When Australia emerges from the other side of the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be a different place. Even though Australia has been relatively lucky and fared better so far than many other countries, there are still many things that will never be the same again.
The COVID-19 pandemic occurred in a time of already changing realities around working life. People’s expectations and priorities were already shifting towards spending less time in the office and commuting in favour of more flexible working lives. Companies were also looking into the utilisation of new technologies to make employment more efficient and fulfilling.
But these slow evolutions quickly turned to drastic changes. And many of these changes may linger well past the end of the pandemic to have permanently reshaped our lives.
But how different will this post-COVID world be? Will we really all be permanently working from home? Are offices a thing of the past?
Let’s take a closer look at what the working world will be like in the near future.
Rather than being seen as a single continuous path, the road to recovery can best be thought of in three stages: reaction, recovery, and the new reality.
The pandemic forced employees and business leaders alike to immediately react. Both professional and personal lives saw massive disruption and organisations were forced to focus on limiting damage to the livelihoods of their staff and the long term viability of their business.
Managers had to put in place almost overnight actions that existing trends may have otherwise taken a decade to play out. People that might have soon been working from home one day a week suddenly found themselves working from home five days a week. And their colleagues and bosses were too.
The recovery can really begin once companies start to feel more resilient and as government controls and guidelines are loosened in response to greater containment of the virus. Companies are more confident in taking on new staff and making larger investments as sentiment improves.
Enduring changes remain as positive behaviours trialled during the pandemic are adopted permanently. While many ideas will have been tried only to be discarded, some changes in working strategies and actions will become the new normal and a permanent part of the company culture and way of doing things.
But which of these behaviours are likely to become permanent in Australian companies?
The following five themes are likely to take front of stage as the new way of doing business post-COVID.
● New working models - the coming decade will see the continued rise of the gig worker and the large scale uptake of robotics and automation. As economic conditions force companies to focus on productivity, workforce automation and freelance/contract workers will become the norm.
● Automate or relocate - vastly more people will work remotely as commercial real estate is reduced and repurposed due to lower demand brought about by company restructuring. This will see people choosing to live in larger residential properties that contain space for a work from home office, rather than the current focus on smaller inner-city dwellings.
● Smarter supply chains - the pandemic exposed many supply chains and forced a reassessment of logistics and delivery infrastructure. Supply chains will become smarter, more local, and more agile.
● Boom in digital commerce - the pandemic accelerated the growth of online ordering and delivery. This will expand to all sectors, covering areas such as telehealth, fitness, and education.
● Resilience and business continuity - businesses were forced to acknowledge the importance of cash/liquidity in their operations when faced with a crisis. A renewed emphasis will be placed on balancing cash flow so organisations are more readily able to adapt to unplanned events or economic downturns.
There’s no doubting the major impact that COVID-19 has had on the world. It has forced a reassessment of the status quo like never before and set in motion major changes to the way businesses approach their staff and their operations. But with the right understanding of the impacts, it’s possible for business leaders to use the crisis as an opportunity to reshape their businesses for a better and more productive future.
If you’re interested in gaining a greater understanding of how the pandemic will reshape Australian business or the type of staff you will need to face the new reality post COVID-19, get in contact with FinXL.