Post COVID-19: How Business Will Change Forever

Joe Auciello RGM Partner

COVID-19. Coronavirus. Daily press conferences from our Premier. Stage 4 lockdown. Who would’ve thought 8 months ago that this is where we’d be? 

That thought in itself is scary because, in all honesty, who knows what the world will look like in 2021. Will face masks form part of what we will come to know as the ‘new normal’? At a local level, what will Gippsland look like? How will our interactions change between one another? On a broader level, how will Australia recover financially from the multitude of State and Federal monetary intervention?

These are all questions that quite frankly should concern us all. That’s not to say we won’t recover, but what is evident is that we must find comfort in the eventuality of a ‘new normal’. So, here’s my take on this “new normal”. 

Working from home – is it that bad? 

For those that own or work for a business that operates predominantly with computers, working from home is a concept that you would have had to become accustomed with – and not by choice. Who would’ve thought teachers would be able to work from home? I mean, they can’t teach kids from their lounge rooms so there’s no way that can work, right?  

If this pandemic has taught us anything, it is to expect the unexpected. Business owners around Gippsland were probably of the view that they needed their staff within earshot at all times so they can keep an eye on them for fear of them becoming unproductive. It’s amazing how our perspective changes when we’re forced down a path that we ought not dare go down in normal circumstances, to then find it’s not so bad after all.  

The overall view of our clients is that working from home has actually improved productivity. Yes, that’s right – improved. Why you may ask? Here are some examples: 

  • “I’m far more focused at home with less distractions”; 
  • “I’m not wasting an hour of my day travelling to and from work”; 
  • “My work day is far more flexible with my kids whereby I can work later at night to make up for time I spend with them during the day to home school them”; and 
  • “I’m less anxious because the chance of catching COVID-19 is a lot less at home than being at work.” 

I’m sure there’s a number of other examples but I’ve found these to be the most common. Now of course there are instances where some of you are more productive at work due to supervision, lack of technology available at home or various other distractions at home. By no means am I saying that everyone should work from home! However, what I am suggesting is to be more fluid in your view.

If you own a business, be open to at least considering this as an option for your staff. If you’re an employee, be reasonable in your expectations! Remember, the business owner has many stakeholders to consider. 

But what about post-COVID-19? Should we go back to our old habits and be rigid in our views? Short answer – a blunt no! If you’re more productive now working from home, why change? Perhaps a hybrid approach of working 3 days from home and 2 days from your workplace would appease all parties. With modern technology, the excuses of not being able to work from home are fast diminishing.  

How Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become ‘in vogue’ 

I’d love to know how many new subscribers Zoom has had in the last 6 months. Same goes for Microsoft Teams. For those that are unaware (not many of you I bet), Zoom and Teams are video communication programs that all you to talk to another person or people at one time. If only I was given a dollar every time I’ve heard the remark “imagine if I had invented or owned shares in Zoom!”. 

In Gippsland, it is common to conduct our business face-to-face such is the ease of travel without the added stress of navigating through peak hour traffic. Given this, conducting meetings via video has largely been ignored because it was seen as unnecessary, and fair enough. We’d rather drive half an hour to see someone in Traralgon even if we lived in Drouin. Even one minor glitch in using technology has the propensity to turn anyone off from using it if the default option is available. But, if this year has taught us anything, it is to embrace change.  

Roll forward to the present day. Members of our community of all ages are now Zoom experts! Why? Because they’ve been forced to use the technology that’s always been available to them and more often than not, the feedback is that the experience is not that painful after all. 

Now that more of us are accustomed to using the technology, will that be the default mode of communication post-COVID-19? 

Electronic Signatures – can they be trusted? 

Electronic prescriptions from your doctor. Clicking a button on your email to sign your tax return or sell your house. These are just some examples of how society has had to adapt to continue to transact on a daily basis. When it’s forced upon us we have no choice but to comply, but the question still remains; can electronic signatures be trusted? 

I don’t profess to be a technological wiz, however I think it’s fair to say that an electronic signature will never be as secure as an original, or “wet”, signature. But like anything, we must compare the risk versus the expediency that electronic signatures provide. In my view the risk is only marginally greater than that of a wet signature, but the efficiency it provides is far greater. Society has changed in such a way that we’re all time poor. The more opportunity to save time, the better off we’ll be in my view. 

RGM – an insight to how we’ve changed for the better 

Through crisis comes opportunity. This common saying has never been more appropriate than now. I’ve been in the privileged position to see many different businesses from many different industries adapt to ensure that their financial future wasn’t materially impacted. RGM has been no different, and nor have we been immune to being impacted by COVID-19. 

Our biggest challenge was advising our clients on the varying impacts the virus was either having or going to have on their business, not to mention the angst in their voice due to the uncertainty of everything. With face-to-face appointments and onsite visits essentially off the table, we had to find new ways of going about communicating with our clients. We implemented a telephone appointment system, Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings and for anything that needed to be signed we used our MYOB Portal that has been a raging success.  

Lastly, working from home became necessary due to rules put in place by the State Government but once again we adapted by just changing how we communicated with each other. I must say, not having to put on work clothes on and travel to work was a big winner for the team, and constant Microsoft Team meetings between each other soon became common place.

Whilst we cannot say for sure what the future may hold, you can rely on RGM to support you through it. To get in touch with Joe or any of our other advisers, contact 03 5120 1400.