The way business was conducted underwent an extraordinary disruption with the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. So as I sit in my office this morning trying to figure out why I’m having such an enormous issue filling two intermediate-replacement IT positions, I find myself reflecting on proven changes in business trends.
The last couple of years have been very tumultuous for enterprises and small businesses. A shift to flexibility is now expected from employees and consumers. Understanding this business elasticity can help companies prepare for challenges ahead while accepting that the economic landscape has likely been permanently altered. Here are some critical changes in business trends in 2022.
Increased Focus on Sustainability
Consumers are concerned about a growing response to shattering climate change and other environmental transformations on our planet. Having worked for an environmental engineering enterprise in my career, this is a top trend that I have seen firsthand. So why does this matter for employers regarding changes in business trends in 2022?
A September 2021 survey conducted by the National Retail Foundation (NRF) of 19,000 respondents across 28 countries found that 50% of respondents were willing to change their purchasing habits to reduce their environmental impact. On the employment side, nearly 68% of employees reported being more likely to apply for a job with an environmentally responsible organization. Of those, 48% said they would accept a lower compensation package.
Employers are embracing change in their business practices to reduce the environmental impact of their business. However, companies must continue looking for opportunities to reduce their supply chain and partners’ energy consumption. In addition, they must assess internal practices to reduce waste, embrace remote or hybrid workplaces for employees, and evaluate their business’s long-term environmental impacts through packaging and product lines.
Ultimately, these measures can help a business gain a hiring advantage and increase its resiliency. This will be achieved by being more responsive to environmental pressures.
E-Commerce Remains Important
The pandemic fast-tracked a shift from brick-and-mortar stores to online shopping. All consumer goods, from groceries to clothing to takeout meals, saw a migration to shopping online. Further, they complimented an online presence with the option of home delivery or curbside pickup, giving customers convenience and peace of mind over their personal safety. However, now that we are well into our new norm, consumer shopping habits have changed. This includes visits to brick-and-mortar stores, using mobile apps, and shopping online to make choices that support their needs.
To ensure success, all business owners must have a mobile-friendly, easy-to-use website with e-commerce that will allow consumers to find what they want quickly. The ability to purchase products or services from mobile devices is no longer optional. You don’t have to look much further than Amazon to see this trend in action. Today, it is estimated that 72% of consumers still rely on stores as their primary buying method, according to the above 2021 NRF survey. Looking for new ways to continue a hybrid customer service approach leaves customers with a positive experience.
Provide Alternative Payment Options
When it comes to payment, the pandemic has been a disrupter in how cash exchanges hands. In the past two years, businesses have moved toward alternative payment options such as point programs, mobile pay applications, and contactless debit/credit. Contactless payment options are here to stay. Businesses need to be prepared for the demand to increase in the form of cryptocurrencies and mobile wallets. If you as a business have not yet embraced these new methods of payment, you are already behind the curve.
Personalized and Empathetic Customer Service
Many people need increased compassion and understanding as they cope with the anxiety caused by the last two years’ events. As a result, when choosing where to spend their money, consumers prioritize an empathetic, personal experience along with quality products and services.
Staff shortages throughout the previous year found many customers frustrated with a plague of endless phone call centres, unresponsive providers, and automated services that made it difficult to speak to a human being. Consumers want compassion; that comes from understanding them and speaking directly to their needs while being clear about the business’s vision across all operations, communications, and practices. In addition, meeting employee well-being expectations is crucial to attracting and retaining talent during labour shortages. Focusing on this can help you create a workforce that cares for your customers.
Virtual and Digital Services Continue To Be in Demand
Many people were quarantined at home for long periods, and offices and commercial venues found they were required to cancel or drastically reduce in-person service. Some geographical locations still have restrictions today. As a result, demand for virtual offerings soared. Just as customers embrace a hybrid approach to their shopping, they will want the same convenience for services.
The demand for digital services and innovation will continue as the pandemic continues. Businesses and entrepreneurs benefit from this trend by either revolving current practices, expanding an existing business, or launching a new line of business in one of these rising fields.
Remote Work Will Continue Toward Becoming Permanent
Within a few weeks, the pandemic transformed mobile workforces from emerging trends to a critical organizational practice that enabled all businesses to keep workers employed and revenue flowing. Employees long expressed interest in working from home and are happier and more productive when allowed to do so. Many business owners embraced this and plan to continue offering long-term remote work options.
One of these options includes the hybrid workspace, which seeks to capture the best of both worlds. Business owners have much to gain from incorporating remote work options. Their ability to retain talent and compete for top talent in the future depends on it. How to integrate and manage a remote workforce for the long term will continue to evolve and will require business owners to invest in additional technology and software solutions moving forward.
Do you have any tips or trends you have seen percolate to the surface? Be sure to share them in the comment section below.