Change is the only constant in life. – Heraclitus
So much has happened! So very much has happened! It’s hard to grasp the changes that have forced us to work differently and think differently—never mind try to predict what’s coming around the bend.
One thing we do know… the COVID-19 pandemic has permanently altered our behaviour.
According to a recent study carried out by IBM, consumer and employee behaviour will look very different going forward, and companies will have to adapt their business models if they hope to survive, never mind thrive.
Let’s look at some of the changes we can probably expect:
People don’t want to use public transit. If they’re going anywhere, it’s in their own vehicle. They don’t even want to use ride share vehicles. This might be good news for car sellers, except for the fact that one third of respondents say their personal finances will influence if they can buy a new vehicle. Most don’t have enough confidence in their jobs to make a major purchase, like a new car. Which brings us to…
Remote work has really grown on people. More than 75% of respondents would like to work remotely at least some of the time, while 54% would like to work remotely all the time. In the past, employers had the excuse of not being set up to allow for a remote workforce. Now, however, the pandemic has forced organizations to figure out a remote working solution, and employees won’t easily accept a return to the old ways of in-office work.
Customers are also on board with online, or at least arms-length purchasing. 75% of those surveyed say they will visit stores to buy essential goods. What this means in terms of the overall retail industry will be up in the air since most people still prefer to buy from brick and mortar retailers. The pandemic has people prioritizing shopping at local stores and buying more locally made, grown, or sourced products. They now order online, in many cases, and go pick up their purchases through a drive-through or take contactless delivery. They’re also using contactless purchasing options like credit cards and mobile devices.
Sales has also had to make a shift. Although businesses are re-opening and starting to, again, make some money, they still have significant financial concerns weighing them down. The role of sales as a partner and supportive in the business efforts of customers will take centre stage now. Sales professionals will find the questions they ask their customers need to change and listening carefully to responses is tantamount. What was important to customers before may very well be different now. This doesn’t mean Sales should do nothing. Their customers still need them to be available—just maybe, now, in a different way.
What does this mean to companies trying to make their way through this “next normal”?
Employees will expect a shift in the way organizations permanently operate. Temporary “fixes” put in place to enable people to work remotely during the pandemic will be expected to be made permanent. Companies will be forced to look at how to get this done, while still operating securely. Systems will have to be permanently put into place and the tools needed to work productively and well from home will have to be considered in organizational supplies purchases. The good news is companies will likely have to spend much less on leasing expensive commercial space. (Well, this may not be such good news for commercial real estate companies.)
Managers will also need to think differently. With a move to a remote work force, gone are the days of measuring progress by seeing who’s at their desk. I’ve long advocated for completion of deliverables as a sign of productive work versus bums in seats. I’m constantly amazed how many managers think people are only working if they can see them. Maybe the data will convince them—studies show an increase of 47% in productivity when working from home. Here’s a breakdown of the findings:
The average worker starts at 8:32 a.m. and ends work at 5:38 p.m.
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday are the most productive days, in that order
Telephone calls are up 230%
CRM activity is up 176%
Email is up 57% and chat is up 9%
(Survey data compiled from 100 million data points across 30,000 users)
Working with customers is going to take on a different tone. What motivates people to buy now may be very different from pre-pandemic purchases. Customers have become accustomed to new ways of working with suppliers and may want to continue doing business in those ways. Changes that have come about as a ‘fix’ for the pandemic may very well be permanent ways of doing business going forward.
What does this mean to your business?
Now is the time to invest in training your people, ensuring they’re ready for customer demands now and into the future.
According to the World Economic Forum, the business skills most needed now are Soft Skills (or as I prefer to call them ‘Power Skills’). These skills, like communication, relationship building, networking and influencing, feedback provision and coaching are key management skills, yet most managers don’t possess them. These are much harder to teach than technical skills, and many companies don’t have the resources to provide this training. As a result, their managers struggle to connect with their reports, engagement suffers, as does customer service and, ultimately, revenue.
In facing a situation of releasing, rehiring, and redeploying employees, companies are finding it difficult to keep up with training needs. That’s where we come in. C-Change Learning and Development provides soft skills training in the following areas:
New Manager and Manager Potential Training
Companies prioritizing developing their talent to meet the needs of the pandemic environment and the Next Normal will be able to more confidently move forward post-pandemic.
Contact Laura about your company's training needs: firstname.lastname@example.org.