The Business of Business in 2020
2020 has been a year of change, growth, regression, experimentation and adaptation. With December coming to a wrap and January speedily approaching, let’s reflect on the new “business as usual” mindset we’ve developed in response to COVID-19, working from home while navigating the unexpected expectations of online performance.
Digital is arguably the most impactful component to the success or setbacks of a given industry. Mary Meeker’s 2020 Coronavirus Trends Report cited advancements, improvements or simply increased use of technology across a variety of industries that helped them survive. A surge in tech usage allowed healthcare, corporate offices, engagement-reliant businesses (like entertainment or fitness) and on-demand businesses to thrive despite restrictions and shortages.
The healthcare industry reaped the benefits of digital innovation in 2020. We experienced an increase in published research available online focused on the coronavirus, medical advancements supported by the expansion of real-time global communication and the development of artificial intelligence to improve the practitioner operation and patient experience. With online communication, patients could visit doctors virtually, and medical professionals and scientists could hold virtual conferences and discussions.
Although some corporate companies operated remotely before the 2020 stay-at-home orders, most employees had the make a quick transition to working from home. Compared with the approximate 39% of remote workers pre-COVID, nearly 80% of employees went remote between March and June. While change is always a hurdle to jump, most companies found that online collaboration was just as effective as in-person collaboration. Meetings were limited (turns out, it can just be an email), cloud-based functions and online databases were utilized, digital presence and maneuverability were improved and digital communication was perfected. PwC survey results show 82% of employees want to work from home at least one day per week when COVID precautions and concerns are alleviated. Though limiting or completely irradiating face-to-face interaction has been a blow to office morale, companies are learning that their business models were outdated and fluidity is important for keeping their employees happy. After 2020, no one will be returning to the same office they left, (if that office even exists anymore).
On the flip side, 2020 has witnessed a rapid increase in demand for labor in transportation, supply chains, groceries and healthcare. Amazon reportedly hired 427,300 new associates, Walmart added more than 200,000 new associates and The Kroger Co. brought on over 100,000 new associates in the first eight weeks of the coronavirus outbreak. With the unfortunate and devastating loss of about 22 million jobs, opportunities for short-term labor reallocation appeared in Commercial Drivers License flatbed truck drivers, warehouse handlers, geriatric nursing assistants, personal care aids and delivery drivers. A large portion of the growing need for transportation workers comes from the increase in online orders from stores needing to restock and individuals shopping from their homes.
Livestreaming has changed the game for engagement-reliant business models. eSports and video games have emerged as popular pastimes in response to traditional sports taking a temporary pause to evaluate their possible courses of action through the pandemic. Twitch saw a reported average of 15 million daily active users throughout 2020, increasing approximately 5 million in active streamers from February to April of this year. Professional athletes livestreamed their video game competitions, and when they returned to the courts, fields and rinks, online stadiums filled to watch live-streamed games. Comedians, musicians and other performers utilized Zooms, MasterClasses and live-streaming platforms to continue performing in socially distanced shows. Most colleges began to open their stadiums to an extremely limited capacity of students and offered live-streamed games to parents and fans. Gyms and personal trainers have taken advantage of the huge uptick in online engagement by offering live classes for their members to virtually follow from home. COVID has shown producers that consumers will still consume if their content remains accessible – in some cases, offering livestreams has broadened their audiences and allowed more fans to participate any time, any place.
The on-demand business model has shifted focus from services like Uber and Airbnb to Grubhub, DoorDash, Postmates, Instacart and other instant delivery apps. Major corporations like Kroger, Walmart, Target and other superstores have begun offering at least curbside pickup if not complete delivery, subsequently encouraging smaller and more local operations to offer takeout, contactless pickup and contactless delivery. DoorDash sailed through 2020 with week-over-week growth of 20% from January to November, allowing franchised and local restaurants alike to continue serving their customers despite dine-in restrictions.
The 2020 coronavirus pandemic has turned the business world upside down and dramatically changed how we consume products, services and content. People are online more often with more things to say, resulting in an incredibly saturated feed for us to look through at home. For additional perspective from a COVID-content creator, read our previous article in The Collection. 2020 has been tough for most of us but our reactions to these problems and our flexibility with conforming digital to our needs actually strengthened many industries, creating opportunities and changing how we conduct business forevermore.