Seeing that this pandemic is one of a kind and that the human race has no frame of reference that could be used as a guideline, it is almost impossible to predict what to expect in terms of the impact the outbreak will have on all sectors of our country and economy. In addition, changes to the way business will be conducted in future, is yet to reveal itself and will take time doing so.
The role of technology
One aspect that is sure to play a larger role in business, is technology. The number of meetings held on electronic platforms during the initial lockdown period grew with leaps and bounds. Following this huge increase in virtual meetings, many made good use of the opportunity to host online conferences.
The fact that it allows for a much larger audience and can be broadcast worldwide, boosted its popularity. Attending e-conferences in the future might become the new normal and event organisers should consider this in their planning. In the international and South African agricultural scene, many companies switched to webinars and online meetings in order to conduct business as usual. There has also been a marked increase in virtual farmers’ days and online auctions, although this was a trend that started to pick up prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.
A new way of working
Another change that could be here to stay is that of employees who work from home. In the agricultural sphere, however, this is not always possible, especially when it comes to production. During the lockdown the ‘work-from-home’ measure was implemented to prevent the movement of people and to keep the coronavirus from spreading; in future though, this practice could become commonplace as many companies have come to realise how much they can save in terms of office space and general expenses.
It does come with its own challenges though. Employees would have to be well equipped for these remote working conditions and would probably have to invest in desks, office chairs and reliable internet access. And then there is the question of productivity and consistency.
One more change that we could expect to become more permanent, is more flexible work schedules. This is due to parents who must also keep an eye on their children while working from home, making it more challenging to work according to traditional office hours. A flexible work schedule is a logical step when combined with an increase in the number of employees working from home.
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