2020 was the year that forced many companies and industries to adapt at breakneck speed. While some of these changes were a temporary response to the specific circumstances of COVID-19, others are here to stay.
Governor Mike DeWine said in mid-May “it is time to end the health orders,” so the state of Ohio lifted all COVID-19 health orders on June 2 (except for long-term care facilities). Each Ohio citizen can now make their own decisions about wearing a mask or social distancing. Though there are still some unknowns regarding the economy, the potential return to normal has arrived, and the second half of 2021 is poised to be very successful for many businesses.
Let us look at some business trends that are going strong right now.
The Expanding Role of Technology
The pandemic severely limited in-person interactions for a long time – for The Chamber Alliance it has been 15 months, and organizations pivoted to virtual solutions for their communication needs. Video conferencing, once seen as only for special circumstance, has moved into the mainstream. Now that most of us are at least comfortable with the technology for virtual interactions, this trend is here to stay. Working from home is also not going anywhere for some industries. Employees enjoy the flexibility and lack of commute, and many employers have found that remote work is more successful than they had anticipated. Now that the technical infrastructure is in place, even when things return to normal, there is a good chance that many employees will remain off-site, at least some of the time.
Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
2020 was a year of sweeping social justice movements, leading to a renewed focus on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) in many areas. Employees and job seekers are expressing the importance of DEI in the workplace, and businesses are taking steps to reduce bias in the workplace, including using more inclusive language in their hiring process. The goal is to retain current employees, and if need arises for additional staff, recruit from a larger pool of untapped talent and underrepresented professionals. It is a way to stay competitive – diverse organizations tend to be more creative and have stronger bottom lines.
Job requirements have shifted a bit during the pandemic. Safety continues to be among the priorities for employees. They will continue to need reassurances of workplace safety, considering the possibility of the transmission of COVID-19. Organizations keyed into this concern are sure to mention points such as cleanliness, physical distancing, and temperature checks when reporting back to work. The availability of paid sick leave and remote or hybrid work also reassures employees that the organization is serious about their safety in the workplace.
The health and safety of our team members was the driving force for having them work from home during the COVID-19 pandemic, so their health and safety should be the goal when returning them to the workplace. Though the potential to return to normal has arrived, it may still take a while. We will want to make sure this transition is as easy and comfortable as possible for our returning and future employees.
Thank you for being a valued member of the West Chester ▪ Liberty Chamber Alliance. Together we grow your business.