Just like the smartphone revolutionized the way we live and do business, it is inevitable that COVID will transform the way corporations work and do their business.
Why is this transformation inevitable?
Survival is a very powerful instinct. COVID very abruptly required companies to shift the way they manage their employees and customers, and the way they conduct their business.
At first, most companies scrambled to stay afloat. But for most, it didn’t take long before they found their new bearing. As I wrote in a previous blog, some companies even excelled in the last few months, finding and creating ways to take their internal and external business to new heights that surpassed pre-COVID times.
Many large corporations are weathering the COVID storm. Others will eventually do the same as well. However, many of the radical changes and innovations that companies had to create and implement in order to survive during the last few months, as well as their benefits, cannot and will not go unnoticed.
Companies are having and will continue to have new realizations about how they think about and manage their business, employees, and customers.
Here are three selected examples out of many more I heard from clients:
- “We were afraid of how to stay focused and productive, but we actually managed to be more focused, productive, and efficient working virtually than in the office. We got more things done…”
- “We were afraid of how to keep our teams united, motivated and in communication when everyone works from home, but our teams are probably more aligned, united, motivated and coordinated than ever before…”
- “We were afraid of our ability to maintain customer presence, value and loyalty due to the fact that everyone was working from home, but it turned out that our presence with, and value to our customers has only increased given the fact that we conducted more virtual webinars, presentations, training sessions and other customer events than ever before…”
The most significant realization for many companies may be that they actually can continue to grow and improve their business with much less overhead, by incorporating a radically different virtual strategy to their business.
Many companies have rejected and resisted programs like working from home or as it is commonly referred to as “flexible work” for the belief that it undermines productivity and effectiveness. I am sure this myth will dissipate across the board.
I know of a few communication technologies companies that have not used their own video and conference call products to run their own business pre-COVID and, during the last few months, they have had to use them to conduct day-to-day work. They stayed very productive during the last few months at home. They and other companies like them are going to start using their own technologies post-COVID.
In fact, for many companies, the use of communication technologies previously had been almost solely to offset and reduce travel costs. In simple terms, instead of people traveling to an off-site meeting/conference in one location, they conduct their meetings virtually and save a lot of money.
Some types of events and meetings are far less powerful and effective virtually, and some are flat out impossible to conduct via video. However, now that companies have experienced the virtues of virtual platforms, they will feel much more comfortable to take advantage of them.
Many companies own or lease a large amount of very costly real estate footprint based on their traditional way of doing business. I am sure many companies will reassess their real estate needs and resize their portfolio, now that they have proven to themselves and their customers that they can be as successful, with a much greater reliance on virtual tools, platforms, and approaches.
Lastly, it seems to me that the virtual revolution will address the gender imbalance in the workplace. I believe that to a large degree the pre-COVID ‘work from home’ trend was initially promoted and primarily driven by and/or for mothers wanting to continue to develop their careers while having a family and caring for their children.
Therefore, the more the virtual revolution is accepted and takes hold, the more opportunities it will open up for women to take on more prominent roles in corporations. After all, in many of the old-fashioned companies that have resisted enabling working from home, opportunities for women’s advancement have been scarce.
The virtual revolution is inevitable. It is already underway. However, as always, some companies will lead the trend, and others will follow.
Will you be among the leaders or laggers in the virtual revolution?