Most industries and many kinds of businesses are facing challenges unforeseen months ago, and further changing business practices is likely going to be necessary as the situation evolves. Predicting the future is ultimately an exercise in futility, but having said that, it’s likewise necessary to understand and anticipate trends and coming shifts in the market. With this in mind, let’s take a look at how businesses are adapting to COVID-19, the related issues around it, and discuss what changes and challenges might yet becoming. Some of these may seem obvious at first but bear with us as we try to derive further lessons from them.
- The Rise of Telecommuting and Video Conferencing. While many professionals and experts have been suggesting office workers adopt a work-from-home model since the late 1990s, the recent shutdown has forced the issue. Working from home, at least part of the time, is likely to remain a practice in many offices. The ripple effects of this are difficult to predict–lower demand for fuel and parking spaces, shrinking physical offices, and a drop in the need for business travel are all possibilities. Businesses of all sizes will continue to need an adaptable mindset and innovative thinking to find the best ways forward for them.
- A More Cautious Real Estate Industry. Real estate as a whole is facing substantial changes, some of which may endure and continue to evolve as regulations and market demand shift. The demand for and rules around short term rentals and hotels are likely to change, with an increased focus on sanitation and sterilization and a consumer base that will be more expectant of those things. Leases and rental agreements for both residential and business properties will likely start to include pandemic-specific language and clauses directly addressing the issue, with relevant legislation not far behind. All of this may be potentially eclipsed by the requirements insurance companies will place on policies across the board. For realtors, landlords, and business owners this will all present an evolving series of challenges that must be navigated to ensure success.
- Whither the Hospitality Industry? Perhaps the most visible impact the pandemic and shutdown have had thus far is on the hospitality industry. With bars, restaurants, resorts, and cruise lines all facing uncertain futures, the impact of the changes here are likely to be widespread and long-lasting. The rise of the takeout model for restaurants, our changing relationship with travel, and the financial difficulties faced by so many potential customers are all factors to take into account as these industries and businesses move forward. Smaller operators, in particular, will have to be innovative in their thinking as things progress.
- The Changing World of Retail. Buying patterns among consumers have changed during this shutdown, with online shopping taking an even stronger role than it had previously enjoyed. As things reopened, this trend may remain and poses some real challenges for retailers on all levels. Clothing retailers are already having to change longstanding practices by eliminating dressing rooms and allowing for more permissive return policies–customers are simply more comfortable trying on clothing at home. Grocers and supermarkets have seen a surge in online ordering and demand for pickup and delivery services–demand likely to remain. The long term effects of these changes may include a shift in the size, layout, and employment patterns for these businesses.
- An Increased Need for Communication. In nearly every industry there’s a new need for communication, both internal and external. A shift to remote working means secure and reliable communications and data handling are increasingly mission-critical, placing new demands on IT departments and office equipment. Externally, many people-oriented businesses and industries (e.g. health care providers) are finding their clients and customers want more communication; simple reminders the service provider is there, open, and available to them. Maintaining client and customer relations will likewise be increasingly critical to smooth business function and business growth, especially as consumer spending patterns continue to change.
- Flexibility as Job One. The ripple effects of our current circumstances may last for longer than we can foresee at this time. Consumer demands, regulatory changes, and adjustments in the supply line are all possible in the weeks and months ahead. For businesses and investors, this means flexibility, adaptability, and a level headed approach to rapidly changing circumstances are vital. Cool, calm planning is what will win the day, and finding the right individual approach for your current circumstances is the challenge for each of us going forward.
By understanding our current circumstances and the changes happening now, we can better forecast the coming business and investment climates and know how to best adjust our metaphorical sails. At OmniStar Financial, we’d like to take this space to remind our clients that we’re here to help illuminate the blind spots on the road ahead no matter what changes may come. Get in touch today–we’re here to discuss your needs, your plans, and your future.