At the close of another challenging year, it’s time to reflect on some common prominent issues concerning businesses. There are of course many other important concerns and developmental areas, but there is a pattern that seems to have affected just about all businesses during this time.
Business mentoring professionals have assisted and supported business leaders by working together through many normal business challenges, as well as through the many problems and opportunities presented by the COVID-19 disruptions.
One area that is rising is the chronic shortage of talent, which is frustrating and hindering business performance and growth. Finding and securing the right talented people has and will continue to be a critical concern for all businesses.
Supply chain disruption and escalating costs for shipping and air freight have been another blow, whereby essential products could not be sourced due to shortages, container supply, labour disputes and trade tensions.
The changing culture of staff working from home has also been high up on the agenda. Whilst some employees have embraced the opportunity to work from home, being able to avoid a commute, spend more time with their pets and be productive in a comfortable environment, many staff members have not been happy with remote working, nor have some businesses. Those who do not want to work from home may lack discipline, need closer supervision, or may become demotivated with the lack of personal contact with other members of the business. Businesses that have collaborative work environments and particularly in service industries have found the demand to work from home by staff is not optimal for their business models. Other businesses have been able to adapt and will enjoy lower property costs in the future, and may even get better productivity from their happier staff.
The pandemic has accelerated the uptake and regular use of virtual meetings, which has largely been successful. This approach does make teams work together easily and efficiently and with less travel time. Where individuals and businesses have not adapted to this approach, they are missing out on increased efficiency, better communication and reduction in travel and accommodation costs – benefits and practices that will extend well after the pandemic has long been consigned to history.
The impact on commercial real estate will continue as businesses contract their required office space due to working from home, but also from the competition moving into online shopping. Similarly, the impact on housing will change as remote working increases the spread of individuals and families to further distances from city centres. Remote working also increases the available pool of people for a given business, from local to inter country, and will impact labour markets by increasing flexibility and competition between potential candidates. It has often been the case that many new staff over the last 2 years have not actually set foot in the office or physically met with their employers!
Border closures have caused problems whereby people have been shut out of their state and indeed Australia. The risks associated with travel saw business leaders stranded with uncertainty of when they could return to their homes and businesses.
The online take up has been fast-tracked for online commerce and online learning over the last 2 years. To support these changes, large scale implementing of systems for online sales and learning systems environments has been a necessary survival strategy, but also a longer term sustainable competitive advantage. The COVID-19 period has changed demand for products and service, and this will encourage new market entrants into markets. Customers have also changed, with savings increasing as lockdowns have reduced opportunities to spend, such as travel. The travel and holiday industries have also fundamentally changed due to the high risks of lockdowns. No doubt the pent-up demand will eventually kick start these industries again.
Industries based around business failures are still ramping up, as many businesses fail as a direct result of COVID-19 lockdowns or changing demand patterns.
The enormous changes caused by the pandemic will have lasting consequences. Many of these will be positive for businesses and all people that work, but some can cause enormous complications, making things difficult for business leaders. The confidential support offered by a business mentor or coach can be a very welcome service to help businesses adapt.
Another rising trend is sustainability. Sustainability is now higher in the minds of the public, customers and businesses, and businesses are adapting to implement policies, good corporate governance and strategies that place sustainability as a high priority.
Looking to the Future
The outlook will no doubt improve as countries get COVID-19 under control and international and local borders reopen. Many business and individual frustrations will dissolve and businesses and employment will recover, with a positive growing future predicted to recommence.
Now is a good time to arrange business mentoring, enabling you to reflect and anticipate how 2022 will play out and how you might best position your business and strategy for that promising future.