The COVID-19 pandemic has truly had a seismic effect on all aspects of our lives – from in-home behaviours and social distancing when we’re out and about to having to find new ways of working and communicating with our colleagues and customers, we’ve all suddenly been thrust into a space which has presented some real challenges.
But as much as the challenges are real, the sudden forcing of the situation has created an opportunity to learn new skills, explore new technologies and put into practice things we may only have touched on in a theoretical way until now.
One of the key skills that we’re all engaging with more often and to a greater depth is using digital tools to replace or supplement previous activities – however, this in itself has presented its own challenges.
Even before COVID-19 the vast majority of employees, and actually employers too, lacked some basic digital skills and understanding. Now, being thrust into a world where communication, marketing, selling, managing operations, accounting and more can all be done using a range of digital tools that do not necessarily require any real-world follow-through has set a new bar for employees to reach…and quickly.
What does this all mean?
Simply put, the time has come for as many people – employees, employers, freelancers and more – to upskill themselves as much as they possibly can to be ready for a very different world once the pandemic alleviates.
There will be many factors to consider – what platforms and technologies are required for your specific needs, how fast you can access these, how easily you’ll be able to implement and train up on them etc.
But to get started, here are four considerations to start with, that should help you get a solid foundation upon which to grow.
1. Move your business to a cloud-based platform
As the world digitizes, and business operational functions integrate, there is an increasing range of digital, cloud-based systems to help you achieve lean efficiencies. From integrated Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools which help manage your supply chain through to accounting and management, digital marketing and human relations software, there are full package solutions, supported by cloud-based Artificial Intelligence and security systems that can drive cost, time and complexity improvements across your entire organization.
2. Do a proper analysis of where and how you can transition to a virtual office
Whilst there are certain aspects of running a business, and certain types of businesses that are less suited to a virtual office set up, this latest crisis has forced most of us to innovate around how we communicate, problem-solve, market and sell our goods and services and collaborate using digital office solutions.
From Wildix, Zoom and Skype to Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams and more, there are numerous software packages available to help you transition from a physical to a virtual office.
So don’t delay – do a critical analysis of your operational requirements and understand exactly where and how you would be able to implement new technologies in the future to help your staff integrate new ways of working quickly, easily and efficiently.
There are also many consultants who can help you analyse your requirements and recommend systems that best suit your needs.
3. Analyse and adapt your business to take advantage of digital opportunities
Not all businesses or individuals will be able to transition completely to a digital business practice, but simply doing an analysis of your business and identifying quite literally any way that a new digital skill could make a positive impact is a step in the right direction.
Begin by diagnosing your own skillset and understanding using PWC’s free digital fitness app
Again, there are consultants and resources available to help guide you, and you’ll likely be surprised at how many previously unconsidered opportunities become apparent as soon as you start to look! From a simple website and digital marketing strategy to full e-commerce and more, there are multiple ways you can make significant strides into the digital world.
4. Build sustainability to tackle the future head on
This may be the most difficult aspect of transitioning into a new, digital way of working, mainly because the future is not knowable – however, if you implement the strategies and practices above you’re giving yourself the best chance of being ready for a future that will be increasingly digital.
COVID-19 has merely accelerated the inevitable, so now is the time to take a proactive and positive approach to understanding, implementing and benefitting from the digital tools at your disposal. The future depends on it!