Italy is starting to lift lockdown restrictions, China is almost entirely free of COVID-19, most of the United States is looking to resume some business. We are starting to see opportunities to resume life as social distancing has an effect and lowers the spread of the first real pandemic the modern world has had. But what can we expect post-coronavirus?
Well, to start, I don’t think we should be expecting anything post-corona anytime soon. Instead, I think the next year, until a vaccine is developed and put into play, and even the next few years while we see how the virus mutates, we’ll be living in a co-corona world. I think we’re going to see face masks become fashion, shaking hands get traded for more distant greetings, and other measures that incorporate health safety measures into everyday life.
What does this mean for the business world? There’s going to be a lot of changes. Now, until things actually happen, no one can really tell how this will pan out, but here’s what I predict.
An increase in digital nomadism
One of the biggest changes is going to be a huge jump in the number of people working from home. A lot of businesses opted to have employees work from home rather than shut down completely. It’s a smart choice, but it also goes to prove that all those times people were told “we need you in the office, your job can’t be done from home” were lies.
Additionally, companies are going to debate the value of paying for a giant office building, as well as the utilities and supplies that go along with that, when employees could simply work from home. Studies have already shown, that in general, people tend to be more productive when working from home, and the schedule flexibility is going to make it harder to draw a strict line between work hours and personal time, which benefits the company.
It’s not all bad. Working from home means employees will have more flexibility and independence – if you need to schedule a doctor’s appointment, you can do so without feeling guilty or obvious about showing up late to the office. It means parents don’t have to miss work to stay home with sick children. It means people who are already living paycheck to paycheck don’t have to worry about missing work because they themselves are sick – they can work from bed, in between naps, and at most, their productivity will drop for a few days. Most employees will welcome the opportunity.
Working from home also creates the opportunity to not have to be at home. You can work from your couch…or you could work from a beach in Bali – which would you choose? All the people who dream of traveling but don’t have the time because of work or the money without work – this is the opportunity. Digital nomadism is already a growing trend, so the idea is in everyone’s heads – we’re going to see a huge increase in the numbers, starting around the end of 2020 to mid 2021, in my estimation – allowing for companies to form policies, and the fear of travel to dissipate.
Better conditions for employees
We’ve all heard of the employee strikes various companies have had to deal with. For years, retail and food industry workers have been told they don’t deserve a living wage, and that their work isn’t particularly important, and now they are on the frontlines, they are considered essential workers! And it’s absolutely true, because the grocery stores need to be restocked, warehouses need someone to pack boxes and load the trucks, and someone had to cook your take-away order.
Additionally, there’s likely to be a period where people are sensitive to their health, questioning every cough or fever as they wonder if the pandemic has returned for round two. In response, people are going to demand better treatment from employers. They’re going to seek out positions where they make enough money to build savings in case of another lockdown, they’re going to seek jobs that don’t force them to come in or punish them for calling out when they’re sick.
We’ve already seen a shift with the millennial generation and Gen Z, as far as their preference to work for socially responsible companies, and I expect that’s going to escalate – particularly since the pandemic’s large effect on the boomer generation has, unfortunately, opened up some jobs.
If you already run a company, re-evaluate how you treat your employees. Are you making sure they feel valued? Are they paid well, and compensated in other ways? If not, you need to make some adjustments to retain your top talent before they leave for greener pastures – I promise it will be worth it.
New Business Opportunities
During the virus, we’ve seen people do their grocery shopping online for the first time. We’ve seen Zoom and other online video conferencing services become more popular. Video streaming is at an all-time high. Countries that never jumped on board the technological train have begun to embrace the convenience.
On top of that, big companies were caught off guard. Hotels almost universally shut down. Cruise companies and airlines are in trouble. Amazon got overwhelmed with orders and then employees went on strike – and the same happened at Instacart, Ubereats, and a number of other food delivery services.
Right now, the time is ripe to start a business and cut into established markets or get in at the ground floor of a burgeoning industry. Businesses offering convenience are going to become the gold standard, so starting your own delivery service right now would be smart – if you treat your employees well, so that they don’t strike.
Delivery services can also offer to deliver not just restaurant food, but also bottles from the liquor store, items from the gas station, and even pick up pet food from the veterinarian’s office or prescriptions from the pharmacy. That kind of all-encompassing personal concierge service will go a long way towards making people’s lives significantly easier, which will earn their loyalty and is a solid business model that could survive another pandemic
If you’re tech-savvy, now is the time to launch that app or website you’ve been dreaming of, particularly if it aids communication. Even as the threat of coronavirus passes, people who have only recently discovered the ease of online chatting will continue to do so – and the quality of Zoom has greatly upped expectations from laggy and fuzzy Skype.
One area I’m excited to see is real estate. As I said above, I predict a massive increase in digital nomadism, which means that all of those nomads will want a place to stay. Landlords with rental properties in interesting (not touristy, necessarily) areas are likely to see an uptick in interest, particularly for longer periods of time – digital nomads commonly rent for a few months rather than a few weeks. Added onto that, anyone who can bring conveniences of home to those areas is likely to build a profitable business.
You’ll notice most of the business opportunities predicted are virtual. There are options for brick-and-mortar companies, because people will always want to gather, to go out and have fun, to shop and touch things in person. The caveat post-corona, however, will be two-fold. One, overcrowding in a venue is a risk factor for another pandemic occurring, so people will be less inclined to attend. Restaurants and bars should consider making their spaces open and reducing the number of guests at a time, as well as offering extended take-away and delivery options. Two, as far as special events, I think we’ll see some prices drop. When people get a peek at Jennifer Hudson singing at home – for free – they are going to be less inclined to shell out five hundred dollars for seats yards away from the stage where you can’t even make out facial expressions – particularly since you’ll be crowded with other people! Smaller venues and lawn concerts may be more popular, instead, as they feel more intimate and generally cost less.
More crossover in business
Right now, we’ve already seen top restaurant chefs around the world, with the dining rooms closed temporarily, take to IGTV, Youtube, or Facebook Live with cooking classes. This is an area that can and should be expanded on – continue the virtual cooking classes and sell (even ship!) recipe kits a la Blue Apron to pair with the videos. People will love feeling like they are eating Emeril’s gumbo, with ingredients from the same suppliers his restaurants use.
This trend is gong to continue building in other businesses, where their offered services go beyond the traditional and expected. It’s an excellent way for all the owners who nearly lost their business in this go-round to have a fighting chance to survive if another pandemic sweeps the planet.
Have you checked your business for ways to adapt to life post-coronavirus? Or are you planning on becoming an entrepreneur now to take advantage of the new opportunities that are arising?