Running a small business in a post-pandemic landscape looks much different than in the years preceding. As Covid-19 raged throughout 2020 and into 2021, businesses were forced to shift and adapt to meet the needs of lock-down scenarios.
Through changes in technology, schedules, employee roles and communication methods, small businesses adapted to stay operational. Streamlined procedures and new opportunities have presented themselves in the new business operating constructs, and business owners have embraced many of these as long-term operating solutions.
When the world locked down, workers were sent home, and businesses large and small began modifying technology and workflows to accommodate work-form-home lifestyles. Remote workspaces became the norm. Teams congregated in virtual meetings and took appointments via Zoom. The shift brought unanticipated benefits across the board as new talent pools became available in remote work and overhead costs for businesses, including rent and utilities, diminished without a constant need for large office space.
Entrepreneur and real estate investor, Steven Fata, experienced the shift firsthand and credits leaning into the benefits of a remote workforce as a long-term business strategy. “In retrospect, it’s hard to believe we didn’t have any remote work procedures in place,” Fata says. “We had to adapt so quickly, and now it’s hard to remember how we were managing without the remote and work-from home solutions we’ve found.”
Businesses who embraced the sudden need for a remote workforce maintained productivity and kept the doors open when the world stood still. Their ability to pivot meant the difference, in many scenarios, between closing for good and maintaining through the hardest months of the pandemic. Many businesses are opting to make work-from-home positions a new norm or, at very least, an option for their employees who can complete their tasks from a home workstation and don’t require a regular presence in a brick-and-mortar establishment.
A work-from-home workforce is not the only virtual aspect that will continue post-pandemic. As businesses from real estate offices to dance studios did their best to stay afloat, the virtual service option became a standard in many business sectors. Lockdown conditions necessitated innovation for all companies offering a service, and medical providers, entertainers, educators and retail establishments jumped on the virtual bandwagon to maintain their service offerings while consumers were stuck at home.
From the beginning of 2020, telehealth appointments have increased 38%, becoming a quarter-trillion-dollar reality even as Covid numbers stabilize and the population returns to other out-of-the-home activities. Education programs for school-aged learners were established throughout the country, and even as children returned to classrooms, virtual components remain to accommodate children who are learning from home, temporarily or on a more permanent basis. 98% of all higher education institutions now provide online and virtual class offerings. Dance studios, martial arts dojos and fitness programs took over the online space, converting classes from their studios to pre-recorded and live online events.
Even government organizations offered teleservices to keep lines moving and maintain services required by many U.S. residents. The need to access essential services does not diminish when public health concerns arise, and the shift to provide more services virtually allows businesses to account for inclement weather, future public shutdowns, and other unexpected events that would close a standard office setting.
To accommodate the move to remote workers and virtual services, businesses invested in technologies that would keep workers connected and make goods and services accessible. Online communication options, increased privacy measures and real-time customer service chats have been a game changer for purveyors of goods and services across the globe. Improved technology extends a company’s reach and facilitates streamlined communication options.
The use of online meeting spaces has skyrocketed since 2020, and the options for meeting virtually continue to stack. Advertising efforts have taken on a personal touch as even big names use social media platforms to reach their audiences in live videos or by broadcasting events that would have once been in person.
Technology that allowed workforces to move home and businesses to remain operational despite a country-wide lockdown are now facilitating hybrid service offerings and workplaces that blend the in-person and virtual aspects to provide an optimal consumer experience. As the world continues to recover from the unprecedented demands of the Covid-19 experience, businesses will continue to leverage their adaptability into new revenue streams and outreach methods to best serve ever-shifting client needs and expectations.