4 Trends That Are Shaping the Future of Work

In the past few months, remote teams and virtual meetings have taken center stage as businesses determine a better way to work through the crisis and beyond.

The way we work has shifted quicker than anyone could have imagined. If you’re reading this from your home office, taking a quick coffee break from the seemingly constant stream of Zoom calls, then you’re already seeing a glimpse of the future of work.

Before COVID-19 spread globally, the workforce had already begun to make a gradual shift in how we work, but the global health crisis has greatly accelerated this change. In the past few months, remote teams and virtual meetings have taken center stage as businesses determine a better way to work through the crisis and beyond. ADVERTISING

So, what is the driving force behind the future of work? Before COVID-19, a transformation had already begun to steer businesses toward a digital approach. The pandemic has expedited this change, forcing businesses to find efficient ways to connect outside of the office, and most of these changes are here to stay. Within the next few years, much of the workforce will likely experience significant shifts, mainly driven by a few prominent current trends.

Here are four significant ones to keep a close eye on.

1. Going remote. 

In our post-COVID world, remote working seems to be the norm for many businesses across the world, but it will likely stay that way beyond present times. As useful and collaborative as physical offices can prove to be, businesses are discovering that a remote workforce can perform just as well outside of the four walls they’re traditionally used to. 

Employees enjoy the ability to choose where they work—83 percent of employees, remote or on-site, say that a remote work opportunity would make them feel happier at their job. If you need more evidence as to how remote is beneficial, employee happiness benefits productivity as well; a recent study found that workers are 13 percent more productive when happy in their work environment

As collaborative technology continues to advance, it will become even easier to connect to work from almost anywhere in the world. With the help of video conferencing such as Zoom becoming commonplace, employees will be much more likely to choose a remote workstyle over an office set up in the future, whenever possible. 

Related: 4 Essential Traits for Great Remote Workers

2. The digital transformation.

It’s no secret that technology plays a large role in the way we work, but its role will likely become even more important in the future of work as it continues to evolve. “The digital transformation” is here, and many businesses are working to develop ways to convert their workforce to a digital mindset. But don’t panic just yet—the digital transformation is not about replacing employees with technology, but rather digitalizing the processes of how the workforce functions. 

The past has taught us that technology has an extraordinary capability to redefine efficiency, such as how switching from computers to laptops made it possible for employees to take their work anywhere. The current digital transformation is centered around solving problems for teams and businesses at an increasingly accelerated pace. Technologies such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Drive continue to push the limits of streamlining communication to decrease the friction that happens in the workplace. As the future of work continues to evolve into a remote setting, physical means of communicating will lose popularity and be replaced with more efficient systems that connect to the cloud. 

Increasingly, companies are realizing that the “old ways” of how employees work are not as effective as they could be. The adoption of collaborative technology in the workplace will continue to construct the future of work, encouraging more businesses to trial better ways of connecting internally and lay the groundwork for an enhanced telecommuting experience.  

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3. Millennial takeover. 

They’re tech-savvy and ready to work in a new way. They’re the Millenials, and the future of work is already heavily influenced by their transition into the workforce. Though there are a variety of opinions on this generation, there’s no doubt that Millennials are already changing the tides of work. As the “Boomer” generation begins to phase out of the workforce, Millenials are beginning to fill the leadership positions of former executives. This passing of the torch will bring on new styles of leadership that emphasize innovation and value learning over perfection. 

Millennials grew up in a time where technology was evolving fast and will bring this trend with them, propelling the digital transformation’s role in the future of work even further. They understand the importance of streamlining processes for their teams and the impact technology has on increasing productivity. 

Another value Millennials hold closely: The ability to work remotely and have a flexible schedule. Millennials entered an always-on workforce, with smartphones upping work expectations. Gone are the days of logging off for the night – technology has made workers accessible anywhere, anytime. This has made it so working at convenient hours that balance personal life is the millennial gold standard. As technology continues to engulf every aspect of our lives, Millennials are pushing for a work-life balance that allows for time to unplug and recharge. Flexible working may seem like a temporary situation, but as Millennials begin to take over the workforce, it is bound to become the trademark of the future of work. 

Related: The Millennial Takeover: How the Generation is Shaking up the Workplace

4. The need for a scalable workforce.

As the business landscape continues to change, the size of a business’s workforce will need to adjust as well. A scalable staff allows for flexibility to adjust as needed, accommodating changes in the industry and financial circumstances that businesses will face in the future. 

Hiring a full-time employee is no longer an easy process; benefits, 401Ks, and salaries are extra expenses. The average cost per hire is estimated at $4,000 due to administrative tasks, paperwork, and possible turnover—all expenses that can be easily solved by hiring external talent. The COVID-19 pandemic has proven that a flexible workforce is a reality businesses must face to survive in a rapidly evolving market—and they’ll need the right resources to do so. 

Fortunately, there are a variety of companies that offer flexible talent solutions, on-demand, and take care of the entire process for you (read: no more dealing with the details!). Some services to check out include Assemble, Upwork, and Fiverr; all of which offer expert work that you can easily hire to meet your short-term or recurring talent needs and help you better prepare for the future of work.

Credit: Alex Sixt, an Entrepreneur NEXT

Working from home during COVID-19: What do employees really want?

Since the COVID-19 pandemic began, there has been lots of talk about how people have reacted to being forced to work from home.

But there hasn’t been much information on what they really think, how they’ve been affected and what will happen from here.

We studied 11,000 employees in Canadian and Australian universities through an online survey. In both countries, most universities shifted much of their work online earlier this year. These are our preliminary results about employee experiences. It’s a mixed picture, but it tells us that a lot of change is ahead and that workers should be part of the discussion about how their workplaces respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Universities are made up of a varied workforce — in addition to academic positions, there are administrative and professional roles, similar to those in other organizations in the private and public sectors. Flexible working policies exist in the university sector, but we found that academics experienced working from home differently than those in administrative and professional positions.

Working from home is more common among academics than their professional counterparts, but in general during this period, academics are typically negative about working from home, while administrative and professional employees have had more positive experiences.

A woman is silhouetted in front of a white board as she writes mathematical equations on it.
Most university workers prefer a mix of home and campus work. (Pexels)

Variations in remote work preferences

People vary a lot in how much they want to work from home, but one thing is clear — most want to do some of their paid work from home, but few want to work at home all the time.

For about a third of employees in both groups, a roughly 50/50 balance between working from the office and working from home would be ideal. Another two-fifths would like to do a majority of their work at home. Another quarter would like to do only a minority of their work from home. See below:

A histograph shows the remote work preferences of Canadian and Australian university staff
What would be your preferred arrangement after COVID-19? (CHUSS Project Data)

People in both groups want to work from home more than they did before the pandemic. But general and professional staff in both countries want to increase the amount they work from home more than academics do.

Women want a bit more time working from home than men. And Canadians want a bit more time working at home than Australians, but not by much.

Fewer interruptions

We haven’t yet identified the reasons why some people are positive about their experiences working from home and some are negative. But aside from time and travel savings, we do know that a majority of people find they are interrupted less by others at work because there are fewer people around.

Large majorities (two-thirds to three-quarters) of people in our study say the equipment at home is suitable, they receive adequate support from their university and have a space at home where they can work. For most, their homes provide a pleasant environment.

But not everyone’s happy. Isolation is a significant source of distress, and remote working makes communication more difficult. There is also no shortage of negative comments about equipment and the work set-up at home. A more widespread negative finding regarded working hours. About three-fifths have ended up working more.

A laptop is seen baby paraphernalia nearby, including a pacifier and teething ring.
Some respondents complained about longer hours and their physical set-ups at home. (Pixabay)

For academics, dissatisfaction with working arrangements during the pandemic is worse when they have less experience with online teaching. But this isn’t the only factor.

Even among those who have lots of experience with online teaching, views are evenly split on whether the new work arrangements are a positive or negative experience.

Academic employees

Academic employees end up spending more time meeting their teaching obligations, and also more time on administration or what universities call “service” — especially female academics. Many academics have less time to spend on research. Women, in particular, have less time to finish or submit research papers.

That’s consistent with suggestions from journal editors that women’s submissions to journals have dropped off since the pandemic started.

Academics tend to be concerned about how their performance appraisals will be managed. But administrative and professional employees are much less bothered by this.

Most people have fewer connections with people they work with. But there is less separation between work and home. About two-fifths feel that their work spills over more into their home life, and almost as many feel more spillover from their home life into their working day.

A few feel that these forms of interference have decreased. Nearly half of employees spend more time on domestic responsibilities. Very few spend less time.

Stress has gone up. With all the redundancies happening in universities, especially in Australia, job security has plummeted.

Pluses and minuses

Overall it’s not a simple story. There are pluses and minuses. Working from home has a lot going for it, but it’s also problematic for a lot of people. Generally speaking, there’s no consistent view about what employees want.

As it is, some of the problems aren’t just because of working from home. Online teaching, for example, is a totally different process than face-to-face teaching — it’s not just doing the same work from a different place.

A lecture hall is seen filled with students and a professor at a podium.
Online teaching is a totally different process than traditional teaching. (Pixabay)

The bottom line is that working from home is too complex for broad managerial edicts to work. Without involving employees and their representatives in decisions, managers could come up with supposed solutions that may be worse than the problems they’re trying to deal with. Some managers may have experienced this already if they imposed decisions onto their staff.

The COVID-19 crisis is transforming work and how it is done, not just in universities. If managers think that they unilaterally know how and what to do, they could turn disorder into chaos.

Credits: Misha Ketchell | The Conversation Media Group Ltd

COVID-19: Best practices for a safe work environment

How to protect yourself and others at work from COVID-19

As businesses open back up and people begin to go back to work, many states are experiencing in increase in positive cases of COVID-19. While not completely unexpected, one of the areas of concern where COVID-19 can spread easily is workplaces.

When people are in close contact with each other for a prolonged period of time – like at home or a workplace – the opportunity for COVID-19 to spread can increase. Here are seven best practices for a safe work environment.

Wash your hands often

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or at least 20 seconds, especially after you’ve been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
  • If soap and water are not available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.
  • Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.

Avoid touching your face

  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, especially with unwashed hands.
  • Your eyes, nose, and mouth are entryways for viruses into your body. If you touch an infected surface and then touch your face you could potentially become infected and get sick.

Wear a face covering

You can spread COVID-19 to others even if you don’t feel sick. Remember to cover your mouth and nose with a face covering when you’ll be around other people.

  • Everyone should wear a cloth face covering when they go out in public – including when you go to work.
  • The cloth face covering is meant to protect other people in case you are infected.
  • Don’t use a face mask meant for a healthcare worker.
  • The cloth face covering is not a substitute for social distancing so remember to continue to keep about 6 feet between yourself and others.

Cover coughs and sneezes

  • If you’re in a private setting and do not have on your cloth face covering, remember to always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, or use the inside of your elbow. 
  • Throw used tissues in the trash. 
  • Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect at work

  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
  • When bringing a laptop from home, clean and disinfect it before using. If surfaces are dirty, clean them with detergent or soap and water, and then use a household disinfectant.

Practice social distancing during meetings, conversations, and tasks

  • If you attend a meeting in person, be sure to sit six feet apart from other people.
  • If this social distancing isn’t possible, or for further protection, wear a mask.
  • If you need to work near or talk to a co-worker, stay six feet apart. If you need to be in closer contact, wear a mask.

Maintain social distance during meals and breaks

  • Before and after eating, be sure to disinfect any common eating areas and wash your hands.
  • When you are eating or drinking you need to take off your mask, so you should stay six feet apart from co-workers.
  • Best practices would be to eat outside if possible or eat your meal away from your co-workers.

It’s everyone’s responsibility to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. You can protect yourself and others by being vigilant about taking the steps that reduce exposure.

Additional Resources

Credit: Intermountain Healthcare

The 5 Company Responses to Coronavirus That Resonated the Most on LinkedIn

When you’re facing so much uncertainty, it might seem like the safest thing to do is to stay quiet. However, many companies are finding that stepping forward and talking openly with their employees and customers about their coronavirus response is a powerful way to stay connected, transparent, and supportive of each other. 

If you are wondering how you can start a conversation with your online community, we wanted to offer some help and inspiration from the companies whose coronavirus-related posts have deeply resonated. To do that, we looked at LinkedIn data and found the top 5 posts that have received the most likes, shares, comments, and clicks in March 2020.

As you’ll see, they’re about how companies are contributing to relief efforts — from adapting snorkeling masks for ventilators to creating comics for kids in Wuhan, China. 

While not all of us can help in the same ways, showcasing how we lean on our company values and support each other in times of crisis can be a powerful first step.

1. L’Oreal pivots to produce hand sanitizer in short supply

The coronavirus-related post with the most engagement comes from L’Oreal, which announced new processes to produce and freely distribute hand sanitizer to hospitals, pharmacies, care homes, and food stores.

Screenshot of post from L’Oreal’s company LinkedIn page:  For several weeks, our teams have been implementing a plan to support the fight against coronavirus. New processes are in place in our plants and across the world. Our teams are working to produce hundreds of tons of hand sanitizer that will be delivered free-of-charge to hospitals, pharmacies, care homes, and food stores. And they will keep providing as long as needed. Bravo and thank you to all our employees working day in day out in our plants. And thank you for supporting them.  [[includes photos of hand sanitizer being manufactored]]

If your company has pivoted in order to help relief efforts, don’t be shy about sharing with your community. Not only does it reflect well on your organization, but it could inspire other companies to do the same. 

2. Energy company Reliance Industries sets up one of the first COVID-19 health centers in India

Reliance Industries, an international conglomerate based in India, shared how it partnered with local authorities to create a health center dedicated to coronavirus patients.

Screenshot of post from Reliance Industries Limited LinkedIn company page:  Reliance Industries further Steps Up its Support to India’s Fight Against Coronavirus  Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital in collaboration with Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), has set up a dedicated 100 bedded centre at Seven Hills Hospital, Mumbai for patients who test positive for COVID-19.  Sir H.N. Reliance Foundation Hospital, has also offered to set up special medical facilities to quarantine travelers from notified countries and suspected cases identified through contact tracing. This will quickly augment additional facilities for isolation and treatment of infected patients.  #CoronaHaregaIndiaJeetega  [[includes photos of hospital beds in the center the company created]]

Public and private partnerships can be absolutely crucial at a time like this. Reaching out to see how you can help local authorities or essential businesses could make a huge difference.

3. Sporting goods retailer Decathlon addresses how its snorkeling masks are being adapted for makeshift ventilators 

Amid shortages of ventilators in Italy, some quick-thinking engineers have figured out how snorkeling masks may be used to create makeshift ventilators that could save lives

This post from the maker of the mask, French sporting goods retailer Decathlon, does warn that the masks aren’t meant for medical use. But the message, translated into English here, goes on to say the company is working closely with researchers to see if and how the masks could be safely adapted as ventilators.

Screenshot of post from Decathlon France’s LinkedIn company page:  PRÉCISIONS SUR L'UTILISATION DU MASQUE EASYBREATH  Le masque Easybreath, rendu visible par nombre d'internautes ces derniers jours et présenté comme un éventuel masque de protection au Coronavirus, n'a pas été conçu pour cet usage. Son utilisation initiale demeurant la pratique du snorkeling, nous recommandons donc de ne pas modifier le masque par soi même ; cela pourrait impacter son fonctionnement, notamment concernant les flux d'air.  Néanmoins, en parallèle et compte tenu du contexte inédit que nous vivons, les équipes Decathlon, en solidarité et en responsabilité, accompagnent techniquement certains centres de recherche en France, comme à l'étranger, dans le but de réaliser des tests et ainsi voir si le produit peut - ou non - être adapté, notamment en partageant le plan 3D du masque Easybreath.  Nous vous tiendrons informés des potentielles évolutions, Prenez soin de vous  [[includes photos of masks]]

It’s critical to put information about safety first, as Decathlon does here. After doing so, you can go on to say what your company is doing to help. By both warning consumers and committing to help relief efforts, the company shows it prioritizes what really matters. 

4. LEGO employee quarantined in Wuhan creates comics for kids about not being afraid 

In another post highlighting the handiwork of an employeeLEGO shares how an artist got stuck in Wuhan, China, while visiting family — and channeled that frustration to find a creative way to help. In amplifying the employee’s story, LEGO also shows how the company values creativity, adaptability, and passion.

Screenshot of post from The Lego Group’s LinkedIn company page:  Our colleague, Xin Chen, has been stuck in Wuhan since she visited her family for Chinese New Year celebrations. She felt frustrated that she couldn’t do anything to prevent people from getting infected, so she decided to create a comic to teach kids about COVID-19 and encourage them not to be afraid.  #behindthebricks #ourlegofamily  [[includes photos of the comic featuring LEGO figurines]]

Even in times of hardship — perhaps especially in times of hardship — it’s important to let your employees’ creativity shine. Even if you’re not in an “essential business,” your company can still find creative ways to give back

5. GE Healthcare engineer makes a treacherous trip to help make ventilators 

This post from GE Healthcare celebrates the heroic efforts of one of their employees who drove through a snowstorm to reach a plant producing ventilators. From the humanitarian work of the engineer going the extra mile to the cute dog picture, the message feels both inspirational and authentic.

Screenshot of post from GE Healthcare’s LinkedIn company page:  This is Tyler, GE Healthcare engineer and a guru in the valves that are used to make ventilators. When he heard about the shortage, he and his wife packed their dog into the car and drove from Salt Lake City back to the plant in Madison, WI in one day — through an earthquake aftermath and a snowstorm — to help lend Tyler's skills. He arrived safely at the plant and is now hard at work, helping to make ventilators to support clinicians in the fight against #COVID19.  [[includes photos of Tyler working, his car parked in the snow, and a photo of he, his wife, and their dog]]

It goes to show that the best employer branding comes from authentic stories. Highlight how your employees are working to help in this time of need. 

Final thoughts

These examples set a high bar, and not every company can set up a health center or help make ventilators. But even small gestures can make a difference, and companies shouldn’t hesitate to share how they’re supporting their employees and helping essential workers during these difficult times.

Methodology

Analysis examined company posts on LinkedIn matching a series of keywords related to coronavirus in English and other languages. Engagement is measured as a combination of likes, comments, clicks, and shares. The posts highlighted here were all among the top ten posts receiving the most engagement as of March 31. Posts from LinkedIn and posts promoting other external assets were filtered out. 

* Image credit The LEGO Group

Credit: Gregory Lewis

Adapt and survive: How economies and businesses are changing to combat COVID-19

Leaving aside the horrendous loss of human life, the COVID-19 crisis is an economic disaster on an unprecedented scale. The banking crisis of just over a decade ago was expected to be a once-in-a-lifetime event, but many predictions now expect its effects to be dwarfed by the abrupt coronavirus-caused cessation of much global business activity. 

On 15 April, International Monetary Fund managing director Kristalina Georgieva told a meeting of G20 financial ministers and central bank governors that more than 100 countries had asked the fund for emergency assistance. Saying “everything is on the table in terms of measures we can take,” she encouraged central banks to “spend as much as you can – but keep the receipts: we don’t want accountability and transparency to take a back seat in this crisis.”

In this world turned upside down, even fiscally conservative governments are cheque-writing their way into planned-economy territory, some bouncing straight out of a decade of belt-tightening corrective austerity with measure even their most radical opponents could never have envisaged.

A man sleeps in an empty street during the coronavirus outbreak in Barcelona, Spain, April 2020. /Emilio Morenatti/AP PhotoYou’ve got to bear in mind just how big a manufacturer and a consumer China is. Raw materials being imported to China has gone through the floor and the finished goods aren’t coming out –  Guy Platten, secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping

The financial measures are intended to jumpstart economies that have all but stalled: the coronavirus paralyzed the corpus of globalization. The original virus epicenter Wuhan is in the industrial heartland of China, and the country’s decision to thoroughly isolate the city closed down an important part of the world’s second largest economy. (It’s instructive to note that at the time of the SARS outbreak in 2002-2004 China represented around 4 percent of world GDP; by 2017 this had risen above 15 percent.)

As early as February, warning bells were ringing for Guy Platten, the secretary-general of the International Chamber of Shipping. With China accounting for around 40 percent of global seaborne trade, Platten told CGTN that the country’s lockdown was having a terrible effect on shipping – and therefore manufacturing and supply.

“You’ve got to bear in mind just how big a manufacturer and a consumer China is,” said Platten. “Raw materials being imported to China has gone through the floor – and then, of course, the factories aren’t working at the capacity they once were, so the finished goods aren’t coming out.”

READ MORE COVID-19 blows shipping business off course01:31

Commercial globalization and an efficient modern transport system soon helped the virus spread rampantly around the industrialized world. But as first the case numbers, then the death tolls, started to spike upwards, many authorities took the decision to lock down: by the turn of April a fifth of the world’s population was under some form of limitation.

Locking down was both entirely understandable and predictably disastrous for the economy. As shops and restaurants closed, so did the factories that supplied them, and the supply chains between the two. Along with manufacturing, logistics and retail, the service industry was similarly silenced. An economy can survive with 10 percent of the population in isolation. It can’t survive when 50 percent of the population is in isolation –  Paul Romer, former World Bank chief economist

Some hoped that business could move online, but soon the public was checking its pockets and bank balance as companies without much in the way of cash reserves started to dispense with employees. Many vocabularies were swollen by a new word: furlough. Again, to pay their employees, companies had to go cap in hand to governments. 

In mid-March, the UK’s Rishi Sunak was one of several finance ministers announcing funds to help pay furloughed workers. /Matt Dunham/AP

Facing a terrible dilemma

In turn, the governments had to weigh up a terrible dilemma. With the workforce at a standstill, they had little choice but to ramp up their welfare burden, one that would be exacerbated by a loss of revenue from taxes on income and expenditure. 

Some free-market voices suggested it would be better to risk a higher death toll than to foot such a huge bill, but many governments – dealing with a pandemic that has neither cure nor vaccine and which tends to prey on the sickest and most vulnerable members of society – took the very difficult decision of sacrificing the economy for the health of their people. 

Paul Romer, the former World Bank chief economist, has suggested that “An economy can survive with 10 percent of the population in isolation. It can’t survive when 50 percent of the population is in isolation.”We’ve never seen figures like this in living memory, and the bad news is it comes on top of probably 30 to 40 million jobs already lost in the first quarter of the year –  Guy Ryder, director-general of the UN agency International Labour Organization

Starved of input, economies are shrinking at an alarming rate. The International Labour Organization (ILO), a United Nations agency, predicts the equivalent of 195 million job losses due to COVID-19. “It is definitely the most severe employment crisis any one of us has seen,” director-general Guy Ryder told CGTN. “The question is, how long is this going to last?

“It’s a very bad hit and the bad news is it comes on top of probably 30 to 40 million jobs already lost in the first quarter of the year. We’ve never seen figures like this in living memory.”

READ MORE: UN labor agency predicts loss of 195 million jobs due to COVID-1901:48

Ryder is far from a lone voice of despair. In the UK, the independent Office for Budget Responsibility predicted the country’s economy could shrink by 35 percent in Q2, while the IMF chief economist Gita Gopinath is warning the world could suffer its steepest downturn since the Great Depression. 

READ MORE: 2020 will be economy’s worst year since Great Depression, says IMF04:42In future as an employer you will not be able to say ‘No, this is not possible.’ People now think of alternative kinds of delivery – everything is possible now. Not everything will survive but we all have to experiment –  Josephine Hofmann, Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering

The evolution of the economy

It’s 160 years since Charles Darwin noted the importance of adaptation in evolution, and now businesses are having to change to survive. 

In Brussels, butchers and bakers who previously relied on walk-in trade are having to join forces to provide online ordering and home delivery. It’s not necessarily a new idea but it is one that small firms are having to embrace or risk bankruptcy. 

READ MORE Small businesses turn to home delivery during lockdown02:19

Such experimentation is vital and urgent, and could change business models forever. “I think in the future as an employer you will not be able to say ‘No, this is not possible’,” said Josephine Hofmann, a doctor from the Fraunhofer Institute for Industrial Engineering. 

“People now think of alternative kinds of delivery, of taking online courses, of studying online, yoga courses – everything is possible now,” Hofmann added. “Not everything will survive because the business models left behind aren’t that viable but we all have to experiment.”

The option of going online doesn’t extend to every industry. Requiring travel, social interaction and disposable income, tourism is effectively banned, a problem dramatically affecting Mediterranean economies which rely heavily on the industry. More than 15 percent of Spain’s GDP comes from the sector.

But more than ever, business becomes about adapting to survive. Those who evolve their output best survive with either an enhanced bank account (unlikely in such testing times) or at least an improved public image.

READ MORE The 3D-printed masks helping Italy’s hardest-hit hospitalsI’m firmly convinced that we need our own production in this country, which we must get under way for this period. There are a whole range of manufacturers who are prepared to do so and we will make this possible –  German finance minister Olaf Scholz02:25

Wartime spirit

An almost wartime attitude to redeploying resources is essential. For some, this transition is relatively easy. Beiersdorf, which makes Nivea skincare products, has made 500 tons of medical-grade disinfectants in its German and Spanish plants. 

German clothing manufacturer Trimega switched to making reusable cotton and polyester nose and mouth coverings for non-medical face masks, with support from the finance ministry.

“I am firmly convinced that we need our own production in this country, which we must get under way for this period,” said finance minister Olaf Scholz. “There are a whole range of manufacturers who are prepared to do so and we will make this possible.”

READ MORE Germany urges clothing companies to make millions of reusable masks01:20

It’s not just in Germany that this adaptation has occurred. Independent British brewer BrewDog now produces hand sanitizers instead of beer in its Aberdeenshire distillery, giving them away free for those who need it.

Others require some lateral thinking. A consortium of firms including Rolls-Royce, Airbus, BAE Systems, Dyson and even a handful of Formula 1 teams have come together to make 15,000 new ventilators.

And it isn’t just multi-national companies. Family-run, high-end hi-fi firm VPI has ceased production on its entire turntable production line in the U.S. to turn vinyl cleaning fluid into hand sanitizer and, most ingeniously, plastic covers for its brochures and turntable belts into face shields with headbands. They’re distributing both to hospitals in the New Jersey area.

LVMH, fashion house Louis Vuitton’s parent company, has said it will repurpose French perfume factories to make hand sanitizer. Givenchy and Christian Dior have followed suit.

READ MORE French hospital’s makeshift medical 3D printing factory01:43

Kering, the parent company of fashion houses Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Balenciaga, soon shifted factory production in France to surgical facemasks. So did Spanish fashion retailer Zara.

Collaboration and adaptation

Cross-border collaborative thinking is vital. In March, Italian engineers posted a design online to retrofit cheap snorkeling masks from sportswear retailer Decathlon, which cover the whole face, with military-grade filters so they could be used as respirators or for the protection of frontline medical workers. University projects in Belgium and the Czech Republic have taken up the challenge of providing and distributing PPE.

Governments must also adapt. In the UK, the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs and the Department of Health and Social Care were quick to join forces and turn three major animal testing laboratories into coronavirus units, yet Britain still significantly trails its European neighbors in testing. Adapting can only go so far if policy doesn’t match the good intentions.

Yet, even the entertainment industry – shorn of concerts, plays or films – has adapted. Hotels have remained open for frontline medical workers, while Vans for Bands have placed their luxury tour buses at four hospitals in the United Kingdom so health professionals can sleep onsite without having to go home after 12-hour shifts.

Foster a sense of pride and community, give people the autonomy to believe in something and fight for it. As John F Kennedy once said, ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.

Thankfully, thousands of business have done just that.

Credits: Andy Murray, Gary Parkinson | CGTN

Combating COVID-19: How to mobilize your business online

The impact of COVID-19 has been sudden, severe, and looks set to last. The battle to contain and ultimately overcome the pandemic will be long and challenging; many people are already suffering catastrophic personal loss, and the global consensus is that the situation will continue to get worse before it gets better.

But it isn’t the only the human cost of the global pandemic that is having a generational impact on society. The economic impact is also on a scale that has never been seen or even contemplated previously; stay at home orders and a surge in unemployment are just two factors that have contributed to a stagnation of a sizeable percentage of the economy, and this has been felt severely by the small-to-medium sized business (SMB) community.

For SMBs that rely on a regular influx of customers and face-to-face sales to sustain their businesses, social distancing regulations are particularly crippling. Retail stores and hospitality businesses such as bars and restaurants simply cannot cover the costs of their overhead during the pandemic without continuing to make sales.

It is therefore essential for SMBs to be able to pivot their model in order to adjust to the new reality of their business environment. And if, as many experts expect, the length of crisis stretches from weeks to months, it is even more critical that this is done successfully and efficiently.

So, what are some of the tactics that businesses can employ to mitigate some of the impact of COVID-19?

Pivoting from in-store to online

One obvious major consequence of social distancing due to COVID-19 is the shift from in-person to online shopping. This includes sectors such as the restaurant industry; in many cases the regulations for registering takeaway and delivery food services have been relaxed to enable restaurants to offer this service in lieu of operating a dining room. In the US for example, restaurants and quick serve restaurants have been classified as essential businesses, meaning that they are eligible to stay open regardless of the social distancing regulations.

For SMBs that can offer products or services online but don’t have a digital sales presence currently, launching a working online shopping site quickly and securely is perhaps the most direct way to pivot the business to adapt to the current conditions. By enabling customers to make purchases online businesses can counteract many of issues created by social distancing measures.

Of course, in many ways this is easier said than done. Building a website and developing an online presence through digital marketing and other endeavours takes some time. So does informing your current customer base that they can now make purchases from you digitally. But speed is of the essence. Every day that a business is not making sales is a day closer to potentially going out of business altogether, so launching an online business in any form as quickly as possible has to be the right strategy for the current climate.

Get online fast

The checkout is the lifeblood of any online business; merchants must be able to accept online payments to be successful. And they must be able to do so securely in order to protect them and their customers from being victims of fraud, and in a simple and user-friendly manner. And while this may seem a daunting prospect for retail businesses, by working with your payments services provider to take the checkout online businesses might be surprised at how rapid and seamless moving to digital payment acceptance can be.

A business that has previously only had a physical presence should be able to set up their online website and accept online payments within 48 hours. Here are two ways this can be accomplished.

1. Plug in a shopping cart solution

One option for merchants with an online presence but that doesn’t currently accept payments online is to plug in a shopping cart solution. Merchants are also able to accept payments from multiple alternative payments methods to credit cards such as digital wallets and can initiate more advanced payments services such as recurring payments and invoicing. For merchants that want to focus on the long-term potential of building an online presence as well as the immediate need, an online payment gateway that offers this level of flexibility for future development as well as a rapid go-to-market timeline is an ideal solution.

Of course, businesses that are moving online for the first time, and at speed, will inevitably be concerned that their checkouts are secure from fraudulent activity, and that they do not become victims to excessive chargeback fees and inventory loss due to eCommerce naivety. Unfortunately, history tells us that criminality surges during unsettling periods of history, and the COVID-19 pandemic looks to be no different.

So, merchants must partner with a gateway provider that enables businesses to monitor and evaluate transactions for fraud and restricts activity from specific IP addresses if fraud is suspected. Sensitive data must also be stored secured in a PCI DSS compliant manner, meaning that that customers are able to store card data and shipping locations for the optimum user experience but in a protected manner.

2. Making your POS terminal digital

Business that are already using a POS system, like Clover, to take payments in-store can utilize the same system to take payments online. By leveraging existing functions through the POS dashboard, a merchant can build an online presence capable of receiving payments in under 48 hours. This rapid go-to-market product is not only a speedy solution to maintaining a sales outlet during social distancing, it is also PCI compliant and secure.

Want to find out more about taking your business online efficiently and securely? Speak to our experts at Paysafe today about the most effective option to launch your online checkout within the next 48 hours.

Credits: Paysafe Insights