By Geeman Yip, BitTitan
As we enter 2021, much uncertainty remains. The lingering impact of the global pandemic continues to influence business, creating a downstream effect on how we move forward in our personal and professional lives.
A new normal is beginning to take shape. Many of the workplace changes that companies adopted last year are likely to continue for the foreseeable future. While we’ve navigated enough territory to inform how to proceed with business planning in the coming year, businesses must demonstrate agility by adopting new practices and technologies to implement in their everyday operations.
Proceeding With Caution
With lingering market uncertainty, businesses will likely keep a closer eye on their expenses, while maintaining an increased emphasis on conserving cash. Companies should look to what has worked in countries and markets where the spread of coronavirus has slowed, and how businesses adapted to remain viable. We may also see an increase in M&A activity as companies realize that they may be stronger combining forces with another business to better scale their operations. Expect travel restrictions to be in place for the entire year, as they’re contingent on a global vaccine rollout and intercountry travel standards being defined and implemented.
An Evolving Workplace
Remote work will continue well into the new year to reduce the spread of coronavirus, as well as other infectious diseases. The arrival of effective COVID-19 vaccines is promising, yet the path to widespread vaccination and herd immunity remains unclear. Businesses anticipating a return to office work should expect this no earlier than summer – at best.
Many businesses may also re-evaluate their need for physical office space given the continued reliance on remote employees. Companies may consider converting their existing offices, moving away from individual desks and tailoring their space for collaboration. This may mean creating more conference rooms and flexible workspaces, as well as a hybrid approach to encourage employees to return to the office full-time.
Moving Further Into The Cloud
Moving to the cloud has enabled businesses around the globe to maximize remote access to software, systems, and information. In 2021, companies will continue to expand their cloud adoption and usage, leveraging it further for enhanced operations. Similarly, usage of workplace collaboration software, such as Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Google Workspace, will continue to expand, enabling increased collaboration and engagement.
To improve workplace productivity and manage costs, businesses will look to optimize their data centers. Increased investment in IT infrastructure management, assessment, and reporting will help businesses streamline operations and decrease technology costs.
Investing In Tools, Training For Greater Efficiency
As companies seek to improve their processes and implement new technologies that enhance collaboration, smart companies will also increase monitoring around the rate of adoption and employee usage. This will help businesses determine what training and support is needed to maximize the use of mission-critical technologies, in addition to increasing employee effectiveness. Companies will invest in reporting tools to gain greater insight into spending on software licensing, allowing them to eliminate or reduce the cost of non-essential software and SaaS applications.
A Rise In Social Interaction
Sales and marketing professionals will increasingly turn to their social channels for one-to-one, person-to-person partnerships with individuals that they trust. Without the traditional conferences – which will likely still be virtual as we await the widespread rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine – we anticipate fatigue will develop around email marketing, leading to an increased appetite for social connecting and interaction. As a result, anticipate a rise in social connecting, with folks turning to platforms such as LinkedIn, YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter to build connections and partnerships.
Promise is on the horizon, but hurdles from the previous year remain. The pandemic has forever changed how businesses operate. With proper planning and an eye toward the future, businesses can address the challenges ahead, reduce their overhead, and achieve growth in the new year. Though this pandemic will eventually end, the effects on how we operate and do business will continue long afterward.
About The Author
Geeman Yip is the founder and CEO of BitTitan, a SaaS-based cloud enablement provider based in Bellevue, Washington. Geeman founded BitTitan in 2007 to help IT service providers and businesses assess, deploy, and manage technology solutions in a rapidly changing cloud world. Prior to BitTitan, Geeman was a Program Manager for Microsoft Exchange, architecting what would become the foundation for today’s Office 365 suite. He has over two decades’ worth of experience in the software and IT spaces.