To say that Covid-19 has changed the way that many businesses operate would be an understatement.
Covid-19 has forced a wholesale rethinking of how numerous businesses and industries operate. The virus has impacted just about every facet of business operations and management. For many, these changes look increasingly likely to be permanent. Others are still holding out hope that they might be able to return to something resembling normal operations eventually.
Technology has played a vital role in enabling businesses to cope with the unique challenges the pandemic presents. The most obvious example of this is the widespread use of zoom for remote conferencing and the various other apps and services that enable a significant portion of the workforce to do their jobs from home.
But the impacts of the coronavirus on business technology are much more varied and complex than this one example. Many of the changes we have seen since the start of 2020 represent an acceleration in pace. For example, the majority of businesses that have now embraced working from home were on a trajectory to enabling remote working before the virus struck. Covid has merely sped up what was already inevitable. But there have also been some unexpected developments.
An Accelerating Pace Of Change
Over a period of just a few months at the beginning of 2020, Covid-19 ushered in decades worth of change. Across a range of industries, businesses accelerated their supply chains’ digitization and opened their networks up to remote working employees. While these changes were already in the pipeline for many companies, they weren’t expected to be widely implemented for at least another few years. The range of digital products and services on offer has also increased dramatically as industries adjust to the new relationships between them and their customers.
Many workers have been somewhat taken aback by how rapidly these changes have been achieved. Remote working is popular amongst a significant portion of the workforce and is something that a lot of people have been wishing for since long before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. After consistently telling their workers that working from home wasn’t feasible, was too expensive to implement, or was generally unworkable, many employers now have egg on their faces as they are forced to admit that not only is working from home viable for most of their workers, but they have been able to implement the necessary changes within just a few weeks.
Of course, consumer behavior and preferences have also shifted thanks to the pandemic. Consumers have always favored online channels for many businesses and services. Now that businesses have been forced to embrace these channels, consumers are benefiting from increased online access to their favorite businesses.
Rethinking The Relationship Between People And Business Tech
An inevitable consequence of the dramatic shift towards more digital-oriented businesses and consumers is that the relationship between people and technology has changed considerably in a relatively short space of time.
A consequence of the rise of work from home culture is that the lines between home and work have been blurred for many people. Not everyone has a large home with spare rooms they can convert into offices and dedicate to their jobs. For a lot of people, the only difference between relaxing at home and working from home is what’s on their laptop.
The expectation that workers will conference remotely with one another and with their employers from their homes using apps like Zoom adds further pressure. Intensely private employees are being forced to expose their homes to other people, many of whom they don’t know very well.
Employers and employees are still finding their feet when it comes to adapting to these changes.
How Can Businesses Ensure They Keep Up?
Covid-19 threw a gigantic, explosive spanner into the works of many businesses short and long-term plans. As expected, small and medium-sized companies have felt this disruption much more keenly than larger enterprises, who have mostly been able to weather the storm. SMBs have had to tread very carefully when adjusting their approaches and introducing new tech to their workflows. Larger enterprises are better positioned to rethink their strategies on the fly and try different approaches when something doesn’t work.
For many SMEs, now is the time for tightening their belts and streamlining their operations. Technology has a vital role to play in enabling them to achieve higher operational efficiency without significantly increasing their operating costs. For example, by engaging the services of a professional employer organization, a business can outsource the bulk of its administrative functions to a third-party. GlobalizationPedia maintains a list of the best PEO providers currently available. Any of the best PEO providers cited on their site can help SMEs reduce the financial burden of their admin. You will find lists of the best PEOs for businesses operating in a range of locations around the world.
There are several key benefits to using a PEO during the Covid-19 pandemic, especially for smaller businesses.
Keeping up with the law: Around the world, new laws and regulations have been put into place at breakneck speed to enable nations to respond appropriately to this ongoing crisis. For smaller businesses, in particular, keeping up with these legislative changes can be difficult, time-consuming, and expensive. However, one of the primary functions of a PEO is familiarity with local laws. PEOs will also be ready to adapt to any local changes without requiring a green light from the client business.
PEOs are always on the lookout for legislative changes that affect their clients. In the unlikely event that a PEO slips up and fails to incorporate new regulations into their work, they are the ones who will be on the line for it, your business will be protected (to a degree).
Paycheck Protection and the CARES Act: Any SME considering making an application to their lender within the next year will need to provide historical payroll data. Going into 2021 it’s hard to predict what the lending market will look like or what shape the US economy will be in general. The easiest and quickest way of dredging up all your historical payroll data is to use an HRIS system. These systems are standard fare for PEOs but are prohibitively expensive for most SMEs.
Reduce the payroll burden: As any business grows, administering its payroll becomes more costly. With so many businesses now dealing with differing regulations between states and having sections of their workforce furloughed, on sick leave, or working reduced hours, staying on top of payroll can be challenging. Managing payroll accurately and efficiently is a core part of what a PEO does; you can rely on them to keep up with your employee tracking and reporting.
Technology is essential for any modern business, and the role it has to play is multi-faceted. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced businesses and their workers to adapt in numerous different ways; technology has had a key role to play in this. Our best current data suggests that Covid-19 has pushed numerous industries over a tipping point and set them inexorably on a new path with respect to their business technology. CIOs worldwide need to be mindful of the impact these shifts have on their businesses and their workers.