Coronavirus could change the way we do business for the better

Author
Ian Bell
Executive Director of Bath Chamber of Commerce and Initiative | Business West
17th April 2020

Whilst businesses are still grappling with surviving the lockdown, it’s becoming clear that things will never be the same again. We’re still having regular conversations with members and some of them are already thinking about how they might adopt some of the measures they’ve been forced into using for the long term.

For example, I’ve been hearing of companies with multiple offices using Zoom for management meetings rather than booking a hotel room and getting everyone to drive to a central point to gather as a group. They say it takes less time, gets the work done and is a much cheaper option.

The video meeting probably won’t ever totally replace the face to face, because human beings still appreciate real contacts. You can understand much better the mood of people you are dealing with. But it might be that it will be a good option for some of the meetings, so you might meet via video for two months and then have a “real” meeting every quarter.

Another change is working from home, which posed real challenges for working couples with children. Now it seems that many have started to develop their own protocols, where one parent gets up early to work with the second parent working later into the evening. That means things like e-mails are sent at slightly strange times, but the jobs are still getting done and family life can be maintained.

It might be that as a result of learning how to operate in this way, more people could choose to work from home, possibly sending their children to nursery one less day a week, saving money whilst doing their job. In fact going into the office may not necessarily be the everyday norm in the future, but rather it will be something you do with a specific purpose in mind, such as having a team meeting or some other collaborative activity.

Changes of this kind could also have wider implications in terms of office accommodation. Businesses may want to review the scale of their premises and it may be possible to run a company in smaller buildings. That in turn could impact on the way city centre developments are designed and delivered and some of the assumptions we have been used to working with may have to change.

We’re living in strange times, but it’s just possible that the things we learn now could improve the way we do business in the future.

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