The vaccines are here! At this very moment, cargo planes are idling and ready for take-off. Dry ice is being stockpiled and hundreds of countries are finalizing delivery procedures for what will be history’s largest medical mobilization effort.
Although the end of COVID is in sight, our shared COVID-trauma will live on. COVID has re-programmed our habits and perspectives for years to come and corporations, small businesses and entrepreneurs are scrambling to anticipate and get ahead of these changes.
One thing forecasters seem to be unanimous about: we won’t be going to the office like before. We have set up home offices and have become used to the freedom in working from home. We’ve invested in collaboration software and have spent countless hours learning how to best use these products. At the beginning of the pandemic, there was a consensus that this sudden change to remote work would surely have a negative impact on productivity, but recent studies indicate that this hasn’t occurred. The World Economic Forum’s Pioneers of Change Summit reports that productivity has remained stable or even improved. If business leaders come to accept that we can be just as productive in the virtual world, then we can expect to see the following changes.
There will be less. Companies around the world will renegotiate their leases or pull up stakes. They will not continue to pay for airy rooms with empty desks. Of course, this will lead to lower rents and open up premium real estate to smaller players who are looking to establish their credibility. If you’re on the look-out for office space, 2021 will likely give you more affordable choices.
It was as if things stopped overnight. No more business flights, visits to suppliers or weekends spent at faraway trade shows. Many predicted disaster, but things went on as before: we learned to “zoom”, trade shows went virtual and everyone began signing up for webinars. And although we all agree that nothing can replace the impact of a live, in-person meeting; we also enjoy saving time and money. Some of that money will be reinvested in the technology that is replacing travel. There are new, elite meeting platforms being introduced, boardrooms are starting to look like television studios and a new breed of media consultants are helping to make our virtual presentations more compelling. There are plenty of new niches to fill for media-savvy entrepreneurs.
Before COVID, most corporate learning took place in a classroom at a scheduled hour. Although we had e-learning solutions, we used them sparingly. COVID forced us to take these tools out of the closet and learn to use them more effectively. New employees are now getting their onboarding online, along with their language lessons and sales training. E-learning is cheaper, more flexible, and likely more effective than the old classroom model, so it’s not going to go away. We’re now starting to become more discriminating about the platforms and content and this will continue to create a stronger demand for ed-tech professionals and content developers. If you are a teacher or trainer, it is time to develop new skills and branch out.
When the vaccine comes to town, make sure you get your shot. You’ll breathe easier. But don’t be surprised if your anxiety doesn’t immediately subside. COVID has plunged us even deeper into the virtual world and we’re likely to feel some discomfort as we learn to navigate. In the meantime, let’s anticipate the changes and take the opportunities as they present themselves.