How Pandemic had Helped in Shaping Up the Future Workplace
The past year and half has presented the world with unprecedented challenges but also provided a number of great opportunities for growth and innovation for all those firms that were flexible and forward-looking.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced the business community in general to change their idea of a future work place especially in connection to small and medium-sized business entities. In light of what we have seen in this past year and a half it can be said that, for small and medium sized accounting and audit firms, the idea of future workplace will continue to change and evolve with time and changing business requirements driven by political, economic, technological and environmental changes. It is critical for firms to adapt to business requirements and workplace environment accordingly. The way in which the firms will respond and adapt to the changing business and workplace environment, will determine whether they are destined for long-term growth and success or a permanent setback.
Hybrid Work will Stay Beyond the Covid-19 Pandemic
The pandemic has caused the workplace to completely change forever. Employees now go to their offices for team building, social interaction, or to get back into routine, but they are not required to be in the office for all work purposes. As per a survey carried out by Convergence Coaching firm, 81% of firms expect more and more people to work from home post the COVID-19 pandemic.
The pandemic has also rebuffed the notion/ perception that relationship with clients require consistent physical interaction. Due to the pandemic, it has now been proved universally that clients can be served at anytime from anywhere around the world through the use of technology e.g. remote audit services, bookkeeping and accounting services, etc.
Working from home is here to stay within a hybrid model. As per Gallup, optimal engagement of employees’ occur when they spend 60 to 80 per cent of their office time working from home or another remote place. It is expected that a combination of remote and onsite work environments will continue in the near future, and therefore business entities who have not yet shifted on this model, should make the necessary adjustments that will enable them to shift on the said model. Clients may not require accounting and consultancy firms to be physically available everywhere all the time, the need for physical interaction will not be essential for a number of job functions.
Relationships have Become More Important Than Ever
Relationships with clients, employees, vendors are essential if a business wants to grow and remain successful in the long-term. The pandemic has caused interpersonal relationships to become more important than they were ever before. Before COVID-19, businesses were primarily focused on innovation because they wanted to improve business efficiency, improve their business models and improve quality of their services and products. Today, innovation is required with respect to how the firms approach, interact and communicate with their customers, employees, suppliers and other business stakeholders.
When the pandemic started, it required a quick and smart response from businesses to the disruption it caused to the daily business activities but after a year and a half it can be said that it also provided the business world with an opportunity to open the business activities in a way that was different to the one we all knew. In order to stay ahead in these difficult times, business entities need a new workplace environment that offers the employees with the flexibility and comfort to which they have become accustomed to due to the pandemic. In addition, businesses should allocate office spaces meant for larger open-collaboration, socialization as well as for independent working.
COVID-19 Protocols, frequency as well as transparency of interactions and communications including the platforms for them, are also fundamental to a seamless switch to a remote-work environment and also important for creating a valuable and impressionable customer experience. For example, millennials are starting to enter different organizations as Boomers are retiring, and have different ways of communicating, interacting and connecting. Firms will have to adopt the new ways and methods of communication so that to remain updated with the new generation.
Trust and Confidence
Transparency of actions, communication and interaction as well as trust in culture and people, especially when working from home or remotely, is fundamental and essential if businesses want the new work model (based on on-site and remote working) to work.
From a customer’s perspective, the most successful accounting firms previously had a trusted brand identity, business contacts and long-standing business relationships. Now, it is important for financial consulting firms to also have expertise in niche areas to be called an expert in a true manner as well as to attract customers
Firms must consider building strong online brands through the help of websites and social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc. Another benefit of working from home or remotely is that expert content can be developed and published from anywhere at any time. Historically, it was nice to have an online presence but now it has become an important need of businesses all around the world.
Looking Towards a Bright Future
The world has changed more rapidly beginning of 2020 than it changed in the last couple of decades. Small and medium-sized entities now have become more nimble when compared with large corporations and business entities. This provides small and medium-sized entities with an opportunity to not only adapt quickly but also to compete for both good business opportunities as well as good talent resource.
As for anything else in the world, a well-devised strategic business plan serves as a beacon for a promising and bright future. The new hybrid workplace model will continue to exist and expand beyond the COVID-19 pandemic as its foundation is based on relationship building, team development, engagement, collaboration, communication, and more. The future looks bright and promising and full of opportunities.