The emergence of coronavirus in late 2019 has had a dramatic effect on all areas of our lives. From distancing, isolation, and the virtual shutdown of entire nations around the world, COVID-19 has had a transformative influence – affecting everything from how we communicate and socialize to how we shop and work.
There’s little doubt the death toll has been tragic through the disease, but many experts also suggest the virus may end up changing other areas of our lives forever. Certainly, even with the promise of global vaccination looming ever closer by the day, many people will find it hard to drop the habits that have become so ingrained over the last year. For example, the wearing of masks is likely to persist long after COVID has passed – as is the newly-adopted practice of coughing into our elbows, keeping a distance from others, and a general fear of crowded places.
A forced rethink of the world of work
However, while it seems almost inevitable our social conventions have likely changed (at very least in the immediate future), perhaps the biggest influence of coronavirus will transpire to be on the way we work in the years to come. The enforcement of lockdowns and distancing made companies sit up and look closely at the available opportunities to allow staff to work from home. As firms moved their operations online to allow employees to still perform their duties remotely, so they began to realize that perhaps the established ideas of office working weren’t required after all. Much of modern business is done online now anyway, so the need for staff to be physically present has significantly reduced. By partnering with a managed service provider (MSP) IT company, firms have found they could move the workplace into a virtual environment, all safe in the knowledge that their networks and communications were secure.
Through remote working, most companies have noticed little to no drop in worker efficiency while many staff reported enjoying the fulfillment of a better work/life balance. Of course, all this needs to be tempered with the fact that, in most countries, kids too were isolating so needed home education from their mums and dads but, taken as a bigger picture, it seems most employees were in relative agreement that they preferred the freedom of working remotely.
Perhaps more significantly, companies have also begun to question whether those expensive offices, equipment, and staff provisions like cafeterias, company cars, and so on, are actually worthwhile and justifiable expenses.
And right now, they’re heavily investing in tools that can help them manage their remote workforces, like user activities monitoring tools, video meeting platforms and project management software.
The seemingly unstoppable rise of e-commerce
Through lockdown, the world had no choice but to move online for its shopping needs. Almost without exception, the companies that have weathered the coronavirus storm best (and in some cases, even profited) were those that already had a strong online presence and dedicated e-commerce operations. With close social contact off the cards, people had little choice but to explore online, making a company website and strong search engine optimization (SEO) campaigns a necessity for firms to garner attention, generate virtual footfall and maintain sales.
E-commerce was already starting to eclipse the traditional, real-world, brick and mortar business structures, but COVID-19 accelerated the dominance of the online sector – many experts believe by as much as six years.
While the world slowly comes out of the year-long nightmare of coronavirus, and despite much uncertainty remaining about what the future holds, it’s almost beyond question that life beyond the disease will be considerably different from the one we knew before – particularly when it comes to the world of work.