01 Sep Long Term Business Impacts of Coronavirus
Can you even remember what your company was like before the coronavirus gripped our nation in March? It feels like a lifetime ago that it was business as usual in our country. There have been many obvious temporary impacts of course, like mask wearing, sanitizing stations, and socially distanced stores and restaurants. However, this public health crisis has also brought about some other shifts and impacts that could be longer lasting, even permanently changing the business landscape as we know it. How might the world of business look different on the other side of this? We’re breaking down some patterns that have emerged because of the pandemic, and some of the trends that could stick around.
Online ordering is king
Of course, online ordering of everything from food to clothes to furniture was popular well before the pandemic began. The world was already trending toward primarily online retail, and away from shopping malls and big box stores. However, there was a mixed bag of people who preferred the experience of doing their shopping in person, and those who preferred the convenience of ordering online. Now, many of those who used to prefer shopping in person, have taken up online ordering years before they otherwise would have. Even as stores and businesses have reopened, many have continued to shop online.
We should expect to see in-person retail sales bounce back somewhat when the pandemic calms down, but the trend toward more online shopping is here to stay. Expect a significantly higher number of consumers than before conducting the majority of their shopping through online channels. This change will be especially evident in categories that previously struggled in online sales, like groceries.
More work from home and flexible scheduling
Work from home is the catchphrase of 2020. Most everyone whose job lent itself to the ability to work remotely did so for at least a few months this year. Even now, as many companies begin returning to their offices and workplaces, remote work and flexible scheduling are taking center stage more than they ever have before. These few months really proved to everyone, employees and employers alike, that working from home can be productive and effective. A few major corporations, like Twitter and Shopify, have already announced plans to allow some of their employees the option to work from home permanently. Expect more companies to follow suit, or to at least ease up on their policies regarding days off and days spent working from home. The traditional office space no longer feels completely necessary for a company to function and employees to contribute.
Virtual events are taking over
Finally, anyone who invested in Zoom is the real winner of this year. Who ever would have thought so much of our lives could be conducted through a computer screen? Everything from concerts to work meetings to birthday parties to weddings have been taking place on video calls and livestreams. This holds true for business as well as for people’s personal lives. Companies have been finding ways to raise money, connect with consumers, and conduct business in new and creative ways.
As with many of the other trends that have emerged in response to the coronavirus, expect some of these events and meetings to return to the way they used to be as soon as they can. However, this has really opened up new creative avenues for businesses to run. Online events are usually exponentially cheaper than in-person ones, and with enough creativity can offer just as much to participants. Expect virtual events to continue to dominate long after the virus is under control.
There’s no denying the country looks very different right now than it did 6 months ago. In many ways, things will probably return to “normal” once it feels safe and healthy to do so. But there will also likely be some new normals brought on by this crazy time. New business practices have emerged that we believe are here to stay. The pandemic has taught us a lot about how companies were previously functioning, and actually allowed a chance for businesses to improve some of their practices and come out even stronger. Who knows what the business landscape will look like a few years from now – all we do know is that we’ll have the coronavirus to thank for at least some of it.