The New "Normal" in Business
The doors are open for businesses and you've probably already begun to notice some major changes already. Temperatures are being checked at the door by masked personnel who might be wearing a bandana you saw in an old western your parents made you watch. Many businesses have required you to cover up half of your face but it won't be because they think you have bad breath. If the doors are closed when you arrive, it's probably because you need an appointment to get inside. To even get in the door, you may be asked if you have had a fever, cough, or upper respiratory issues. Whew! Can I shop now or go to work you may ask? Well, that depends on what phase your state is in.
EVERYTHING IS CHANGING
So what does this mean for the future of commerce? How long do we abide by certain measures and will we ever feel safe enough to work in a fully staffed office? Don't panic just yet because the answers are not as scary as you may have led yourself to believe.
Remember when digital platforms emerged around the same time we began to become environmentally conscious? Let me explain. We were tired of wasting paper and people demanded to have their information immediately versus waiting for their Sunday dose of what happened during the week. Newspapers were in a panic, layoffs were in great numbers (my husband being one of those people) and ironically the newspaper on your front porch was destined to be eliminated. I realize that the newspaper being eradicated from your doorstep is nothing compared to a pandemic emerging but you get the picture. The change was happening!
With new technology, news applications, and even paid subscriptions emerged from the rubble and we all began to adapt. The same is happening here and the results will be similar...we will overcome. The temporary measures that are likely to go will eventually be:
3.The temperature checks at the door.
LET THE FUTURE BEGIN
However, as we begin to overcome, we are likely to see some things stay the same or move towards a more progressive approach. How can things be progressive you ask? Well, let's take a look.
Now that employees have seen that workers are just as capable of completing their tasks at home as they are in the office, remote workers will be on the rise. This can save on much-needed office space, increase productivity, and enable managers to be able to manage without constantly micromanaging. Even better will be when Susan McFluspreader can actually stay home without missing work, and won't be at work with 101 fever taking out the whole office. Hooray for productivity!
HI GENE? OH HYGIENE!
People will be more conscientious about their hygiene in the workplace. Hooray! Little did we realize how much we touch grimey surfaces, touch our faces, and even spread our germs to multiple surfaces. While some germs are ok and a healthy immunity needs to be built, I don't feel too happy when Susan McFluspreader wiped her nose, made copies and faxed her paperwork, but didn't go wash her hands before it. If your copy machine is sticky, Susan has struck again. Electronic key cards for doors and entryways can also enable us to open doors without touching the same surface over and over again. Many hospitals already have this measure in place but it's been said that offices are on the path to making this happen as well.
WHY YOUR TEACHER DRINKS
Another progressive move was all of us taking a huge swan dive into online learning. With the pandemic sneaking up on us so quickly, teachers were in so many meetings, their heads began to spin and parents heard the thing that most of us dread hearing, "HERE, you take your kids and teach them." For some of us it was a welcome time of joy having our kids home with us for quality time, but after weeks of checking grades, trying to remember 5th-grade math, and hearing "Can I have a snack?" 50 times a day, some parents TRULY began to appreciate our educators.
Although many college students have already adapted to the online learning process, it hadn't been used on such a large scale, so quickly, and with all grade levels. Some schools didn't even have the equipment. If this doesn't send up a big red flag to PLEASE fund our education system, then I don't know what will. I personally feel like I need to send cases of wine to each of my teenager's teachers with a warm note of apology and maybe a gift card for a spa day.
THE ONLINE DEADLINE
For businesses, we already knew that taking your business online is one way to survive when the customers CAN'T come to YOU! We always preach about websites being available even if they are a basic construct saying who you are and what you do. You don't have to have a massive budget or the website that rivals every competitor you have, but have SOMETHING and at least let it be done well.
Businesses who were set up with email programs were able to keep their customers posted on specials, closings, current business hours, and prepped their loyal fans for their reopening by encouraging bookings, appointments, and celebratory savings. Some places were even able to sell products to help make ends meet, set up online to-go menus, and offer gift cards to be able to be redeemed upon the opening of its doors.
Those who went that extra social media mile definitely fared better than some of their competitors. With most people stuck at home, future customers were busy perusing Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat to find a sense of relief. To those that the emails missed, social media kept them updated, buying, and prepared for what was to come. Business owners were able to share videos, their hardships, and even provide words of encouragement that kept their loyal viewers cheering them on! For the future, expect to see MORE social media, websites, and online videos for even the smallest of business owners.
ZOOMING RIGHT ALONG
With viewers at home and business owners having their doors nearly bolted shut, networking via Zoom became a new doorway to meet people that we never would have thought to network with before. Who knew you could network safely at home with a margarita in your hand and 15 little screens that put the Brady Bunch introduction to shame. Although someone should have told Marsha Marsha Marsha to put her phone away instead of taking it to the bathroom with her. Marsha also didn't know she wasn't muted.
For the future, we expect to see people getting more and more comfortable being on camera. Imagine expanding your business from your local town to a client in a whole new continent via Google Meet or even meeting the busiest of clients in a whole new time zone. The doors are opened to grow as big as you want with anyone who can use a video platform. Pressing even the most hesitant users into chatting via video can open the door to collaborations, meetings of the mind in your own private space, and has even opened up Telemedicine to gain a whole new level of respect for our health care workers.
THAT'S A WRAP
So there you have it. Change is not always bad as long as we are making progress. From new ways to going back to work, from using apps as well as innovation to convey your message to customers, a smooth transition can pave the way to brighter days. Sometimes you just have to roll with it, take the good with the bad, and make way for a new normal!