5 business trends set to emerge in a post-COVID society

Virtual Fast Forward Forum' un-conference' sheds light on business trends likely to fuel the workplace impacted by the pandemic

International experts and speakers including Cindy Gallop, Heather Mills, Dhiraj Mukherjee and Professor Dr Markus Hengstschläger took to the virtual stage in April to discuss the business trends and challenges created by the ongoing COVID-19 crisis. Here is what Lucie Greene is a trend forecaster took away from it.

It’s becoming clear that there are a few emerging business trends that will have a lasting impact on post- COVID society. My fellow speakers and I at the Virtual Fast Forward Forum have been discussing how these trends will shape the future of the workplace and business, and how businesses can adapt successfully.

There are a lot of variables, including how long we will be living in life under lockdown, but these are the key business and social trends we can expect to impact the workplace and businesses:

  • Working from home

One key business trend is remote working. Once seen as a luxury in traditional businesses, working from home will now become widely accepted or mandate. Heather Mills, CEO of VBites, investor and philanthropist, says, “employers are finding out whether staff are delivering from home. If they are, they won’t need them to come back into the office environment. The digital world will be a huge part of the future.”

  • The acceleration of existing business trends

COVID seems to have accelerated the business trends we were already seeing. This is the case with things like the consolidation of big tech power and the death of traditional media.

  • A growing sense of anxiety

We have already seen the power of the anxiety economy in promoting and investing in wellbeing gadgets, and gadgets that monitor our air quality and accelerate our fear in the world around us. COVID is only going to accelerate this collective sense of anxiety.

  • The wealth divide

The growing wealth divide is something that has been accelerated by COVID. Cindy Gallop, worldwide advertising guru, has noticed that there is a huge growing disparity between those who can still consume, and those that are desperate as to how they are going to survive. “The ability to spend and the ability to consume is now non-existent for very large amounts of the population. This is true for the UK, Europe and the US – the pandemic has both exacerbated and demonstrated income equality like nothing else.”

  • Innovation

One key business trend is innovation. Businesses need to look at altering the way they run if they are going to survive. They need to be realistic – just because lockdown is lifted, doesn’t mean every business can go back to how they were. Carla Johnson, world-renowned storyteller and business influencer says, “Leaders know that they can’t continue what they’ve done in the past. The whole dynamic of how we do business in this environment is different. What worked in the past, won’t work going forward. This is an opportunity for innovation. Businesses need to look at how they start to rethink their processes.”

Should we be optimistic?

The post-COVID19 consumer could look very different. One trend to impact business is a new and considered approach to consumption, involving a focus on wellbeing and thoughtful sustainability. However, there is also the prospect of a countertrend emerging, one that is hedonistic and fatalistic. This ‘yolo’ attitude could be enhanced when we are allowed out to live as normal.

Carla is optimistic about the business trends to come after COVID-19, especially when it comes to the way we look at responsibility. “Those purpose-driven brands that weren’t made a priority before, or were maybe on the fence, will really rise to the top.”

Heather says, “We’ve become such a greedy superficial world. A lot of us will become better people – but some of us will remain the ignorant people we are and continue as we were before.”

A lot of variables are still in place, but it’s clear there will be a massive shift in the business trends we will see. Whether it’s shifting to online, expanding into a new market, or catering to a new kind of conscious consumer – businesses will have to rethink the way they run in a post-COVID society.

Article based on the society panel at the Virtual Fast Forward Forum 2020. Lucie Greene is a trend forecaster, award-winning author and founder of Light Years, a Los Angeles-based Futures Practice. She is former global director of the Innovation Group at JWT Intelligence in New York.

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