As COVID-19 swept the globe, our business world was neatly divided into 2 sections – before and after. In the before, businesses had been using sound principles that had governed business practices for decades and those who were moving forward were considered progressive and on the cutting edge. The internet was a tool available for supplementing brick-and-mortar stores and connecting businesses to customers regardless of physical proximity.
The existing models of free trade, movement of goods, and physical foot traffic were dramatically altered in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and since the dust has yet to settle, these models are still being largely determined by how effectively companies can manage online. However, the impact is going to largely outstrip the actual presence of the virus, and it’s important that businesses prepare to adjust for long term changes.
What COVID-19 Means For Businesses In The Short-Term
The current implications of the pandemic are primarily financial and workforce focused. With the dramatic drop in business and the subsequent drop in the economy, majority of the businesses have been forced to close their physical doors, pause projects, and take massive financial losses. This has led to major layoffs and cutbacks.
To keep businesses running, companies have been forced to accommodate their employees’ need to telecommute, providing them with equipment and trusting them to maintain their professionalism and productivity when not in the office.
These are the major issues that businesses worldwide are confronting as the pandemic unfolds, they have taken up so much energy that most businesses are holding off any taking major steps to prepare for the post-COVID-19 business world. But they shouldn’t.
What COVID-19 Means For Businesses In The Long-Term
Existing business models have been altered dramatically by the pandemic and corresponding quarantine period. Business models are based on what businesses know about their customers’ habits, yet all our habits have been so dramatically altered by the time spent in quarantine that it will take time to understand how these habits will affect current business models.
Partially, this will depend on how long social distancing and lockdowns last. However, regardless of whether quarantine lifts after 1 month or several, habits have been altered. Studies have shown that people will form new habits and conform to changes if their routine is unchanged for around 2 months. Since the pandemic has been going on for approximately that long (or longer), it is likely that we will see new behavioural trends that will change the way customers interact with businesses. But, that’s just the start. These behavioural changes will apply to your employees, your corporate partners, subcontractors, and any other human that makes things happen in your company. There isn’t an aspect of life that COVID-19 hasn’t affected, and its influence is just as profound in the business world. The world has changed, and therefore business has changed.
The COVID-19 pandemic has completely altered our view of the world. As many publications and experts have stated, we have entered a new normal and going forward, we will operate in the new normal as the economy gradually reopens. There’s no going backwards and resuming activities as though nothing has happened. Your clients and customers have been through something life-altering that certainly has affected their view of the world, and your business will be trying to engage with people who are fundamentally different than they were a few months ago.
Preparedness In The Face Of Uncertainty
The coronavirus situation has caused a lot of uncertainty in the world; most certainly the overriding state of human minds right now. How will this all turn out? How long will our freedom of movement be restricted? Will there be a second wave? A third wave? What will the effect be on the economy, how long will that last?
The truth is, many of us took everything for granted before the COVID-19 outbreak. But as the pandemic quell and gets under control, we find our new normal – government-mandated restrictions and rules, new behaviours from people individually and collectively. Things are still unfolding and changing; there may be aspects of the new normal that we did not ask for or have any control over, but we have to understand and accept the nature of reality, and to proceed on from here and make the best of what is in front of us. As we move forward together, it will be worth the while for businesses to take stock of the new needs of their customers and adjust accordingly to meet their expectations. While this is certainly a significant undertaking, it’s also an opportunity for your business to integrate and grow in the post-pandemic landscape.