The pandemic created plenty of short-term disruptions, but it also provoked many changes in how we live and how we do business. Now that we’re in our second year of living through this pandemic, we thought we’d investigate some of the lessons we’ve learnt during this highly unpredictable time.

1. The lesson of resilience

With all that we have been through, personally and professionally, resilience is the biggest lesson we’ve all learnt. By no means do we mean to romanticise this; quite literally for the sake of your health and the survival of your business, you had to be resilient. You have had to build safety mechanisms like workplace flexibility, more localised supply chains, better inventory management and cash reserves. There are many things we know now in 2022, that we had no clue about in 2019. We now know the several types of work that can be done remotely. We’re aware of the several types of commerce that can be transacted conveniently online. We’re also aware that, when they feel safe enough, customers are willing to make major payments using their devices.

2. The adoption of technology

The world adopted and embraced recent technology at a furious rate during these two years. Everything from businesses creating their own apps, the adoption of QR codes, online groceries, third-party delivery services etc. The pandemic absolutely accelerated online purchases and package deliveries at an extraordinary rate. According to a Deloitte study, more than 70% of South Africans are shopping online at least once a month. Most cited convenience, COVID-19, and saving time in that order as their reasons for increased online shopping.

3. Cybersecurity

With the increasing use of technology in our everyday lives, we also have more opportunities for cyber security risks. With apps needing frequent updates, this allows cyber hackers to do damage. To protect your business and your data, you should train and educate your staff, and create a cyber-resilience team, for example. Your business must strengthen its defences by predicting emerging cyber threats and understanding the new defensive capabilities that now exist. Read our article on cybercrime to dive deeper into the various ways you can protect your business.

4. Gaps in true inclusion

For true transformation to happen, we need to be honest about how far we still must go, even with the advancements in technology. Even though attention was given to issues of racial and gender inequity in recent years, previously disadvantaged individuals still face persistent bias. Certain smartphone biometrics, programme algorithms and cameras still struggle to perceive and render the skin tones of non-White individuals. Skewed data in payments and banking products can result in Black applicants being denied credit at higher rates than white applicants. Also, individuals with visual impairments or mobility constraints often must wait months or years for accommodations to be built into applications and devices so they can use them.

5. Culture shifts

Globally, we had to rethink the way we worked and what the traditional working environment looked like. There now exists a large amount of the workforce who will never return to the office full-time, so office culture will change. Another culture change that businesses should learn from is the impact of the Great Resignation which saw many individuals leave their places of employment due to factors like mass burnout, apprehension about returning to offices and the need for flexibility.

The shift meant that workplaces must be more understanding of employee expectations, priorities, and needs. The pandemic meshed our personal and professional lives in such a way that businesses had to learn that staff are not just worker bees, but they are people with needs, aspirations, and struggles.

The bottom line

The pandemic has changed a lot for people and businesses. We are now more aware of our humanity than before and run our businesses in a way that speaks to that humanity and the various purposes we have as individuals.

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