COVID through a multidimensional lens
From the beginning of the pandemic, we have been focusing on the destructive side of the Coronavirus. The news headline stories seem to always zoom-in on businesses closing or reducing staff, on increased numbers of deaths and the challenges of complying with social distancing measures. But my main question is "What happened to the positive side of COVID-19?" Aren't there any success stories of businesses that grew or thrived due to its impact? Although the pandemic has forced many out of business it has also increased the opportunities for many businesses and showed the need for reshaping the way business is conducted. It has catalyzed new ways of doing things – the way business works, communicates, and market products – that could be here to stay.
Currently, if technology is not part of your business operations, I suggest you consider exiting the industry. Over the years, executives of major organizations have highlighted the need for digitization in the workplace. This need was further reinforced when the COVID-19 pandemic came in full force and disrupted the business environment. Probably one of the biggest changes seen implemented across the world is the move to remote working.
Businesses were forced to jump head first into the world of digital technology as a means of survival. The pandemic crisis has rewired consumer behavior in transacting business resulting in the global demand for remote employment. The bar graph above depicts how the need for telecommuting has rocketed due to lockdowns. Telecommuting not only caters to the new customer demand, but it has also reduced organizational expenses of businesses. Technology improves efficiency in the workplace while constricting business expenses.
There is this saying "Out with the old, in with the new!" No longer are business executives slaves to leaving their office to go sit in a room to discuss matters of importance. With the new norm of utilizing technology, businesses have adopted online platforms such as Google Meet, Zoom, WebEx, Microsoft Teams, etc., to host training, meetings, conferences, etc., right there in their offices while at the same time conducting business as per usual. In a recent report by Michael Liedtke, it is stated that Zoom finished its fiscal second quarter with 370,200 customers with at least 10 employees, an increase of approximately 303,900 customers more than the year before. Also, in its latest quarter, the company earned nearly $186 million, or 66 cents per share, as compared to the $5.5 million it earned at the same time last year. Wow, isn't that amazing?
Although there were many disruptions, we cannot deny that one major positive impact of COVID-19 was seen in the retail industry. Businesses such as Astaphan, Whitchurch, Fine Foods etc., ride the pandemic by accelerating their digital initiatives and double down on online sales, creating more delivery options. These initiatives included Click & Collect, curbside pickup, and home delivery. If it was not for COVID-19, these initiatives would have taken years to plan and execute. In a matter of weeks, they were designed, tested and put into effect. We must applaud our businesses for perfectly executing these bold moves.
COVID-19 is clearly teaching businesses that they can no longer afford to be complacent, and there is a need to constantly reevaluate their processes and strategies – not only for the resilience and sustainability of the company, but for the good of their workforce and customers as well.
While it is uncertain how long the business environment will feel the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic, it's undeniable that it has forced organizations to leverage innovation and technology to weather through the crisis and prepare for the future.
References: Liedtke, M. (August, 2020). Zoom rides pandemic to another quarter of explosive growth. Retrieved from https://apnews.com