If you’ve glanced at the financial news in the past few weeks, it’s apparent that the post-COVID era is upon us. That means that along with all the negatives like continuing uncertainty and inflation, the economy is finally expanding again. For most companies that were able to survive the pandemic without going under, headlines about getting back to normal are a welcome relief from those long months of pinching pennies and simply trying to stay afloat.
But, with new eras come new challenges. For the next few years, it’s essential that surviving entities keep a sharp eye on several core factors of the business mission, particularly the basics components of financial stability, longevity, and success. No one wants to face another economic emergency unprepared. Here’s a shortlist of what every business owner and manager should be thinking about as the global economic scene begins to move back into a higher gear.
Payroll and Benefits Changes
The entire structure of the workplace has changed, primarily in terms of who works where, how much they’re paid, and what benefits they receive. For example, some of the major insurance companies now use telecommuting as the norm when hiring new employees. Those who work from home incur fewer support costs, primarily with regard to office space.
Additionally, there’s much less legal risk for owners when workers are based in their own homes. At-work accidents become a rarity, for one thing. The modern business entity will likely spend much less on worker-related expenses, benefits, and liability insurance coverage.
The importance of sophisticated fleet management systems in the post-pandemic, cost-conscious era of business can’t be overstated. In fact, even small companies with tiny vehicle fleets are discovering that software products exist that make fleet management much more affordable and manageable than ever. In addition to things like dash cams and a complex telematics system to keep tabs on every company-owned vehicle, owners are making sure to keep better records of trip routes, fuel usage, driver hours, and other points of business and legal requirements.
Why? Because precise, granular data about every aspect of vehicle usage can help managers control costs, keep drivers safe, and monitor every relevant parameter of every trip. If you’d like to learn more about how a typical telematics system operates, you can review an online resource and find out the basic facts.
The move to a telecommuting workforce has been a problem for some organizations. Those who are not accustomed to working from home often suffer in terms of efficiency and motivation. Plus, there are endless distractions in a home-based office environment.
Customer service other phone-based tasks often fall prey to the telecommuting drop in productivity. Fortunately, many corporations initiated re-training for at-home workers so everyone could learn to adapt more quickly and not suffer a decline in work quality. For high-level jobs like legal consulting, tax planning, and engineering, there has not been such a problem with the switch to home-based jobs, mainly because a large percentage of those kinds of employees are not paid by the hour but by direct results (completed projects, client hours billed, etc.).
New Kinds of Competitors
With the boom of online e-commerce during the COVID lockdown, many traditional retailers are finding it hard to get back to business as normal. They’re learning very quickly that if they don’t stake their position in online markets, they stand to lose customers and profits. One of the key ways e-commerce sellers can now effectively compete with large retailers is through excellent service and rapid delivery. So many consumers now prefer to order online or over the phone that local brick-and-mortar stores have all had to add home delivery options, even for customers who live across the street. When smaller, more agile online sellers can deliver products within 24 hours of order placement, local retailers are forced to offer better, faster service just to maintain their old customer base.
Interestingly, the need for IT security measures, with so many workers handling sensitive documents and files from home computers, has increased the need for IT services in entities of all sizes, but particularly for financial institutions, insurance carriers, and health care service providers. In a way, this great dispersal of workers from centralized offices to their individual homes presented a nightmare scenario at first. This single obstacle was often said to be the thing that would prevent the widespread adoption of telecommuting. Now, IT experts have some experience in securing home offices from the ravages of system-wide hacks and malware attacks.
In times of economic austerity, which was one aspect of the COVID pandemic, organizations learn how to do without many unessential things, including excess office space, huge inventories of goods, and more. One of the main ways the pandemic affected the economy was reducing the need for excessive office space. As noted above, many corporations switched over to home-based workforces permanently. Others now give workers the option to telecommute if they wish. The bottom line of the entire crisis has been a reduction in the need for multiple office locations for companies of all types. In urban areas, firms that used to maintain dozens of addresses have cut down considerably. What they lose in convenience they gain in savings and efficiency.
The entire pandemic situation was a hard lesson for millions of business owners and individuals. The organizations that survived the lockdowns and economic slowdowns are the lucky ones, but they are now in a position to leverage their newfound knowledge. One of the main reasons so many small entrepreneurs, startups, and smaller entities had to close their doors was a simple one: lack of an emergency fund.
Ironically, most working adults know the importance of setting aside at least three months’ worth of income for a rainy day. Unfortunately, too many companies did not follow that advice. From 2021 onward, expect to see organizations of all sizes and types creating contingency funds and accounts for another unexpected financial downturn.