2020 is coming to an end, and for most people it has been the worst economic situation to have impacted the entire world we have lived through. This is surely something we will never forget and it seems to many that they can remember nearly every day of 2020. However when the human race faces challenges our natural instinct is to overcome them, and the business community has succeeded in adapting and improving in so many ways in 2020. As I like to keep things positive, I would like to cover off the amazing changes to the way many businesses are now operating that will improve our way of life in the years to come and without COVID19 would have taken years and years to introduce.
Reduction in commuting time - this speaks for itself but so much productivity is lost each day because of the large number of people that “have to” work in an office. In some countries people are spending 2 to 4 hours a day just traveling to and from work. This gives more time to spend with family or on work. It also has the added benefit of reducing the impact on the environment by less cars on the road, or less energy being consumed for other methods of transport.
Adoption of video conferencing - I remember roughly 10 years ago visiting a client's office where they demonstrated their extremely high tech video conferencing set up that made it feel like the other person was in the room even though they were in another country. But the price, space requirements and complexities in scheduling meant that it was only used on special occasions for very important meetings. Fast forward to today and instead of sending a chat message or phoning someone, it is now commonplace for us to have a video call instead. The world was getting more and more distant with everyone choosing to use email or chat messages and even phone calls were happening less and less. Now people want that human interaction and a video call is a great way to do it. It also has the added benefit of saving time and money because we no longer need to travel to a client or customers office for a meeting, we can just set up a video call.
Acceptance of working from home - Many companies struggled with the concept of letting employees work from home. They felt their productivity would drop, they would spend all day watching TV etc. While this could still be the case, the majority of employees want to work and being at home makes no difference. Provided that they have a private area that allows them to focus, companies and employees are seeing there is a lot of value to having employees spend some of their time working from home. Companies are starting to adopt policies where employees can come a couple of days a week to the office and the rest of time work from home.
Reduction in requirements for office space - Office space is expensive and with the increasing demand in many city centers, the price was only getting higher and higher. COVID has turned this on it’s head and now people are choosing to work from home, more companies are thinking about flexible working arrangements, and companies are also choosing to relocate to more quiet areas with less population density. This has led to reduced space requirements in city centers and companies are able to either negotiate better rental arrangements or reduce the size of their office space and have all employees hotdesk when they come in a couple of days a week. This will allow companies to reduce their expenses on office rental and allow them to have better profits giving them more stability for the employees.
This is the new normal, one we will all have to get accustomed to. It will generate more innovation in how companies operate their businesses, how employees manage their days. But these are all positive moves for society and business. Let’s all look forward to the exciting times to come and value that COVID has been a benefit in many ways as it has helped the human race progress more quickly.