The pandemic has without a doubt changed life for all. Its impact will also undoubtedly change the way we approach business. For starters, we must now incorporate social distancing and stay-at-home. These mandates have significantly affected business logistics and operations strategy. While the disruption brought on by the pandemic will perhaps be temporary; there are a few trends that look to be a permanent part of the new normal regardless of the industry.
‘Just in Time’ Production
This manufacturing strategy made famous by members of the Japanese Business community, has become more or less standard practice in most industries. Here, just enough inventory is kept in stock to meet short term demand. The driving concept behind this strategy was to keep costs and waste at a minimum. With production processes quickly becoming faster and faster, this strategy became more and more attractive and popular. However, the pandemic proved that production speeds were still not fast enough for panic demand. Indeed, there were almost immediate shortages in products including toilet paper, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizers and multi-purpose cleaners.
Should the private and public sectors agree on emergency stockpiling? Which will be the products chosen? And will both sectors share the bill in support of the public good?
Working from home
In order to ensure survival, this arrangement became critical for some establishments during the pandemic, especially for those categorized as ‘nonessential’. After having this experience under their belts, HR departments are showing strong inclinations of implementing work from home arrangements for the long term. This can be supported by Microsoft Teams app usage increasing from 32 million per day to recent usage boosting to 44 million in one week time. Businesses are using convenient apps such as these to efficiently and effectively collaborate on projects and hold meetings. This practice will ultimately lead to cost savings in areas such as traveling and time. There is now a sharper focus on deliverables and less on time spent at a work station. This will highlight potential areas of excess human resources and lead to independent work at home units being paid to produce specific deliverables within specific timeframes.
The Focus on Hygiene
Everyone by now has experienced the new strong focus on hygiene and cleanliness being had by businesses. It is not likely that this will revert post-pandemic. This will equally be consumer driven as it is policy driven. Consumers will want to know and not be in doubt, that when they enter a store they are in a clean and safe environment. Consumers will expect a place to wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. In an effort for businesses to establish and build trust among customers, this will now be a critical point of focus. Those businesses that provide hygienic measures and integrate best-in-class sanitation will have an essential part of the foundation of success. This could entail from installing air purifiers to hiring a company to frequently clean the establishment and making this process known to the customer base.
Online Business Surge
Online Business is not a new concept, however, pre Covid-19 there were a fair amount of categories that either weren’t available online or didn’t have a huge presence. There was also a drastic disparity in these options being offered in the ‘developed’ world as compared to the ‘developing’ world.
A case in context, where Trinidad and Tobago is concerned, was grocery delivery. As guidelines became stricter, consumers stayed home and so the online platform took a premature development, as did customers opting to acquire their necessities online. Within the US market, some grocery chains with delivery services were overwhelmed by the demand and those without an online delivery service experienced drastic falls in turnover.
If this trend develops, as all indicators point to it doing so, supermarket chains investing more and more into the delivery will become a new industry benchmark.
What these trends imply
Here we must stress that the common ground for these trends is now more than ever, access to accurate data and reliable internet connections. Covid-19 has already tested the strength of networks around the world and it will continue to be tested as the new trends remain. This directly implies that tech based companies will invest heavily in developing their networks in order to increase speed and bandwidth or more efficiently serve their customers.
It has now more than ever become a case of accessing what you want and when and where you need it as a critical element of business success.