Shuttered storefronts, social distancing, and augmented unemployment checks will not necessarily be the long-term effects of COVID-19. But the pandemic has inextricably changed the way we interact and do business.
As the country makes the methodical transition to the new normal, education, remote workforces, and hiring talent could look quite different than the pre-coronavirus landscape. Industry leaders would be wise to promptly engage in post-pandemic strategic planning to get ahead of the brave new world.
Although CEOs and entrepreneurs had mixed feelings about work-from-home policies, remote productivity had been trending for more than a decade. Media resources such as Forbes were penning articles about location flexibility and Millennials placing a high value on work-from-anywhere positions long before COVID-19 upended the economy. In a piece called Flexible Working: The Way Of The Future, Forbes contributor Joy Burnford highlighted reasons why employees and employers were embracing remote positions in May of 2019.
The business disruption caused by the contagion forced companies to increase Cloud-based infrastructure and cybersecurity to support work-from-home productivity. Now, upwards of 74 percent of CFOs polled in a Gartner study indicate they plan to maintain remote infrastructure and cut real estate and other brick-and-mortar facility expenses. It appears the future has been written, and high-level managed IT consultations are necessities.
Business leaders would be wise to take a long and thoughtful look at changes to the education system. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott recently declared that public schools would not reopen this calendar year. Remote learning will continue until summer break, and an uptick in coronavirus cases could prompt a return to digital homeschooling come fall. That means at least one parent — potentially your employee — will need to stay home with school-aged children.
This scenario points to a logical need for decision-makers to maintain existing remote infrastructure as a part of business continuity planning. COVID-19, as well as unforeseen disruptions, have accelerated Cloud-based business networks as a new necessity.
Businesses that fail to integrate remote connectivity into their scenario planning could be cut off from their own valued employees, as well as talented people outside reasonable commuter distances. A recent Gartner HR survey indicates that upwards of 86 percent of organizations have engaged in virtual interviews and hiring practices during the pandemic.
“Recruiting leaders are caught between the sourcing and hiring plans that were initiated before the COVID-19 outbreak and the rise in uncertainty and social and economic instability,” Gartner HR practice vice president Lauren Smith reportedly said. “While most organizations are currently conducting interviews remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual interviewing may become the new standard for recruiting leaders and candidates long after social distancing guidelines are lifted.”
Remote capabilities such as task collaboration and virtual meetings platforms are now fully integrated aspects of the business landscape. Organizations that leveraged IT infrastructure to go remote as a stop-gap measure may want to reconsider digital strategies as a permanent solution. It may be in your best interest to consider strategic IT and cybersecurity planning today because the future has already arrived.