2020 was a banner year for change. The succeeding years will continue to see more changes, as people learn how to live and work in a post-pandemic world. As businesses continue to find ways to survive and thrive during this period of changes and disruptions, many are curious to understand what the next normal looks like.
In this video, I will endeavour to answer the question, “what does the next normal look like?” and provide insight into how the next normal can affect your business.
The covid-19 pandemic has drastically altered lifestyles. People have reshaped how they live, how they play, and how they work. People have discovered new hobbies and new experiences, perhaps to replace those that they couldn’t indulge in because of pandemic restrictions, such as travel. Even work habits have changed and is expected to continue to change.
Lifestyle shifts also mean that people’s consumption habits and behaviour have also been transformed. People don’t buy the same things anymore. Consumers have discovered a new set of products, services, and experiences that they now consider essential. Their values have also changed, with many consumers carefully considering how brands and companies have responded to the pandemic in their purchase decisions. Where and how they purchase products, services, and experiences have also undergone a shift—the shopping experience may no longer require a drive to the store as many businesses have expanded into e-commerce platforms and many have started to offer delivery services.
This is what many call the “next normal.” How will these shifts affect how businesses operate in the long term?
- The next normal will see businesses continuing to expand digitally to serve customers
A business’s online presence is still and will continue to be a significant asset, especially in the consumer business. Many experts believe that consumers will continue to transact online and that companies should continue to provide digital features and services to address lifestyle shifts.
Business-to-business or B2B companies will also need to continue operating online as their digital assets, such as their website and social media channels, continue to be platforms for potential clients to communicate with them. These assets have also become platforms to offer services to existing clients. In the next normal, businesses, whether B2C or B2B, will continue to invest in online marketing and advertising. In fact, in a new study by GrowthOps commissioned by Crazydomains, the pandemic has caused a 6% jump in online marketing spend on average, both for B2C and B2B companies.
- The flexible work set-up will continue in the next normal
For example, Single O Café, a coffee company with 3 Australian-based café locations and one overseas location, had to quickly pivot in the wake of pandemic restrictions in the first quarter of 2020, including offering coffee brews online. Even as restrictions have eased, Single O continues to serve their customers both in-house and online.
Even before restrictions have started to ease, many companies have already expressed that they foresee employees working remotely in the long term, such as Amazon, American Express, Microsoft, and Square, to name just a few. Companies have discovered that remote work can be a cost-efficient strategy and that it offers a level of flexibility to their staff. In the next normal, potential and existing employees will look for companies that offer work flexibility as studies have shown that flexibility positively influences productivity and overall employee well-being.
PricewaterhouseCoopers, a multinational business advisory services network of firms, undertook a major study, published as The Future of Work, which included more than 2,700 respondents who shared their work experience, how this has changed, and what their preferences are for the future. The study results provided interesting insight into how the work environment—particularly where they work—influences what they want to work on and how they work on it. One implication reads:
“The survey showed that people would prefer to do specific types of tasks – including administrative work, individual work such as research and analysis, and self-development – at home, while using the office to collaborate and connect with colleagues and clients.”
Strategic Online, a Sydney-based digital marketing agency, currently employs a remote team of five full-time staff who are free to work from anywhere they want to.
CEO and Digital Strategy Director Katina Beveridge says: “Engaging virtual staff has not only lowered operating costs for the business, but also gives team member’s greater ownership of their work and contribution to the team.” This set up has contributed to their growth, and the company has plans of expanding.
Founded in 2015, SixPivot, a software design and development business, implemented a radical remote working policy during the pandemic. The policy allowed its 28 staff to work from anywhere, even if it’s on vacation in Mexico. Founder and chief executive Faith Rees says flexible working conditions started with the premise that “people should work from where they work best”. In practice, this means that SixPivot’s team could work from any functional space, be it at home, in a café, or on the road in a campervan.
These are radical changes in workplace policies and consumer lifestyles, which seems like a natural response to a massive disruption such as a global pandemic. There are many opportunities for growth and development.
There are many opportunities for growth and development. But this also means that businesses should continue to work to ensure that they can respond to these changes. The opportunities are there, and how you identify and respond to them will be what makes a difference for your business.