By Adrián Blanco - Socio
October 2021

The New World of Work: A Product of the Pandemic or of Finance?

Since the end of March 2020, the way we interact at work has radically changed. The restrictions to work in the offices of the different companies made video calls the new way of interacting, leaving aside face-to-face meetings. That new world also affected business trips that organizations had to immediately suspend.

In this new remote work environment there were winners, such as the portals that were born digital and took good advantage of the new needs between consumers and supplier companies; they were the ones who saw and executed the unique competitive advantage of powering their operations without personal interaction. Examples of these organizations are delivery apps, Amazon or Mercado Libre.
A second group, also the winner, were other companies such as mass consumption or retail that already had incipient digital initiatives and accelerated this digital transformation
For a third market segment, some questions have arisen that still remain unanswered today: how to generate new customers in a mostly remote environment for those organizations whose business trajectory has a lot to do with personal contact with the customer and institutional sales? Technology companies and consulting firms are some of the members of the segment that make up this third group.
And, finally, there was a part of the market that was the one that suffered the most from the pandemic, closely related to services to people: the entertainment industry (cinema, theaters, etc.), tourism, and gastronomy.

As we can see, all companies and businesses were impacted since March 2020. The smallest percentage of them that were already digital natives or had a good progress in digital transformation continued to work, as in pre-pandemic, in a digital environment where it does not matter so much the place from where they carry out the work task. And the other organizations, which are the vast majority, went to a lesser or greater extent adapting to the new reality: it was possible to work remotely, digitally.

Now, let's imagine for a moment the CFO of a large corporation who, when reviewing the results of that second quarter of 2020, found the unexpected and immense savings in tickets, hotels and lost trips produced between April and June. Probably, and within the complex panorama derived from the health problem, he must have received a pleasant surprise. An early Christmas gift to corporate finances battered by the effects of COVID-19. But it wasn't just corporate travel that ended; A few months later, many organizations stopped renting apartments to give way to a forced home-office for the first few months, and the logistical challenge that means that employees return to work once or twice a week (in some cases, three) in the Remaining “sites” or “hubs”. Stopping renting those flats once again represented another great saving, no longer so unexpected but very important.

Today it is almost assumed that they will not return to face-to-face work in the office 100%. It is not even known if it will ever go back to 80% face-to-face. The pandemic will pass but the effects at the level of changes in work are here to stay, since they accelerated a process that was believed to take between 4 and 8 years. The pandemic and, to a lesser extent, the savings made it possible. That is why many today wonder what percentage of this "new work normality" should be attributed to pandemic effects and what percentage to the influence of many CFOs who saw the digital transformation of their companies as a balm for their bottom line. , welcoming and embracing the financial benefits that this transformation brings.

Beyond the need to resume physical contact even minimally, the final message that reaches us is the need to transform to be on an equal footing in the world that began a year and a half ago. We can say that transforming ourselves digitally became a necessary but not sufficient condition to survive in the business world.

Adrián Blanco


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