Flexibility and adaptability.
Two words that resonated with employers as the pandemic erupted. As executive orders were issued, organizations had to adapt their processes quickly to survive. Business plans were reimagined, technology was adopted overnight, and for many, the decision-making process switched to warp speed.
The pandemic affected business in many ways, and not all of it was bad.
According to Gartner: “There has been a reset of the workforce and work itself, a reset of the employer/employee relationship and a reset of the business ecosystem. For most, the business impact of the pandemic has been negative; for some, positive.”
While it’s difficult to conceive of anything positive coming out of the pandemic, the innovative ways businesses responded to the challenges facing them was nothing short of extraordinary.
Perhaps the most significant positive outcome is more efficient processes. Here we explore two factors that contributed to this phenomenon.
Accelerated adoption of technology
If you are surprised by how fast video conferencing, project management platforms, and cloud file sharing became second nature, you are not alone. A McKinsey Global Survey of executives found that responses to the pandemic sped the adoption of digital technologies by several years, much more quickly than was thought possible.
When it came to “advanced technologies in business decision-making,” respondents said their companies moved 25 times more quickly than they thought possible—635 days (expected) vs. 25 days (actual). The same is true of the use of advanced technologies in operations. Respondents said their companies also moved 25 times more quickly—672 days (expected) vs. 26 days (actual).
And most impressive but not surprising, when it came to technology to support remote working, respondents said their companies moved 40 times more quickly—454 days (expected) vs. 10 days (actual).
COVID removed barriers when it came to implementing technologies. In the new workplace, these tools became a necessity vs. a luxury.
The rise in teleconferencing
Once meetings were switched to virtual, workers became liberated from the constraints of time and space.
Business could be conducted at any time from anywhere without travel, much planning, and formal attire (at least from the camera’s eye down). Executives could strategize at a moment’s notice, recruiters could interview more candidates, and salespeople could schedule more appointments.
Prior to COVID, many companies were already utilizing video conferencing platforms, but not to the extent it is used today. In fact, during the week of March 14-21, 2020, mobile app downloads were up 90% from the weekly average of business app downloads in 2019.
Members of the Balance Point Sales Team, like HCM Consultant Bruno DeMayo, initially struggled with the loss of face-to-face interactions: “How am I supposed to perform in an environment where I can’t see people’s faces—how can I get them to trust me?”
He soon discovered how much time he got back in his day without traveling to see prospects and partners, and how positive the “meetings” could be.
“It’s a more intimate experience. My CPA partners see me in the comfort of my home, they see me as a real person, and that builds trust.”
For many organizations, the pandemic was the impetus needed to progress forward and streamline their processes, and now there is no turning back. Now, as the reality of our new normal sets in, businesses need to reflect on the changes that were made on the fly and evaluate which are worthy of investing in for the future.