What Will Returning to Work Look Like?

The coronavirus outbreak has caused widespread concern and economic hardships for consumers, communities and businesses alike. The situation has evolved rapidly since it’s onset, and business leaders across the globe have found themselves tested on everything from their crisis management skills to operations and supply chain alternatives.

In a PWC survey, finance leaders across the United States listed their top three concerns with respect to COVID-19 as financial impact, a potential global recession, and the effects on the workforce/reduction in productivity. Indeed, some of the biggest companies in the world are preparing to tell their employees it’s time to return to work.

While some companies will undoubtedly reinvent themselves post-pandemic, for many it will be a race back to business-as-usual. Whether your business is taking a new path or trying to hold steady, let’s take a look at some of the changes that will likely stick around – even after things start returning to normal.

Working From Home

If there’s one thing that is certain, it’s that more businesses will note the effectiveness of employees who work from home even as offices reopen. While the flexibility that working from home offers can reduce turnover and increase productivity and morale, it also can greatly reduce a business’s overhead expenditures.

How many companies will close or dramatically reduce the size of their offices in favour of continuing to work from home after they’ve been forced to give it a trial run? Power bills, rent, office supplies, amenities – these are all expenses that are reduced or outright eliminated when your workforce works remotely. While there are certainly great benefits to having your employees under one roof, it’s likely that we’ll see a major increase in telework after the pandemic ends compared to before it started.

Online Shopping & Delivery

While online shopping isn’t anything new, social distancing has turned the dial up to 11. In particular, food courier and grocery delivery have seen major upticks in popularity as people strive to avoid public places. Everybody has to eat, after all.

Even as our businesses reopen, our shopping habits have likely changed for good. People across the globe have found a new appreciation for the ease of buying things online. While brick-and-mortar stores aren’t likely to disappear overnight, e-commerce will continue to grow at a rapid pace.

Service Industry Methodology

The coronavirus has the potential to permanently shift the way many service industries operate. Consumers across the globe will think much harder about the health implications of squeezing many people into small areas. Crowded restaurants, movie theatres, concert halls – the coronavirus has been a true test for businesses that depend on social gathering.

In Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began, service industry business owners are finding that consumers are still reluctant to gather even as everything reopens. As the world’s population continues to grow every year, how can the service industry account for humanities newfound appreciation for personal space?

While the business world is eager, any and all return-to-work efforts will undoubtedly be a gradual process. The return will happen in waves as our demand for certain products and industries grow. These times are truly unprecedented – only time will tell how our coronavirus-induced anxieties will affect the world in the long term.