5 significant factors that will drive post-pandemic businesses:

  • Real estate costs
  • Home working, the new reality
  • Collaboration tools, the options and pitfalls
  • Supply chain disruption
  • Post-pandemic leadership.
Rocking the status quo?

Previously, the business market moved relatively slowly to disrupt the status quo in terms of space requirements. It failed to challenge actual utilisation and alternatives to fixed cost space, such as home working, co-working spaces and flexible desking.

Business is now rethinking space assumptions with 5 key stakeholders driving the future corporate office footprint; finance, corporate real estate, facilities, HR and technology. I believe the functional silos of the past will collapse – and fresh thinking will drive a smaller and more relevant real estate footprint.

Landlords will be forced to offer shorter lease commitments, rent reductions, greater flexibility in premise use – and the growth of flex space, which has driven the growth of co-working space in the last 10 years.

So what is flex space – and why do we need it?

Flex space ranges from a more dynamic change of space use to more creative possibilities, allowing you to convert your fixed office space into facilities that better serve the business and the local community.

Why should an office premises not serve as a food and beverage outlet, a community wellness centre or even training space for companies in the local area?

So, what could the new normal look like?

‘Normal’ used to be a relatively standardised approach on many leadership fronts, from staff engagement to client and supplier communication.

The new normal will be much more about a personalised approach to management. For example, this will mean developing support plans for home workers that reflect their broader needs, from wellness to technology support tools.

Out of adversity comes opportunity

While this new normal may introduce new levels of complexity, forward thinking businesses can use this opportunity to streamline processes, reduce costs, improve customer service and attract talent.

So, what leadership traits are needed to make this new normal a reality? I can think of three:

  • Courage – to confront the new realities head on
  • Vision – to extrapolate how the new normal translates into opportunity
  • Empathy – to build and grow the right team. The new “followers” will be looking for courage and trust, not the old command and control structures.

So what will be different? Almost everything.

The new business normal is an opportunity to press the reset button – a chance to address so many things that were not right with the old normal.

These range from the drudgery of commuting to work, to business models based on growth and cheap money, rather than sustainability and resiliency that serves all parties sustainably and preserves the environment.

The new normal should also be about actions that serve the global community, not just national or sector interests.

If this pandemic has served to bring the problems of the old normal into focus, we will have moved forward as humanity. That is my real hope – and as the Dalai Lama so perfectly puts it:

“It is under the greatest adversity that there exists the greatest opportunity for doing good, both for oneself and others.”