The Future of Work: Impact of COVID on Professional Services
The COVID-19 pandemic has shocked the world and forced people to shield themselves from others in an attempt to stay safe and reduce the risk of catching coronavirus. The pandemic has had a significant impact on the business landscape, affecting the future of work and the workplace, especially the way professional services are exchanged and completed. Typically, the consumer would carry out face-to-face professional services; however, this has been virtually impossible in some corners of the world. So how exactly have service providers, consumers, and businesses alike, adapted to this issue?
Do consumers still meet up with Service Providers?
From the data Servcorp has collated in our recent study, we can find that even though there has been a drastic drop in the number of customers meeting professional service providers in person, the same level of professional services are still being provided or maintained. Those that work in legal, consulting, financial services, and IT are just a few areas of the key sectors in the business landscape which have been affected due to the limited contact between consumers and professional services.
We can draw from the data that there is still a high demand for professional services, although there is a change in how these services are provided. These services have adapted to the changing business environment, forcing them to find new ways of liaising with customers. Service providers have taken a digital approach to work, including non-contact or low-contact ways of meeting customers. The future of work may include Zoom, Skype, Virtual Offices, DropBox, and increased use of cloud-based technologies. These types of technologies allow consumers and suppliers to meet each other in real-time, but from any location they please. These digital methods are also more cost effective, as opposed to communicating face to face in the same location. These methods may reduce the spread of COVID-19 but will, over time, also ease and lower the cost of these technologies, as they become a business staple in the future of work long after COVID-19.
Does a professional office environment impact consumers’ decisions?
In response to the information we gathered above, we asked if meeting a professional service provider in an office environment impacts decision-making when choosing between professional service providers. The response was yes, meeting in a professional office environment positively impacts on a decision when choosing a supplier. This may be a case of brand trust, which affects the consumer because they can see the time, effort and funds that a professional service has put into their workplace. The professional environment may give the consumer security that the service provider is established, and has a professional way of conducting business.
The data shows that people aged 55-69 were more than twice as likely to report meeting in a café as negative than people aged 25-34. This shows that the future of work has morphed and created new workplace trends, such as meeting out of the office in a non-corporate environment. If your business is not run out of a professional office, say a home office or coworking lounge, there are always options that can be taken to create a great first impression to a client, such as Servcorp Meeting Rooms. Meeting Rooms allow you to rent professional office spaces for meetings and other business activities, whether for an hour or for a day.
To further solidify that new workplace trends have begun to change the future of work, we compared the data we received relating to meeting in a professional setting compared to meeting in a more public environment to the data we received in the 2016 and 2017 on the same topic.
We found that even though meeting in a professional environment is the best and safest way for suppliers to meet potential clients, views on other meeting places outside the office have changed over the past 5 years. The future of work now entails Hybrid workplaces that are becoming far more acceptable, with over 70% of responses claiming that meeting in a café in 2021 does not negatively impact on choosing a professional supplier.
As stated previously, we could see these numbers have risen in recent years, with the pandemic forcing the future of work and meetings to be carried out digitally and remotely or in virtual workspaces (think Asana, Jira, Slack, and Microsoft Teams). Under ideal circumstances, perhaps this can pave the way for the future of working from home and introducing an organization’s workforce to new and more advanced digital skills. The pandemic has also forced more innovation in the technology sector. It has allowed consumers to get in touch with professional services and have the work they need carrying out via increased automation. We can even see that across the world that the future of work is changing even in hospitality venues; menus are introduced digitally after you scan into the restaurant with a QR code.
So what is our conclusion?
There is much demand for professional services now, and COVID has impacted the workplace with the future of work changing rapidly. The human interaction element has been reduced from the equation, and customers have adapted to that. We can see that in 2016, meeting in a professional office was the primary way of meeting with suppliers. However, perception has shifted, and meeting in smaller areas outside of an office or even online has become a widely accepted way of conducting business in the future of work.
If these statistics are a sign of a new trend, which may be here to stay, this could reduce the human element involved in transactions and business deals. This could be received positively, as consumers and suppliers alike do not have to commute to one another, saving time and making deals easier and more manageable in the future of work. Negatively viewed, if we see the reduction of the human element in these types of dealings, this could result in job losses, due to the diminishing need of suppliers greeting consumers in the future workplace.
Servcorp provides answers to the shift in workplace trends brought about by COVID, by providing Virtual Offices, Meeting Rooms, which may assist your business In transitioning into what seems to be the new age of working out of the traditional professional office. These products also allow the business to have a dedicated secretary tending to the business and its suppliers. Virtual Offices are a great way to work from the comfort of your own home, and supported with all the benefits of a premium address in your local city.