Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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The year 2020 has proven that any prediction or expectation can go down the drain in a matter of days. But it is human nature to speculate, predict and prepare. And hence, here we are again talking about what to expect in the future.

After the pandemic made way for an unending wave of transformation, businesses around the world had to draw up new short-term plans to do damage control and ensure business continuity. The recent crisis has clearly proven that adapting to change is essential to stay ahead in business.

Post pandemic, many businesses had to shut shop, while quite a few tech oriented ventures sped up their launches to meet the popular demands and made possible a number of important changes. After a year of crisis fighting, 2021 will be crucial year for businesses and is expected to usher new trends. Author and speaker, Nick Leighton has put together a list of 5 trends that business proprietors and CEOs envision to gain momentum in 2021.

The ways of working will continue evolving

The pandemic forced all organizations to shift to remote work model, even if they had a negative bias towards it. When people continued with remote work productively for months, businesses had to review their biases and form new and clearer opinions about remote work models.

In 2021, even after the vaccine is out and the virus is eradicated, it is expected that organizations will continue to experiment with in-office work, remote work and hybrid work model – to eliminate unnecessary real estate costs and ensure maximum operational optimization.

Emphasis on networking will increase

The pandemic has broken all barriers in terms of physical meetings and interactions. Face to face meetings will always be valued across industries but it won’t act as a barrier in the next normal. In 2021, businesses will increase focus on virtual networking to unlock a whole new realm of potential. A robust online presence will help businesses to gain and retain customers and ensure employee engagement.

Businesses would need to alter their marketing plans to increase social media outreach, better customer service online and enhanced online networking with employees. In the new normal, companies with stronger online networks will experience higher success. Business proprietors can use virtual peer boards to boost business networking.

Innovation must be embraced from the core

In the present times, no CEO or company management would openly say that they don’t encourage innovation, however, internally many might believe their business doesn’t need or have the resources to support innovation. That is a very problematic belief.

With the world transforming rapidly and consumption patterns shifting very fast, companies have to find new ways to cater to the dynamic business landscape and to do that they must be innovative. In 2021, companies would continue to innovate, not necessarily by adding new technology but may be by bringing small and novel changes coming from the frontline employees.

Better online presence will be essential

All these trends will converge towards improving an organization’s online presence as well as digital profile. Companies would need to ensure proper online channels are available for employee interaction and enhance communication with customers to resolve customer concerns at the earliest.

Websites and interaction interface would need to be made strong and simple. Making products and services available for buying online will also be essential as consumers of 2021 would be expected to gravitate towards companies that make buying easier and customer experience better.

Enhance organizational flexibility

Traditionally, businesses thrive on long-term planning and strategizing. 2020 has shown that sticking rigidly to a long-term plan in a rapidly changing scenario is not advisable. The coming year, 2021 is expected to see many new events – a vaccine will be available, most people would get the vaccine gradually, some people might choose to not take the vaccine, etc. – all these events can change consumer behavior and consumption patterns.

To thrive in 2021, businesses must have multiple plans for multiple scenarios and maintain an organizational flexibility to switch from one plan to another as per the changing scenario.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Economic Times – ET Edge Insights, its management, or its members

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