New Year is a time to reflect and learn. But 2020 was such a huge year in so many ways that we’ll probably be figuring out what it all means for a long time to come.
With the pandemic still ongoing, what will stay with us from 2020 and what might fade away as COVID-19 is suppressed remains an open question. From a business perspective, though, changes brought about by necessity may well be adopted permanently out of convenience.
We’re a digital design agency. We make websites, build eCommerce platforms, apps and digital marketing plans. So, even though 2020 moving almost wholly online was daunting, of course – it made sense to us nonetheless, and to how we see the world. Everyone understands now how important not just websites and applications are – but high-quality ones can be. The better the tool, the more productive we all can be.
That’s perhaps the first thing everyone has learned this year: the value of good digital design. Businesses that already had great apps or eCommerce sites in place as 2020 dawned were better placed to survive the year. Those that didn’t – or which had apps that weren’t very usable, or were designed only to handle limited traffic – had a lot of catching up to do.
Even apps with a small foothold in the market like Zoom could, because they had a great product, take advantage of new needs. It’s not always possible to predict the future – but embracing digital, and implementing effectively, makes businesses more resilient, whatever the world throws at them.
Of course, the main reason we were all scrabbling for digital solutions was that so many of us were suddenly working from home. Surely most businesses have now learned a lesson that will stay with them for some time to come: that remote working is possible.
For many years, businesses and MDs have been understandably sceptical that remote working could offer the same productivity levels that can be achieved in the office. This is for all sorts of reasons, perhaps most importantly the fear that communication and collaboration simply cannot be as efficient at a distance.
2020 has demonstrated that remote working can and does work – in a pinch, teams have made a virtue of it. That will have a long-lasting impact on how businesses go about their work. At Image Plus, for example, we’ve opened up an office location in central Manchester. This doesn’t replace our Coventry headquarters – but we’re confident that parts of our team can operate from it whenever they wish without impacting on delivery.
On the other hand, we’re big believers, too, that 2020 has emphasised the importance of socialising and community on mental health. As a business, we’ve no interest in never being together in the office ever again. Physical premises matter because they build relationships and help colleagues bond. Human beings are social creatures – and in 2021 we all hope to spend a lot more time working together again, even where there are new opportunities also to operate in exciting and innovative ways.
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