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It's no secret that the global COVD-19 pandemic in 2020 challenged every aspect of our lives; from how we travel and socialise, to how we work and earn a living.
Digital innovation in how businesses operate has been developing for a few years now, but the inability to interact face-to-face due to COVID-19 seemed to give some industries the final push into shifting business practices fully into the digital space.
Thanks to apps, social media, online platforms, business software and more, many people are reaping the rewards of online business, even as we slowly move into a post-COVID world.
In-store and online
According to recent data on the behaviour of US consumers, we have vaulted five years forward in consumer and business digital adoption in a matter of around eight weeks.
But this raises the question - why were businesses able to adapt to online so well?
Through digital innovations that allow for a near-instant experience, businesses have been able to meet the new needs of their customer base online in the same way they were able to with in-store service.
Customers can browse clothing collections, chat online with financial advisors and even try on a new pair of glasses with the help of virtual reality.
With everything seemingly online these days from sales and services, to buying goods or even just finding friends, there's little reason for most people to want to be face-to-face with others.
As the world continues to get a handle on COVID-19, business owners and consumers have defined what it means to buy and sell.
Daily operations go digital
While the customer experience adapts well to online, what about from the business owner perspective?
Even if your business services shift to online, there's still the matter of managing invoices, payroll, HR services and other day-to-day operational tasks.
The software can take care of day-to-day business requirements as well. The COVID-19 brought business software and applications into the limelight.
Businesses in a wide range of industries soon discovered there are applications for just about anything - from employee scheduling to CRM, inventory management, customer relationship management, and even business intelligence.
Nowadays, if you want your business to keep up in a post-COVID world, you would do well to utilise as many online apps as possible.
And the great news is many are free or have a great free plan, so investing in the right software is an easy, stress-free essential for any small business, or even a large one wanting to make the most of their time and money.
Flexible work arrangements are the new normal
Software playing a larger role isn't the only change businesses are reaping the benefits from.
Once only an option for freelance workers or digital industries, the ability to balance working from home with working in the office or in-store is also doing wonders for people's mental health.
Most companies these days will allow some form of remote or virtual working, so as long as you're getting your work done, there's no reason not to be working from home most days. However, it's not always about the work. It makes a huge difference in employee wellbeing and happiness as well, which comes back to better productivity and less stress for people using online business tools.
Change is good
The concept of the 9-to-5 workday has been around since the 1800s and was popularised in the 1920s by famed business magnate and founder of the Ford Motor Company, Henry Ford.
There has been a call for the shake-up of the arguably outdated 9 to 5 life for years, so the post-COVD preference for remote working comes as no surprise.
With the potential for remote working and an increase in the use of mobile devices as tools, it's not hard to see why the trend is growing.
As more and more companies start to shift their focus away from traditional office hours and towards a more flexible working style, online tools will only become more important for businesses.
The COVID-19 pandemic will always be remembered as a dark moment in world history, but as with most traumatic events, there is often something to be learned from the experience.
In this case, we were able to realise the benefits working with business software and offering flexible working arrangements can bring. It's fair to say that the success of any business in the post-COVID world will be rooted in digital innovation.