Over 2 million people have been infected with the coronavirus known as COVID-19. The pandemic has caused major changes in the way we conduct our lives. Schools are closed resulting in children learning online from home. Millions of adults have traded their office setting for a work-from-home environment. And countries throughout the world have imposed social distancing and lockdown measures to flatten the curve. It’s therefore of little surprise that many business changes have occurred as well as companies adapt to this new world. And some of these changes with coronavirus have been rather profound.
Though information is still limited, it appears that COVID-19 is spread through respiratory and contact measures. Individuals with the virus, both symptomatic and asymptomatic, can cause the infection to spread. Likewise, the virus can last up to 3 hours in the air and 72 hours on a smooth surface. Based on these insights, social changes with coronavirus protections have emerged. And business changes have evolved along with these developments. But what may be most important are the lasting business changes this pandemic creates when all is said and done.
“The Advanced Cleaning inventory of [Airbnb] accommodations will help give travelers even more peace of mind because their hosts have pledged to stricter cleaning standards. We believe our hosts will embrace the 24-hour wait period…to help protect themselves and their guests.” – Chris Lehane, Head of Global Policy and Communications at Airbnb
Accommodation Changes with Coronavirus
It’s no secret that the travel and tourism industries have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic. Companies like Airbnb have seen tremendous reductions in revenues as travel bans and lockdowns have occurred. In fact, Airbnb has had to seek investor assistance during this time because of the business changes experienced. However, as travel resumes, Airbnb and others will need to reassure their guests of their safety. Likewise, for Airbnb specifically, host protections will also be important. Understanding this, Airbnb is already instituting new changes with coronavirus protections that will be effective in early May.
The new policies at Airbnb will include a new cleaning and sanitizing protocol for hosts. The company will offer a learning and certification program that host may take. Once completed, Airbnb guests will be able to see which hosts enrolled. In addition, business changes for the company requires that hosts wait 72 hours in between bookings. However, upon completion of the cleaning and sanitizing protocol, this can be reduced to 24 hours. By promoting these changes with coronavirus protections, Airbnb hopes to reassure their customers of their safety. This will likely be a common theme for many companies moving forward.
“Wearing a face covering isn’t about protecting yourself, it’s about protecting those around you. This is the new flying etiquette…this [onboard space] is a shared space where we have to be considerate of others.” – Joanna Geraghty, CEO and President of JetBlue
Business Changes in the Air
In addition to travel accommodations, air travel has also been tremendously impacted by COVID-19. Thus, business changes for airlines are priorities when it comes to dealing with passenger safety and protections. For JetBlue, changes with coronavirus protections now include requirements that all passengers wear face-masks. Previously, face-masks were only required for crew members. But effective this month, JetBlue passengers must also oblige. From check-in, through boarding, and throughout the flight, these changes with coronavirus safeguards will be effectively in place.
Other airlines re also embracing similar business changes with COVID-19. American Airlines isn’t requiring that passengers wear masks yet. However, they are providing all passengers with sanitizing gels, wipes and face-masks on arrival. Likewise, American Airline crew members are required to wear face-masks at all times. United Airlines and Frontier Airlines also demand this of their crew members as well. In all likelihood, all airlines will invoke similar changes with coronavirus safety measures eventually. What will be interesting is whether these new measures remain in place after the pandemic subsides.
“[Remote work] had been proven prior to this, but a lot of company management and leaders showed great skepticism. That skepticism will go away because companies recognize that remote work does work.” – Steve King, Consultant at Emergent Research
The Post-Pandemic Office
Many business changes are already occurring as we speak in an effort to combat the spread of the COVID-19 infection. The most notable are employees working remotely from home in an effort to comply with lockdown and social distancing measures. Given the benefits this provides, it is likely many businesses will continue these workforce strategies after the pandemic resolves. But this is only one of the changes with coronavirus likely to affect the office of tomorrow. In fact, COVID-19 is likely to completely revamp not only office layouts but operations as well.
Among the business changes that are likely to come include automatic doors that open and close on entry and exit. Elevators will be redesigned to respond to human voice rather than push button inputs. Likewise, ventilation systems will be revamped to enhance filtration. These measures along with complete spatial reorganizations and new cleaning protocols will be routinely instituted. And office materials will increasingly embrace hospital designs that utilize antimicrobial fabrics and materials. In essence, the post-pandemic office will be very different from the one we knew before.
Changes with Coronavirus Pose Many Unknowns
The business changes mentioned above are those that are already in the process of occurring. But many other changes with coronavirus are likely to appear as the economy slowly begins to reopen. Many questions remain unanswered. How will restaurants and bars manage social contact in the future? Will events and concerts see long-term effects that change their business model? Will virtual sports and other entertainment venues become more popular and replace in-person attendance? All of these are valid questions given our current situation. Only the future can provide these answers. But without question, business changes are inevitable as we negotiate a post-COVID-19 world. Present-day changes are already showing this to be the case.