To prepare for the post-pandemic world, business leaders must understand COVID-19 implications for business, the economy, and society.
As the pandemic continues to unfold, it will continue affecting many areas of life, from the economy to daily life.
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Given the scope and depth of the crisis, it is almost certain that the world will not return to normal after it ends.
At least, it won’t return to the same normal we once knew – instead, the world will move into a “new normal.”
Below, we’ll discuss what that means for the business landscape.
COVID-19 Implications for Business: 4 Areas to Watch Closely
“The new normal” or “the next normal” are terms that many experts and researchers use to label the post-COVID era.
McKinsey, for instance, coined the term “the next normal,” suggesting that the world after the pandemic will, in many ways, be fundamentally changed from the years before 2020.
Other research firms use different terminology to discuss that era, but they come to many of the same conclusions.
Here are a few areas that will be affected by COVID-19, both now and in the years ahead:
The Economy and the Business Landscape
The global health crisis quickly turned into a financial crisis that has affected nearly every sector.
As a result of the pandemic:
- Governments imposed lockdowns, quarantines, and business restrictions, which in turn disrupted many companies’ ability to operate
- Employers implemented telecommuting policies whenever possible, as well as other measures designed to protect employees
- Many industries experienced major financial hardships, if not complete dissolution
- A few select sectors were able to continue operating normally, and an even smaller number experienced growth as a result of the pandemic
As of this writing, predictions suggest that the pandemic could continue for at least one more year, though there is still no way to know when the pandemic will end.
It will undoubtedly take years to recover from this crisis, so companies should prepare for a new competitive landscape, shrinking budgets, and different spending behavior.
Customer Behavior and Expectations
As mentioned, the pandemic will impact customers’ spending habits and budgets.
However, there will be other implications for customers, whether they are B2B buyers or consumers.
- Health conscientiousness will be on the rise, so they will pay closer attention to products’ health and safety features
- People may spend far more time at home, also due to health concerns, which will fuel industries such as ecommerce, virtual technology, and home products
- Consumers’ confidence and trust may be harder to earn, due to the uncertainty, volatility, and noise created during the crisis
Many organizations have already had to pivot in order to keep up with changing customer sentiment and demand.
Since customers’ needs and behavior will continue to shift in the years ahead, companies must pay close attention to those shifts and adjust accordingly.
Employees and the Workplace
The workplace has already undergone major changes in the first few months of 2020.
From remote working to increased health precautions, most companies have implemented major shifts to the workplace.
Though these types of changes will certainly affect workplaces going forward, not all of them will become permanent.
For instance, some have claimed that “remote work is the future,” but surveys have shown that not everyone wants to telecommute full time. There is, however, increased interest in part-time remote work.
Going forward, business leaders can expect that:
- A certain segment of employees will be interested in remote work, either part-time or full-time
- Trepidation over health and safety may remain for some time to come, so it would be wise to permanently implement health-related changes to the workplace
- The post-COVID world will become far more digital, as discussed below, which should compel business leaders to focus heavily on digital adoption and transformation
In many respects, COVID-19 has only accelerated workplace trends that are already present, such as remote working and digital transformation.
Digital Adoption and Transformation
Digital budgets dipped during 2020, but investments related to digital transformation remain strong.
In fact, there is a good chance that the post-COVID era will be more digitally advanced than it would have been had the pandemic not occurred.
The outbreak has, for instance, fueled many technologies and technology-driven innovations that reduce the risk of infection.
- Robots have been used to pack meat, clean streets, monitor social distancing, greet customers, and more
- Telehealth and telemedicine – offering consultations and treating patients online – have surged
- Virtual reality technologies have also seen increase usage during the pandemic, and the VR market has a strong outlook
- To adapt to the pandemic, many companies have adopted cloud computing, remote working software, digital adoption platforms, and other tools to maintain business continuity
Business leaders and CIOs should prioritize digital adoption and transformation, since trends such as these will ultimately reshape the economy after COVID-19 ends.
In fact, since the economy is becoming so digital so quickly, an organization’s digital maturity may become a major competitive differentiator – more so than it is today.