The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 struck a major blow to many U.S. businesses. As reported by the Wall Street Journal, economists at the Federal Reserve estimate that “the pandemic resulted in the permanent closure of roughly 200,000 U.S. establishments above historical levels during the first year of the viral outbreak.” While many states have removed economic restrictions imposed during the pandemic and businesses have subsequently reopened, low vaccination rates around the world are giving rise to covid variants that threaten the promise of long-term economic stability.
However, as businesses struggled to make it through 2020, leaders across U.S. industries have learned powerful lessons. One of these lessons is the value, and ultimate purpose, of business technology. As noted by Wayne Esley, a member of Forbes Business Development Council, “We’re immersed in technology, and that’s great. However, we have to remember that our partners, customers, and teams are people. We have to acknowledge difficult situations and listen.”
It’s no longer enough just to have technological tools available – companies need to use these tools to support the humans behind it all.
Business as Usual vs. Labor Demands
As we emerge from the pandemic, business leaders take these lessons and integrate them into their operational models. More people getting vaccinated and more kids going back to school, will business return to normal too? While it appears they might, our workplaces may be changed forever.
While remote operations were thrust upon businesses by force in 2020, many companies opt to continue running remote for the days ahead. New business technologies seem focused on advancing fully remote capabilities and integrating hybrid working models. This move is primarily driven by labor market demands, which predominantly embraced the disruption of the traditional, Monday to Friday, 9 to 5, cubicle work environment. According to a recent survey by Business Insider, nearly 40% of workers said they would consider quitting if their bosses made them return to the office full time.
Hybrid working is gaining traction after the coronavirus pandemic and as the economy begins to recover. Companies who decide on a hybrid working model will need to reimagine their ‘office’ spaces. While integrating a modern ERP solution that supports hybrid work environments is critical, a cloud-based ERP solution provides unique opportunities for hybrid success.
That’s because a cloud-based ERP solution homogenizes business systems, bringing team members together for seamless collaboration – whether they are working in the office or not. Solid technology and good communication processes is how businesses continue to operate effectively while working remotely, in the office, or somewhere in between.
Continued Collaboration, Increased Security
The COVID-19 pandemic has also led many people to reconsider the social role that office work has in their lives. While they may not be eager to return to the highly restrictive in-person working models that dominated pre-pandemic working environments, the deep value and satisfaction that comes from collaborating with others face to face is still something people cherish.
Reimagining offices to be less individualistic and focused more on dynamically promoting collaborative environments is key to successfully integrating a post-pandemic hybrid working model. But cybersecurity needs to remain an immediate priority
With more people working remotely than ever before, organizations are increasingly extorted through ransomware, malware, and socially engineered data breaches by criminals attracted to newly accessible, potentially unstable systems.
The future of tech is companies making cybersecurity assessments a top priority, dedicating resources to improving systems, training staff, and identifying operational weaknesses that open the door to hackers and other cybersecurity issues.
The Pandemic Not Over Yet
While 89% of Americans say the coronavirus situation is improving, it is not safe to declare the pandemic over yet. As communal spaces of any kind exponentially increase the risk of spreading germs, office sanitation has received a renewed focus, with many companies looking to touchless technologies as part of comprehensive safety solutions.
Cloud-based ERP solutions are flexible enough for team members to continue creatively utilizing spaces in a way that works best for them. Not only will the future of business tech include robust upgrades to ERP software functionality and collaborative office equipment, but organizations also have a distinct responsibility to use technologies that keep their employees and clients as safe as possible.
Some examples of touchless technology that promotes office sanitation include improvements to hands-free teleconferencing, integrating contactless visitor check-ins, and installing digital signage displays.
The Future Is Now
Post-pandemic technology is already here. Aside from future innovations in AI technology and hyper-automation, perhaps all that remains is for organizations to creatively apply existing technologies to support non-traditional working models – which, in turn, are poised to dominate work cultures in the future.