COVID-19, more commonly known simply as the coronavirus, has left an indelible impact upon the world in multiple arenas—business, health, economy, politics, finance, and more. As businesses continue to cope with the changes necessitated by the pandemic and resulting in quarantine in many countries, adaptability becomes crucial. However, what will happen to all these elastic measures once things settle down and life gets back to a form of normalcy?
Some businesses may see the sudden upheaval to be an irritant or a temporary road block on the way back to the way things used to be. Other businesses—those more likely to succeed in the future economy—will relish the opportunity to innovate and prepare themselves for a different business landscape that thrives on practices established now, during the overwhelming influence of the coronavirus. The world will likely be a different place once things have cooled down, and businesses will need to keep this in mind if they intend to thrive.
Trust and Services
What do customers currently consider to be a “premium product”? For many, this idea might entail something foreign (think cars from international producers) or a product or service that at least has an international influence or supplier. Given the state of the world with coronavirus and the ubiquitous message of “staying contained,” consumer perception may begin to shift, and businesses need to adapt to this changing dynamic ahead of time.
Will consumers be as eager to purchase products not made locally? This might feel like a threat to safety for them, and trust—a new, much more provably credible kind—will take center stage. Businesses need to prove trust, not only in themselves, but in their suppliers, for consumers to remain engaged.
Home Sweet Home
This same idea of “the unfamiliar” or “the outside” carries over into consumer purchasing decisions. Many customers are currently home-focused; in other words, they are spending money on their homes and from their homes. This trend is unlikely to stop after the coronavirus pandemic ebbs away. With home being the ground zero of people’s life experience over an extended period, it alters the way they think and the things they prioritize—things they may have been, before this time, out of touch with.
The business that understands this new “obsession” with the home and the local climate will be the one to succeed. Local products and services will thrive, and purchases that drive at-home comfort, ease, and personal meaningfulness will see the most engagement.
Authority and Reliability
Where authority lies is going to determine how consumers elect to behave, and for that reason, this particular facet of post-COVID engagement will vary by location. In areas where governmental and authority response to COVID was strong and/or effective, expect to see a general positive outlook toward top-down control. If those in authority were perceived to have handled the crisis largely “wrong,” the inverse will be true.
Businesses need to stay in tune with this aspect of consumer thinking, as the importance of collective behavior and the overall willingness to allow powerhouse companies and authorities to tell consumers truthfully what is “good” may change. If consumers no longer trust big entities, businesses may have a harder time capturing their engagement.
The Virtual Space
As expected, the growing importance of the virtual space cannot be understated. With businesses closing their doors for health reasons and enabling employees to work from home, a growing movement toward virtual work and engagement is currently underway. And of course, this is not limited only to work; rather, businesses are also going to need to reconsider their own offerings because of people’s routines becoming more virtual-centric.
Going forward after the coronavirus pandemic and quarantine, it is likely that essentially anything that can be done virtually will be done virtually. An adaptive business should already be prepared for this, both on employment and production fronts. Are there facets of business that can be moved online or improved via virtual options? Can expenditures be curbed through a work at home program? The options are going to come down to individual situations, but this is an area of influence that companies must begin considering sooner rather than later.
Concerns regarding health, safety, and personal and communal well being are at the forefront of everyone’s minds right now, and rightly so—COVID-19 has been demonstrated to influence not just those thought to be immunocompromised, and the stakes for safety seem to be escalating nearly by the day. This health-centric focus will not likely ebb after the virus has been dealt with, and businesses would do well to remember that.
For some people, the failings of their current health situation have become apparent, and businesses on the leading edge of post-coronavirus innovation will understand the importance of providing a healthy workplace that supports employees well being thoroughly. This is an area in which businesses will want to focus on more than ever before so employees are properly taken care of.
Development Going Forward
While all businesses are different and their needs are unique, some common themes and threads are likely to arise because of the coronavirus outbreak and pandemic. Companies should spend a solid amount of time considering how the virus and resulting pandemic have affected them and may continue to affect them in the future; that being said, some features of consumer thinking and employee behavior are likely to be similar across a wide spectrum of businesses.
Going forward, companies may find themselves needing to focus more effort on the effects of a digital workspace and virtual offerings, and employees are likely to be more concerned than ever with their healthcare and safety options in and out of the workplace. This will impact their behavior, their confidence and their trust in the companies they work for, and it is easy to see that this can have profound effects on the overall success of any business.