What the Future of Business Could Look Like Post COVID-19

While many used to see a pandemic as a thing of science fiction, hats off to the leadership team at Wimbledon. They took out a pandemic insurance policy in 2003 costing approximately £25.5m to date, and they’re about to get a £113m payout.

Not a bad investment, hey?

Perhaps in the aftermath of the financial crisis, investment priorities lay elsewhere for many businesses. Or planning that long term was seen as foolhardy.

But I am hopeful that COVID-19 is the lightning-bolt moment for business leaders to break the cycle of short-termism.

I’m also hopeful that societies will continue questioning how we want to work, how we value relationships, our impact on the planet, buying locally, our healthcare, and where we will live in the future. These questions will have an impact on how businesses attract customers, develop talent, innovate, and compete.

As this is such a large topic, I am going to focus on the future of work and improving our health.

The Future of Work

Virtualisation. Back in March, BlackLine’s InTheBlack annual conference was turned into a virtual event, fast. We all worked remotely across time zones and used a combination of tools to produce the event.

Fewer office spaces. I know of businesses that have not renewed expensive leases or are starting to downscale their spaces. It will take time to see the real impact on real estate, but watch this space.

Flexible working. After two to three months of working from home, some are saying they miss the office. A happy medium may prevail, only traveling in for key meetings, month-end deadlines, and team building.

As long as you hit your contracted hours, who cares if you did three of those hours on Sunday?   

Balancing childcare. We might find that being able to work from home will remove the barriers that were there for women after having children. The same applies to men, who are tired of missing out on milestones and want to be more hands-on.

That might be a longer-term cultural shift, but the barrier has been cracked.

Improving Our Health

Impact of big cities. For those in more hands-on roles, working from home is not going to be possible. A practical lesson that could curtail future spreads is for businesses to stagger start times.

Or perhaps we might see more businesses moving out of overpopulated cities to manage staff well-being?

Hygiene awareness. This re-awakening of our health might see some sizeable cost savings. Looking at the US in 2018, according to the Integrated Benefits Institute, the cost of sick leave was $530b for employers. In the UK, a VitalityHealth survey found that this figure was £77.5 billion a year.

If only 30% of employees maintain their new habits, that’s potentially huge savings for businesses. Imagine if we could improve that rate further?

Final Thoughts

In business, we have to be willing to become change management ninjas. There will be lots of experimentation with new IT tools and ways of working and becoming omnichannel will be the goal.

Mistakes will be made, but we need to let go of the stigma of failure and embrace becoming flexible and continuously learning.  

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