It’s been just over a year since the US reported its first cases of the coronavirus and stay-at-home orders were handed down across the country. While some businesses found new and creative ways to thrive throughout the pandemic, many others were unable to stay afloat. Before we look ahead at what business re-openings might look like, let’s take a look at some of the ways business has changed in the last year.

Business Travel has Declined

In a year where many people stayed at home, it’s not surprising that air travel across the board—and specifically business travel—declined sharply. According to the US Travel Association, business travel spending fell 70% in 2020 (compared to 27% for leisure travel). This steep drop off, while a huge hit to the airline industry, translated to billions of dollars in savings to US companies.

Companies now are beginning to grapple with whether the saved expenses from business travel have turned into costs – either to new client acquisition or maintaining client relationships. Some companies, such as Amazon, believe their sales teams have found new ways to reach clients. Going forward, companies may be able to capitalize on more ubiquitous telecommunication technology that allows for big savings in company sponsored travel.

Teams are Both Remote and In-Person

While many companies have opened up offices with capped or limited capacity, others have remained closed entirely, with employees continuing to work from home. For the first time, businesses have been confronted with the challenge of managing not only a large-scale remote workforce (Pew Research Center assessed that 71% of employees were working remotely at the end of 2020) but in many cases a blended workforce with both in-person and at-home employees.

According to the same Pew Research study, 54% of working adults say they would like to continue working from home all or most of the time after the coronavirus outbreak ends. One of the key challenges throughout the pandemic has been learning to train and engage employees remotely. If we continue to maintain a large remote workforce, companies will need to find new and useful ways (likely using interactive technology that goes beyond teleconferencing) to engage employees and build team camaraderie across the in-office and remote workforces.

Flexible Operating Models are Driving Success

Early on in the pandemic it became clear that businesses that were willing to pivot and that had operating models flexible enough to do so were the ones both surviving and thriving. Using data-driven insights to guide decisions and respond to large-scale market changes has been a key success criterion this past year.

And at ACTN Strategies, it’s our area of expertise! Our team has developed a post-pandemic Strategic and Operational Resiliency Model designed to successfully lead businesses forward with renewed flexibility as we enter the next stage and emerge from the outbreak. To learn more about our business resilience services, check out our website or give us a call at 770-693-0241.