Coronavirus has changed our lives. Millions of us are now working from home, trying to balance care responsibilities with work. At this stage, it’s not known what the long-term effects of the virus will be, but the indications are that some working practices will change permanently.
Technology has been the enabler for the changes in how we now work. It has played a critical role in allowing businesses to continue to operate as the country implemented measures to control the virus. Whereas before the pandemic hit, many companies were hesitant to embrace technology fully; now they simply have no choice.
Let’s look at the new working practices likely to become permanent in a post-pandemic world:
1. Remote working will become more common
Despite issues with congested broadband causing poor connectivity, technologies such as cloud storage, VoIP and video conferencing have enabled businesses to move to remote working.
Previously, many organisations viewed remote working with suspicion, wrongly assuming employees wouldn’t be as productive. They also thought they would have less control over what staff were doing.
However, remote working has benefits for both businesses and their employees. Benefits include:
Improved customer service: allowing staff to work flexible hours means they can provide better service to their customers outside office hours.
Better work-life balance: employees benefit from not having to commute. Instead, they can spend time with their families or doing leisure activities. Being able to work flexible hours can help with childcare, too.
Saves money: an added bonus for employees is they also save on travel, food and childcare costs. Organisations can save on overheads such as rent and bills as they will need less office space. They can also grow the business without having to increase office space.
Talent attraction and retention: offering remote working can help organisations attract and keep top talent as it’s a much sought after employment benefit.
Improved business continuity: if the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s that many UK businesses can adapt in a crisis. Remote working means firms won’t be impacted by factors that stop staff getting to work, such as adverse weather or rail strikes.
Better for the environment: organisations can reduce their carbon footprint as fewer devices will be run from their business premises, reducing electricity consumption. Emissions from staff travelling to work will also decrease.
2. There will be less business travel
Travel is likely to be restricted until health officials say it’s safe to travel. Even then, many will not want to take the risk of travelling when they are in close proximity to many people. It means travelling to business meetings, and events such as conferences and trade shows will be significantly reduced.
It’s not all bad news, however. The enforced use of video conferencing during the pandemic has shown that organisations can conduct business without face-to-face meetings. While not always appropriate, holding video meetings or larger events over apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams is in most cases a viable alternative.
Zoom, for example, allows global video meeting with up to 1,000 people. Google Hangouts Meet allows live streaming to an audience of 100 000.
It’s more challenging to build business relationships with someone you haven’t met. However, video calling allows you to interact with someone face-to-face and to understand the nuances of a conversation better.
3. Businesses will expand their online presence
Businesses who don’t have an online presence or only maintain a basic website will need to make them a priority to keep up with the shift to online trading that has happened since the pandemic hit. Bricks-and-mortar business premises have shut down, forcing business owners to move online or lose income.
Although there will be a return to some form of high street and out-of-town shopping, social-distancing measures will put some people off returning to their regular shopping patterns. Businesses will also want to ensure they have a contingency plan in place should anything like coronavirus happen again. E-commerce will continue to thrive as companies focus on long term digital strategies.
4. Online learning will become the norm
Businesses have been encouraging their staff to undertake online training courses while they are working from home. This trend looks like it will continue when the pandemic is over. E-learning will overtake face-to-face learning as the principal training medium. Businesses will invest in online training which provides the flexibility of being able to learn on any device at any time.
While social distancing and limitations on travel are likely to continue, we won’t fully understand what life after coronavirus holds for some time yet. However, it’s clear that some working practices businesses have adopted in response to the pandemic are here to stay.
Primotax is a leading tax specialist accountancy firm based in Crawley. If you’d like to speak to someone about your business finances, contact us today to book an appointment.