The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed every part of our lives, such as the economy, working conditions, and the job market, in less than two years.
In the past, offices were packed and bustling with life, now they've become ghost towns. The once filled subways with blue and white-collared workers, students, and commuters now look close to a post-apocalyptic setting. The retail stores and groceries crowded with shoppers now limit the number of people in the store.
The risk of contracting the disease and the hassle of going outside have made people stay at home.
The Pandemic has led most of us to rely even more on technology for our everyday activities. Applications such as Zoom, Slack, Trello, MS Teams, and similar software have gained more users due to the shift to remote classes. Google Classroom, Edmodo, Moodle, and the likes are now being used by millions of teachers and students around the world.
The world we live in isn't ideal, but with the help of technology, we can remain productive and fulfilled in our careers.
How did the pandemic impact working setups?
According to the US Census Bureau and the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 4.7 million people worked remotely pre-pandemic. It is expected to grow as different and more contagious COVID-19 variants, such as the Alpha and Delta variants, have emerged. In 2025, 36.2 million Americans will be working remotely.
The shift to WFH or work from home has its other perks aside from preventing disease contraction.
In a study by Leadership IQ, 53% of work from home employees report their productivity increased significantly. Working from home means fewer pointless meetings, lengthy and unnecessary procedures, office politics, and distractions. Employees also are more in control of their time, which empowers and motivates them to work.
Meanwhile, 39% had improved their creativity, and 49% had better mental health. These happy and productive employees produce better results and lower turnover rates.
Restructuring the company to adapt to the pandemic benefits both employees and employers. Lower turnover rates correspond to lower costs for sourcing and training new employees. Having an established team speeds up task completion and lessens the chances of workplace conflict. Keeping your workplace happy and in harmony is essential for morale and loyalty.
Additionally, having employees work at home also means less office rental and maintenance fees.
Like all things, all good things come with their weak points, too. One of the disadvantages faced by employers and managers today is the difficulty of monitoring employee performance. There are essential "background duties" that employees usually do.
With a WFH setup, some of these cannot be monitored like they used to. People may lose track of it and overdo it, which is a waste of time and effort. Or it may even be forgotten entirely.
Another problem is not having enough resources and skilled employees to smoothly transition from the office setup to WFH. Working from home requires a fast broadband service, a decent laptop or tablet, and of course, the employee's technical skills and technology literacy. This lack of technological and human resources forces some teams to postpone or cancel projects.
What does going back to the normal mean?
For better or for worse, some companies are looking to go back to normal. These companies should be well-prepared in terms of health and incentives.
Ideally, the weekly cleaning service for the workplace is a daily service instead. Health protocols such as social distancing should still be practiced, and masks should still be worn at all times, vaccinated or not.
Additionally, asking employees that enjoy the WFH setup to go back to the office may be a difficult task. It requires managers to ensure that doing so is worth it. This may entail additional effort to improve workplace culture and possibly politics.
Some companies like Microsoft, Twitter, and Spotify offer hybrid models which let employees work in the office for one to two days and at home for the rest of the week. Regardless of workplace models, most companies require their employees to get vaccinated. Non-compliance may lead to contract termination for others.
How did the pandemic impact sales?
With fewer people on the streets and more on their screens, some businesses sank while some soared. In a CBIZ Main Street Index survey, 48% of small businesses and 37% of medium businesses experienced a significant to severe impact.
Businesses in the Accommodation & Food Services, Arts & Entertainment, Educational Services, and Transportation sectors were the most affected among the industries included in the survey. Meanwhile, e-commerce sales are steadily rising. In 2020, sales increased to 32.4% and went up to 39% in the first quarter of 2021.
How can businesses manage these changes?
Before considering laying off your employees or closing up shop, here are a few strategies to save money and ultimately save your business.
Extend business hours if possible. This strategy may be helpful for restaurants or businesses that experience a surge of people at specific hours. The longer hours let customers be served in a socially distanced environment with lesser staff and other customers. Employees can be rewarded with more flexible working schedules this way.
Increase sales by pivoting and shifting to e-commerce. For example, instead of having your hair salon shut down, why not sell your shampoo and soap products online? The same goes for service-based businesses such as spas, pet grooming, restaurants, and many more. There is a wide array of technology and services available that can help your business.
Transforming your business for the online market doesn't require you to be tech-savvy or become a master at branding and creating content.
Outsourcing is a common strategy many business owners employ when starting a new project. Today, outsourcing companies provide various services. You should look out for those that provide graphic design services, link building services, and content writing services. This will allow you to focus more on your business and leave content marketing to the experts.
To save you the hassle of finding freelance workers or outsourcing companies, you can talk to our team, and we'll connect you with the right people.