Global Connection: Finding Functionality Online

Moving your business into a virtual workspace
Ana Karina Van Nortwick
October 14, 2020

Take a second and evaluate how you engage with technology. What first started as a functional assistant in your daily process is now the main form of engaging with anyone. Our technologically driven world creates ample opportunity, but not everyone faces the same dilemmas, circumstances, or accomplishments. The sudden shift in the workforce converges online, yet each situation presents a unique problem that must find a unique solution.

Clients, agents, peers, teams, and companies make the jump to bring their world completely remote and online. The processes changed in response to a global pandemic were not severely detrimental for large businesses, but what of small businesses without an already established worldwide online presence?

Larger businesses can run their business effectively until the economy stabilizes and reopens fully. Small businesses on the other hand face other challenges and many believe they will see a slower return in comparison. A poll run by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce states that small businesses anticipate a longer wait before normalcy: 55% believing the business climate will take six months to a year. 

The sudden shift from personalized interaction to a fully remote experience for clients of small businesses can be less than ideal. Throw in that some businesses were at the starting point or barely on the ground running online when the pandemic hit; suddenly, the experience does not match the in-person interaction. Moreover, connecting all employees can create lulls in production.

According to an employee at a small engineering firm in Pittsburgh who requested anonymity, “technology in companies, particularly in ours, posed a problem. Our work is both online and in the field. With fieldwork on pause [back in March], our entire process went to working online. Yet, as a business, we were completely unprepared for remote work. Due to that, there were several work hours per person dedicated to tech issues.”

Concurringly, a study by Bartik et al., states that “the results suggest that the pandemic had already caused massive dislocation among small businesses just several weeks after its onset… Across the full sample, 43% of businesses had temporarily closed, and nearly all of these closures were due to COVID-19.” 

As always, experiences are different, yet one factor remains consistent, an online presence is essential in maintaining function and connection. There are resources to ease the transition online, customized websites and services are always the best routes, but if time and constraints are an issue, there are sites that offer prebuilt websites and other functions.

Displacement and issues arise, but not all are entirely at a disadvantage. A small real estate company took efforts at the first sign of the pandemic and began prepping their business to work with minimal staff before switching entirely online. They were able to support agent and client relations with minimal decline in their business. In real estate, personal interaction is gold. Still, online efforts made in the wake of a pandemic– tailored to each client– proved that enough effort and care situations could find an upside.