Celia Romaniuk, Accenture Interactive’s ANZ Design Lead
The COVID pandemic has forever changed our relationship with work, technology, and the way we consume, forcing businesses to fundamentally rethink how they operate to stay connected with customers and employees.
More than two years of living with a pandemic has led more people to reflect on their purpose and priorities, and many to rethink their relationship to work and the workplace itself. The great resignation and the growing popularity of “side-hustles” are indicative of this changing mindset.
We are also seeing customers consider their impact on the environment at checkout. Businesses will face significant challenges in responding to changes in their customers’ attitudes and behaviors, but these can be seen as opportunities to create positive customer relationships, shape a new way of living and work that benefits everyone: customers, companies and the planet.
Here are some pandemic-accelerated trends businesses need to be aware of:
Changing workplace dynamics
The smartphone already meant fewer boundaries between work and home: but when the pandemic shutdowns hit, office workers became participants in a sudden global experience of remote working. Although this sometimes reduced the boundaries between work and personal life, it also meant that we were able to set aside time for ourselves, for example by taking time to exercise during the day. Many have developed a stronger sense of agency and will place more value on freedoms, such as defining when and where they work.
This results in a less regulated and more fluid approach to work. Those who impose traditional working methods (clocks, one hour for lunch, etc.) will find it increasingly difficult to attract and retain talent.
The end of abundance
Empty shelves and broken supply chains reminded us that abundance is not a given. Consumers are also increasingly aware of the impact our actions have on the health of the planet – and they want brands to help them make the right choices. The sustainability movement is growing and becoming more focused on ‘doing good’ than just ‘doing no harm’, moving towards planet-positive and regenerative initiatives.
There is a significant opportunity to use innovation to do not just more, but better: find new sources of growth and relevance through “circular” value propositions that give people even more benefits than old ones. products and services. For example, circular business models in fashion retail are on the rise as consumers discover that resale and rental can enable them to obtain quality fashion, at reasonable prices, with much less impact. on the planet.
The new universe
The term “metaverse” was coined in a 1992 novel, Snow Crash, but gained prominence last October with Mark Zuckerberg’s announcement to change Facebook’s name to Meta and pivot to the metaverse. Since then, many companies have announced plans for the Metaverse. It’s still unclear exactly what the Metaverse will end up being. But as the next evolution of the Internet, we believe the Metaverse will be a continuum of rapidly emerging capabilities, use cases, technologies, and experiences. It will be an array of digitally enhanced worlds, realities and business models that will allow people to shop, work and socialize through digital avatars.
This will be an area of investment, experimentation and excitement in the years to come. Companies can learn a lot from what’s already working in gaming, where many metaverse attributes already exist: People spend $80 billion on virtual goods in games. And it is possible to make the metaverse an inclusive and diverse space, which will require those who work there to be part of inclusive and diverse teams.
The pandemic has brought to light the devastating impact of two years of confinement on our mental health. We are all more aware of the needs not only of our loved ones, but also of our colleagues, casual acquaintances and communities. Employers are investing more than ever in the health of their employees. For example, some companies, like Accenture, have appointed a chief health officer to put wellness first.
We also see that there will be a new emphasis on the accessibility of digital services: 15% of people have a disability, but only 10% of digital services are properly accessible. Accessibility of services to ensure inclusion and access for all is an important part of caring for each other.
The impact of the pandemic on the way we work, consume and relax will continue to be felt even after the worst effects wear off. As people begin to take more power over their lives in the wake of the pandemic, businesses need to pay close attention to the rise of conscious consumerism and its influence on purchasing decisions.