Business Beat: Bold Predictions for 2021
Last year was the Twilight Zone in the world of business. Sales, owners’ and managers’ sanity and employees’ resilience alike were up and down like a toilet seat. One day they were open for business. The next they were closed. Or pivoting to online. They were holding meetings on Zoom. Getting Zoom bombed.
“Can you hear me now?” “You’re muted.”
“You’re not muted and your dog is barking.”
“Hang on, my kid is sucking up all my bandwidth with Minecraft.”
“See the little camera with the red line through it, click on that.”
This is all rather funny when you’re Zooming with grandma and grandpa, but this was our daily work experience in 2020. And now in 2021...
My coworker suggested I review the adaptations of 2020 and make a New Year’s style prediction about the future. So, what are my bold predictions for business in 2021?
- More of the same: Zoom meetings. Cat-faced lawyers and other mishaps aside, Zoom meetings provided a new level of accessibility. From meetings to court proceedings to school, Zoom and similar platforms saved the day. It wasn’t perfect, but we didn’t grind to a halt. Expect more of this, and when we’re able to do away with it, expect No. 2...
- Hybrid business models: Some components of virtual meetings are going to prove to be very sticky. Travel expenses, geographical distance, snow storms, packed schedules and the sheer convenience of virtual meetings mean they’ll never go away. And they shouldn’t. There is a time and place for in-person meetings, but virtual meetings can supplement them.
- Remote employees: sticking with the virtual theme, some businesses have found employees that they simply wouldn’t have been able to utilize way back in the world of 2019. Even if they could have, the concept was foreign. But now that they’ve employed them, and reaped the mutual rewards, geographical location is, for some, no longer a barrier. Expect more of that.
- Gig workers: building off items 1-3, Gig workers are the next logical progression. Some businesses will benefit greatly from having part-time talent under contract for short periods of time to complete discrete tasks. And combining that business model with the aforementioned virtual workspace, geography will be irrelevant. This is a whole new workforce that benefits both the contractor and the consultant. Attend our workshop on gig workers here: www. eventbrite.com/e/119301719655
- Shopping locally: Our worlds have shrunk exponentially during COVID. Shopping locally is exploding everywhere, because as we are restricted to our own communities, we are reminded of the importance of our local businesses. Online shopping has also increased sharply, and Medicine Hat has blazed a new trail with shopyxh. ca, which allows us to shop online, locally. Watch this initiative evolve as we emerge from the pandemic to expand local businesses’ sales reach, while simultaneously increasing local in-person sales.
We wish you a healthy and prosperous 2021, whatever it actually looks like. Hopefully, 2020 presented business adaptations that resulted in your business becoming more resilient and profitable, and you’re looking toward a bright future.
About the Author: Michael Harrington is the Community Economic Development Officer with Community Futures Entre-Corp Business Development.