The last year (and a bit) has been a time of unparalleled strangeness for people and businesses alike. If we’re honest, even the most prepared of all businesses were unlikely to have been prepared for the scale and pace of change that was forced upon them by a pandemic that is still dominating the news cycles in the majority of countries on earth. With that said, learning from what’s happening now is the best way of being prepared for what might happen in the future, so it is a good idea to think about the Coronavirus pandemic with an eye on what it might teach us going forward.
It’s entirely possible that business has been changed forever going forward – while we’ll all try to regain some measure of equilibrium as soon as possible, it would be pointless to try and reset the clock to January 2020. After all, what has happened since all managed to happen in the world we had created for ourselves up to that point. So the following lessons should be applied without delay, as they will be of value to us in the future.
Now we know… how home working affects a workforce
Let’s not pretend the “working from home” conversation arrived fresh on any CEO’s desk at the beginning of Spring 2020. This was a live conversation beforehand, but it’s fair to say it wasn’t being treated with any real urgency. 2020 took the form of a long experiment in this field for many people – and the results seem to be mixed. It’s seemingly fair to say that productivity is actually somewhat enhanced, distraction is down, but work-life balance is for the moment not necessarily any better. People are reporting that they find it hard to switch off from work when they do everything from home.
Now we know… how secure our business networks are
The pandemic certainly allowed a certain amount of growth in the hacking industry – with black hat hackers looking for ways they could monetise the uncertainty. A potential avenue for many of them was business networks that suddenly had to function across remote access portals. This was a challenge to document storage, HR, and data protection compliance. Whether going forward we have a largely remote workforce, or close to 100% of workers get back in the office, the lessons we have learned about security are ones we can apply in either setting.
Now we know… the true strength of a flexible workforce
If you hadn’t heard of Zoom before March 2020, you were probably sick of the word by the beginning of April. It became very suddenly indispensable to businesses and was suddenly being name-checked in people’s social media posts. The fact that people were quickly saying that their last Zoom meeting “could have been an email” was funny, but also had the advantage of showing how quickly we adapt to situations – and the whole process showed, in some cases, how people may even work better when they’re freed to work in a different way.