Remote and hybrid working may be here to stay
Possibly the greatest impact that Covid-19 will have on organizations in the long term may be changed to the working environment. While remote work has been around for decades, it was a relatively uncommon working arrangement. Covid-19 completely changed this – suddenly employees, that had never had the option of working remotely, overnight began working from home.
Although remote work has inherently had some impacts on how work gets done and colleagues collaborate, many jobs that previously employees would never have considered allowing their staff to complete off-site have now been fully transitioned to a remote setup. Investments have been made to upgrade IT infrastructures (from VPN arrangements and conferencing offerings to investments in employee laptops), such that many of the difficulties that originally would have initially prevented companies from even considering offering remote work to their employees have now been resolved.
The reasons why remote work may be here to stay though may have as much to do with employee attitudes and demands. Employees have become accustomed to remote work. The prospect of having to work from an office environment (and to travel in both directions), seems a lot less appealing than it once did. Similarly, employers, who once took needing an office for granted, have begun to question whether it is really necessary to incur the cost of providing offices for all their employees when it is possible for many to conduct their work remotely. While naturally, some jobs will transition back to in-person, there are a large number of both employees and companies that have seen benefits associated with the movement of working from home. Whether it is full remote work, or a partial hybrid environment (potentially coming into the office one or two days a week to maintain links with colleagues) – there are likely to be much more ‘unconventional working environments’ going forward.
Online deliveries may be increasingly common
Another change during covid has been the growth in online shopping and deliveries. While this has clearly been a trend that predated the pandemic, a desire to remain at home has heightened the demand for product deliveries – and particularly groceries. People who would never have ordinarily have considered getting their products delivered (or someone picking up and delivering a takeaway), have embraced online deliveries of goods.
Although naturally some people will prefer to return to their original shopping behaviors (and others will never have seen the need to order groceries online – continuing their regular shopping behaviors), others who have tried this new way of buying groceries are likely to stick with the change.
New opportunities created from business closures
Another change that Covid has had is the permanent closure of many establishments. While some closures are likely to be permanent in nature – representing gradual industry decline that has come to head in the pandemic – others are likely to return, with new companies forming to fill gaps in the market.
A key thing to bear in mind when considering establishing a new firm is whether the underlying business logic has changed in the post-covid world. While consumer behavior may have changed in some areas – meaning some viable business opportunities are now longer likely to persist – others may bounce back s the world begins to return to normal.
Greater recognition of the importance for firms to undertake contingency planning
A final change that is likely to be permanent following Covid is a greater awareness of the need for contingency planning. While it was hard to have foreseen the impact that Covid (or a global pandemic more broadly) was likely to have, being prepared for various environmental changes is important for organizations. Indeed, those firms with robust supply chains (potentially multi-sourcing key parts) were better prepared to adapt to different suppliers to account for supply disruption. The pandemic has highlighted the need to be aware of how environmental changes can impact the organization, and how best to respond should the firm face disruption to its operations.