For the next several years, the world will travel down the road to semi-normal – an economic landscape that will be forever changed by COVID-19.
This post-viral era goes by several names, such as:
- The new normal
- The “never normal”
- The next normal
The terms may differ, but they all revolve around the idea that the world will, in many ways, be fundamentally reshaped by COVID-19.
This idea carries several important implications for businesses, who must make significant strategic changes to succeed in that new paradigm.
Below, we’ll look at the road ahead, then explore a few of the biggest trends that will characterize the new normal.
Mapping Out the Road to Semi-Normal: A Business Guide
There are a number of frameworks that describe how the pandemic will play out.
The four-stage roadmap below will focus on the timeline of the pandemic and where businesses should focus their efforts at each stage.
At the outset of the pandemic, organizations were focused on responding to the immediate risks.
During the first few weeks and months, businesses focused on:
- Emergency response efforts
- Business continuity
- Crisis management
- Remote working
- Workplace health and safety procedures
Though this stage has passed, secondary outbreaks remain a risk. It is important, therefore, to maintain business continuity and emergency response plans.
Over time, government restrictions began to relax, allowing businesses to gradually resume operations.
During this phase of the pandemic, organizations focused on areas such as:
- Cost optimization
- Realignment of business activities
As public health measures continued to be lifted, businesses could begin to operate more freely.
The full recovery of the economy will depend on many factors, such as the lifting of government restrictions and the restoration of global supply chains.
At this time, businesses will focus on activities such as:
- Continuing to shift business priorities to meet the changing circumstances
- The full restoration business operations
- Reactivating the supply chain
- Redesigning business processes as needed
Revamping business processes and strategies will become more important as we move closer to the post-COVID era.
The Next Normal
McKinsey’s term, “the next normal,” refers to the new paradigm that they say will arrive after the pandemic. That era will bring about a number of major changes to the economy and the world, as we will discuss below.
To survive and thrive in this age, businesses should focus on:
- Agility and adaptability
- Digital maturity throughout the organization
- A resilient, efficient workplace
- Reimagination and reformation of the entire business
Major organizational changes will often be necessary to enact many of the changes listed above – and the sooner those changes are implemented, the better.
To plan effectively, though, it is necessary to understand what the next normal will look like.
Trends that Will Shape the Post-COVID-19 Era
After the pandemic, businesses can expect several important trends to reshape the industry.
The health crisis, financial strain, political dynamics, and many other factors will have a major influence on customer behavior after the pandemic has finished.
- Increased concern over health will fuel what Accenture calls a “health economy,” or an increased desire for health products and features
- Health concerns may also prefer to spend more time indoors at home, which will boost online shopping and home-related products
- Virtual products will become far more common in many areas of life, such as ecommerce platforms, remote working software, and digital training software
Customer sentiment and behavior could change rapidly, so businesses will need to continually monitor their customers and adapt their products accordingly.
The workplace will also change in several respects:
- Government regulations may impose conditions on business activities by, for instance, requiring specific health and safety measures
- Health and safety will also be a bigger concern for employees, fueling trends such as remote working
- Advancements in digital technology will increase the need for digital adoption and transformation
To address these needs, it will be necessary to develop a multi-faceted strategy that focuses on areas such as organizational culture, the employee experience, and the digital workplace.
Though IT spending has decreased across the globe, a number of analysts suggest that COVID-19 has fueled digital transformation.
Since the outbreak began, for instance, we have seen an uptick in technology-driven fields such as telehealth, telecommuting, robotics, and automation.
Digital technology, in other words, can help businesses stay operational and successful during disruptive events. At the same time, of course, digital technology offers a number of other benefits, from improved organizational performance to decreased costs.
Reasons such as these should compel companies to:
- Cultivate a digital culture and mindset within the organization
- Maintain a modern IT infrastructure
- Create a digitally savvy workforce
- Continually optimize digital business processes
Today, digital competency and maturity are required to participate in the economy.
In the post-COVID digital landscape, digital technology will play a bigger role in business, making digital maturity even more critical.