Emerging data suggests the coronavirus crisis has caused a fundamental shift in how we do business. What are the trends you need to know about to stay ahead of the curve?
In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has changed the way we work forever. As we struggled to navigate working remotely with homeschooling and juggling slack calls and zoom meetings, it’s pretty clear Toto, that we aren’t in Kansas anymore.
What’s also certain is there is little likelihood work as we know it will go back to ‘normal’.
Even as restrictions lift, it’s already apparent, work and life are different.
Future Workplace’s recent survey, The Impact of the Coronavirus in the Workplace found many businesses were ill-prepared for the switch to remote work forced upon them by the impact of COVID-19. However, the report’s findings also indicate the pandemic has prompted a fundamental shift in how we live and do business. In fact, the survey’s respondents believe the pandemic will accelerate the Fourth Industrial Revolution, fuelled by smart technologies.
So, what does this mean for small business?
For starters, the coronavirus crisis has caused perhaps the biggest flexible work experiment we are likely to see in our lifetime. Government-mandated restrictions obliged businesses to shut up physical premises and shift to remote work. Those with digital solutions already in place have fared the best. Others have been required to embark on a steep learning curve. Steering their way through setting up unfamiliar programs and tech to communicate with their teams.
Remote teams are here to stay
Dr Sarah Bankins from Macquarie Business School says videoconferencing apps, productivity apps and messaging apps were all around long before the crisis hit, but it has taken the pandemic to make them ubiquitous. Bankins suggests this could bode well for the future of remote work.
“After reimagining and rejigging their business models and work practices in an incredibly short period of time in early 2020, business owners and C-suite executives may have more confidence to experiment with new technologies and new ways of working in the years to come,” she said.
Indeed, those who have done the hard yards now are likely to fair the best in the future. Here’s why.
Benefits of digital technology
Even before the coronavirus crisis, Xero’s Small Business Insights Report found businesses that adopted digital solutions had higher revenue and were growing at a faster rate than those that used traditional systems. As small business owners look for any help they can to survive during the crisis, embracing digital solutions will be essential.
The COVID-19 pandemic has really shone a light on the great digital divide. Those businesses who embraced digital transformation were able to pivot faster and adapt to changing circumstances. Indeed, it’s likely in some cases, digital tech has made the difference between closing doors and remaining open.
Jake Schwatz cofounder of General Assembly says the pandemic is pushing businesses to embrace digital transformation.
“Companies are going to be going digital much faster, they’re going to be automating much faster,” says Schwartz.
Evolving customer expectations
The pandemic has also prompted a shift in customer expectations. With so much of what we do now happening online rather than in the ‘real world’ attention must be paid to customer experience.
Tom Hyde, Head of Commercial Business Docusign says much of his day is spent advising businesses how to navigate this new normal. Speaking at a recent Business Continuity live digital event, Hyde commented:
“I think aside from COVID and the global issues we are facing, some of the things we see day- to-day is this idea of evolving customer expectations and the advent of mobile.
“How we see that progressing, would be replacing face to face communications and that old school way of doing business with something a lot more digital. We spend a lot of time speaking to customers about how to transition and future proof their business,” Hyde said.
“It’s incredible how many businesses come to us to solve one problem – like signing agreements and then realise it [digital solutions] can be rolled out across their whole business. It’s amazing the impact it has for them but also that it has on their customer experience.”
Communication is more important than ever
The way in which we communicate with staff has also changed. With so many businesses shifting to the model of a distributed workforce, ensuring communication remains clear is no easy task. Face to face meetings have been replaced with slack calls and Zoom Meets. This change in communication methods requires business owners to adopt new procedures and when it comes to communicating with customers, a conscious human approach is essential. In a study by Kantar, 70 per cent of respondents said brands should adopt messaging with a reassuring tone.
Indeed, when it comes to marketing messages brands need to ensure their purpose is front and centre. There is little doubt that businesses and brands that build stronger relationships with their employees, customers and suppliers, will be stronger post-coronavirus.
This content is brought to you in partnership with Docusign. If you’d like to find out more about how your business can adapt to the changing face of work in these challenging times sign up for our webcast series Not Business as Usual.