemic is not likely to disappear anytime soon. With vaccine rollouts starting slowly and the general public still waiting for their turn to get a vaccine, normal is not something we can look forward to for at least another year.
It is likely that the economy will remain in flux for the foreseeable future. Businesses must be prepared to pivot quickly and efficiently in order to stay relevant going forward.
With the entire world in a state of lockdown, physical shopping experiences (and working experiences, for that matter) were simply nonexistent for more than half a year in some places. Some are still locked down, even now, nearly a year into the pandemic.
Those businesses that relied on selling goods and services to people were forced to immediately shift to e-commerce options. In some cases, they were forced to roll out websites and online ordering experiences that had not yet been tested. Businesses that had previously been shifting toward e-commerce were much more prepared to take on the sudden reliance on an online experience than those that still relied on physical and in-person shopping.
But even a return to a more normal shopping experience is not likely to dampen the appeal of e-commerce entirely. Businesses that wish to remain relevant on into the future need to embrace the reality of an online world.
As the pandemic shut down offices around the world, businesses were forced into a quick and unplanned trial of their remote work capabilities. For a long time, remote workers have been viewed with a hint of cautious optimism by some employers and outright suspicion by others.
Managers and workers have endlessly debated the feasibility of remote work. Can we really collaborate effectively and complete projects without being in the same room? If the pandemic has taught us anything, it is that yes, remote work works. And in fact, as businesses begin to open up again, workers want to stay at home, at least for a portion of the work week.
A recent survey from The Grossman Group in Chicago reported that almost half of employees currently working from home would like to continue to do so. Remote work is not ideal for all employees. However, when the pandemic forced the remote work experiment into an unexpected trial, workers seem to have overwhelmingly found that the experience actually did work for them.
Importantly, 80 percent of employees surveyed noted that they were confident their supervisors were communicating the information they needed to perform their jobs effectively. Additionally, 88 percent reported either an increase in satisfaction with their employer or that it had stayed the same. Approximately 90 percent indicated their trust in their employer had remained stable or increased.
Businesses need to keep improving their remote work options, stay flexible during crises, and embrace the digital space moving forward.