As we continue to work our way through this pandemic, it makes us wonder about—and even yearn for—what things will be like one year from now.
It does not take too much optimism to hope that we will get through these dark days and onto our post-COVID-19 lives, but what will that be like? How will we be doing business then? How will things have changed in our lives and companies in October of 2021?
As we look around us, things are already changing to accommodate our need to do business and meet today’s challenges. It is obvious that some of these changes are for the best and will improve the way we do business in the future—not to mention the way we deal with our vendors, customers, and associates. The old adage that “necessity is the mother of invention” has never been more true.
Looking ahead to what doing business will be like in one year, here are four things that we have been forced to do today that we will still be doing—and, hopefully, doing even better than now—in October of 2021.
1. Virtual Communications
Get used to all of the online calls because they are here to stay. If there is one thing that will come out of these hard times, it is that we will rely on technology more than ever as a way of communicating with one another. Virtual meetings will become part of our daily lives.
What we see now is only the beginning. Get ready for virtual sales meetings and calls, virtual customer visits and tours, and virtual audits and plant inspections. These are all happening as we speak and will continue into the future.
I also see us getting better at it and finding more innovative ways of communicating virtually in the near future. I can almost guarantee that the Zoom call of October 2021 will be much better than today. As far as those virtual trade shows go, I’m not so sure. They’re not all that great, and the whole premise of a trade show is for people to get together. We have to work on how to do virtual trade shows, though; there has to be a better way to do them if at all.
Ultimately, we will see a good mixture of the way it was pre-COVID and what is going on today.
2. Remote Work for Some Positions
We have all seen how efficient—and more productive—working remotely is for many people. I recently read that after the danger of COVID-19 has passed, over half of the people working remotely will continue to do so. It is a trend that was already coming our way, albeit slowly, but it has been greatly accelerated during these times.
We have all heard of $25-million factories being staffed by a handful of operators, proving that even manufacturing can be done remotely. Some companies in our industry are staffed globally with the engineering department in one country and the accounting department in another. It is inevitable that this trend will continue, but there will always be many positions where people have to come into work, and their physical presence is critical.
We already see marketing improving as companies have been forced to become more creative when it comes to getting their message out. During the past year, we have not been able to visit customers, which has put an extra burden of importance on marketing messaging. We have had to find ways to be in front of our customers without actually being in front of them.
We are all getting much better at this, with our virtual technical webinars and bulletins, the way we use social media, etc. We have improved the way we use these tools to get our companies in front of our customers, and we will continue improving the way we do this in 2021 and beyond.
4. Time Use
Time is being spent more efficiently already, and this will only get better. When we look back at the way we have been doing things for decades, we have realized that we have been wasting a great deal of time. Think of all the time it took to fly across the country or the world to meet a few customers and have a few meetings. We appreciated the value of a face-to-face meeting.
As we have learned, we can have meetings at any time of the day or night. We can talk with as many people as needed at the same time, no matter where they are. Then, think about all of the time—not to mention money—we can save by holding virtual meetings without having to travel. There is no doubt that this will save us thousands—if not millions—of dollars each year.
This is another point where we will see a mixture of today and pre-COVID times.
There is no doubt that once we get through with all of the challenges that we have faced and have overcome these difficult times, we will be better than ever. The way we do business will be changed and improved forever, and the way we deal with our vendor partners will be more efficient, productive, and rewarding than ever.