Writers: Richardson dR Mojica, Ph.D., Gil Dominique Norombaba
Graphics: Ivanah Rose De Chavez
January 30, 2021

The Coronavirus pandemic is one such cataclysmic event in everyone alive today’s lifetime. While in the history of the human race, people are no stranger to pandemics. The world has never been as linked together as it is today, which is why the scale and speed of infection have been unprecedented. In 2021, as the world prepares to emerge from the rubbish brought about by the lockdown imposed to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, businesses are still struggling to recover from its after-effects.

The lockdown led to massive economic disruptions, with hundreds of companies forced to shut shop. The continued safety measures have made remote working and digital operations the new normal. The World Economic Outlook of the International Monetary Fund or IMF projected the global growth declined in 2020 by 4.4%. However, it also predicted that in 2021, global growth would gradually recover by 5.4%. As a result, companies will now have to make a rapid transition from offline to online, which requires an entirely new approach to business strategy.

Sifting through the rubble of the globally trying year, some industries have survived and thrived during this pandemic despite the lockdown that the governments imposed. It is still believed that this trend will continue in 2021. Some experts have weighed in on what is expected for 2021.

WORK FROM HOME, STILL

Many experts believe that work from home will continue to be the default work set-up of many companies. One of the reasons for this is that companies need to consider several factors when they require employees to work on-site. Coen van Oosteom, CEO of the real estate company Edge, suggests that companies need to consider the rearrangement of the companies’ working area considering social distancing protocols, ventilation, and other design features so that people could avoid close confine spaces. Moreover, PwC said that health and safety standards must be strictly implemented in offices, should they decide to go back to office work. These shall be communicated continuously and adequately monitored, which may present some challenges in the long run.

DATA LITERACY

Bernard Marr, a business and technology futurist, said that some businesses should leverage data literacy to interpret customer needs and enhance their decision-making. With remote work and contactless transactions in trade and businesses, cloud solutions are widely used. Data stored in clouds should be managed, protected, and secured properly. As the business continues to grow in 2021, data volumes grow massively, and companies must invest in systems that effectively and efficiently process, analyze, and store data. Marr further stressed that businesses should maximize data literacy to their advantage in their business planning and development.

WOMEN IN THE WORKFORCE

Women in the past decades have become a major driving force in the global economy for the past decades. According to the International Labour Organization, the global ratio of men and women in the workforce is 75% to 49%. Albeit the gap between men and women in the workforce is wide across the globe, women have become more represented since the call for women’s representation started along with pleas to close the salary gap between the two sexes. Anna Brailsford, CEO of Code First Girls, a non-profit social enterprise that empowers women in IT, said that in transition to 2021, organizations would take the opportunity to reshape their conventional ways of achieving gender parity in the workplace. Merely 17% of women are IT specialists in the UK, and only 35% of the women population are pursuing sciences, technology, engineering, and mathematics in higher education, Brailsford said. The pandemic has bought businesses into a situation where a diverse and highly skilled workforce is needed. Companies can maximize this opportunity to upskill women and empower them as they turn to their existing employees to meet the challenging needs and demands of time.

MORE AND MORE E-COMMERCE EXPANSION

The COVID-19 pandemic has reshaped the whole system of e-commerce, accelerating its expansion towards new firms, customers, and types of products, likely involving a long-term shift of e commerce transactions from luxury goods and services to everyday necessities. According to a study conducted by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the COVID-19 crisis has enhanced dynamism in the e-commerce landscape across countries. It has expanded the scope of e-commerce, including through new firms, consumer segments (e.g., elderly), and products (e.g., groceries). Meanwhile, in many countries, e-commerce transactions have partly shifted from luxury goods and services towards everyday necessities, relevant to many individuals. Furthermore, the study cited an increase in the retail e-commerce in the USA from 9.6% to 11.8% between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2020, while in the UK from 17.3% to 20.3% between the first quarter of 2018 and the first quarter of 2020, to then rise significantly to 31.3% between the first and second quarter of 2020.

2021 has just finished its first month. There is more to expect in the succeeding months and weeks. But one thing is for sure businesses have to adapt to the fast-changing society and develop ways to survive and succeed.

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