Why It’s Beneficial To Work With Local Suppliers In Business

When it comes to local suppliers, it can be helpful to support those as a business, rather than opting for those that are bigger and have a lot more prominence across the country or world. It’s important to support your local businesses and suppliers where you can for many reasons. Here’s why it’s beneficial to work with local suppliers in the business.

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It Helps Out Your Local Economy

When you’re using a local supplier, you are effectively helping out your local economy and supporting that is a good thing for your business. You are part of that economy, and if more independent suppliers or business go under and that is local to you, it could affect your market in terms of the customers or clients that you have near to you. The more you can give back to your local community, the better, and that can start with spending money with those that operate near you. You can find a lot of online tenders, so when you start looking, try to expand your net in the local area first, rather than going too far out. It’s going to help bring a bit more recognition to those companies that won’t otherwise get much of a look in.

Better Relationships

Bettering your relationships can definitely be helpful when it comes to anyone you work with in business. Whether that’s strengthening those relationships with your clients or finding the time to meet up with your suppliers. When they are local to you, it makes that a lot easier than those that might be located at the other end of the country. At least with local suppliers, you are likely to have the luxury of being able to meet up with them over work dinners and take advantage of what the relationship can offer for you and the supplier.

Good For The Environment

Local suppliers are good for the environment, why? Well, if you’re a retail store for example, and you get your suppliers locally, they won’t need to travel so much to fulfill the service they’re providing for you. That means that you can take advantage of having a fast service provided and know that you’re not affecting the environment to the extent that a lot of businesses can do. Being more conscious on the environment and our carbon footprint is important, so a great benefit to using local suppliers.

It Can Give You More Control

Having more control over your business can be important, especially when you start outsourcing your tasks and responsibilities beyond the business itself. With local suppliers, you’ve got the benefit of having your supplies at a closer viewpoint, and you can likely have a lot more input by physically visiting your suppliers on a regular basis.

Local suppliers are always going to need the support of business, whether they’re small or big companies. When you help out the small, independent suppliers, you help your economy grow and give everyone a fairer chance at success with their aspirations.

How to Impress at Future Business Networking Events

Right now, the Covid-19 pandemic means that business networking events, quite rightly, are off the table. But that won’t always be the case. If you’ve struggled with succeeding at networking events in the past, we’ve got some advice to ensure you get it right when you next get the opportunity to network. Now is the perfect time to hone your skills so you can come back stronger than ever. Find out how to get this right below.

Have a Goal Going In

Before you even step into the networking event, you should have a goal in mind for what you want to achieve. Having goals that you can work towards during the event gives you real focus and direction. When you’re lacking those things, it’s easy to come out of the event having achieved nothing useful. The goals you set will, of course, depend on your reason for attending the networking event in the first place.

Listen Before You Speak

This is one of the things that people do often get wrong. But when you’re at a business networking event, you can’t expect it to all be about you. You need to listen before you speak because this will show people that you actually want to engage and that you’re not simply there to push your agenda onto people. Always take the time to listen and be receptive to what you hear.

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Get to the Point

When you’re looking to get a message across to people, the last thing you want to do is bore them. That’s why you need to avoid the temptation to ramble too much because that will be disastrous for you. Instead, you need to get to the point and be as succinct as you possibly can be. It’s something that people will appreciate and it’ll be more effective for you too. People want to hear the stuff that actually matters.

Dress Right

If you’re going to impress at business and networking events, you also need to look the part. You should wear the right outfit and don’t forget the details either because they matter too. Things like custom cufflinks, the right tie or suitable jewellery will all make a difference and help to bring your professional outfit together. How you present yourself will have a big impact on forest impressions.

Bring Business Cards

Finally, you should remember to take something with you that the people you talk to can take away with you. Bring business cards with you and make sure they provide the details people will need if they want to get in touch or find out more about you in the future. It’s a good way of ensuring they don’t just forget about you once the event is over.

Networking is one of the most important parts of getting your business’s name out there and getting it noticed by the right people. When the world gets back to normal and networking becomes a possibility again, be sure to make use of the tips and advice outlined above.

Crowd Control Is Now The Number One Priority For Pandemic-Stricken Businesses

Before the virus hit, companies had subtle ways of controlling crowds of customers flowing in and out of their premises. Businesses used turnstiles and other subtle cues to direct the motion of traffic. But given the current public health concerns, firms are having to rethink people management completely.

We’ve already seen significant changes in the retail sector. Firms are doubling down on social distancing, limiting the number of customers who can enter the store at any given time. And assistants are moving around busily sanitizing everything that customers touch, trying to make it safe for the next person queuing outside.

We’ve also seen an explosion in the number of executives looking for things like bollard installation tips. Firms need methods to control access to their properties and accommodate traffic. Those offering click and collect, for instance, need bollards to protect staff and buildings. And businesses that have had to abandon their premises need them for threats like squatting.

Companies are also having to dramatically rethink the commute because of the risks of public transport. Some firms need commuters to show up to work. Skyping once or twice a day just isn’t sufficient to keep the wheels of industry turning. We are, therefore, seeing firms implement staggered commuting models. Here they allocate workers’ shift slots, designed to help people avoid rush hour’s most dangerous times. Workers are getting to the office at midday and then leaving at 8 pm. Or they’re arriving at 6 am and leaving at 2 pm.

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Controlling crowds was never a significant part of doing business. But companies are starting to realize just how important it has become for their long-term survival. Losing people to COVID-19 is not an option. Firms need healthy workers, able to stick it out long-term. The last thing they want is the death of a colleague on their hands, especially if they would have remained safe by staying at home.

Bosses, though, have never experienced anything like this before. Leaders aren’t used to operating in an environment in which the very act of turning up to work could be making the pandemic worse. Fortunately, the number of infected people is going down, but management is by no means expert in tackling this issue. Time and again, we’ve seen companies refuse to open up their premises because of the risk to their colleagues. Despite the costs, it is cheaper to keep workers at home than to risk possible infection.

Crowd control will, therefore, become increasingly important to businesses. We could see changes across the board, from the removal of elevator buttons to staggered shift patterns. Offices are also going to do a better job of cleaning, buying in third-party services that really understand how to fight the virus. And people in the events industry will need to work hard to allay the fears of attendees and get everyone working together.

Recovering from this pandemic isn’t going to be easy for the business sector. Companies are going to have to consider the risk of transmission whenever they embark on a new initiative or even reopen their workspaces. With a little strategizing, though, it’s manageable.

5 Ways to Boost Productivity in Business

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Time is money, so productivity in business is everything. You want to be making the absolute most of the time that you have each day to be earning the highest amount of profits possible. Here are five ways you can go about it.

Use modern software

Business software allows you to be fast, efficient and as productive as possible. In some cases, it can completely automate areas of your business which can save you time and money. Manual methods such as paper filing and backing up to hard drives could be putting your business at risk, so make sure you’re moving with the times.

Keep your staff happy

You need the right staff for your business; those who are dedicated and care about the success of your company will work hard for you and ensure everything stays as efficient and productive as possible. When you own a business, you’re responsible for taking care of your employees. One way you might be making them miserable without even realising is with your office. Make sure it’s a pleasant space to work in, you could have full Victorian renovations completed to match with the building, or just give everywhere a fresh coat of paint. Offices can easily become too stuffy in summer and too chilly in winter to work comfortably- and so this is something to pay attention to as well. Natural light is a mood booster, and so the simple act of rearranging your office so that desks are close to windows can make a big difference. Boosted mood means happier workers and better productivity.

Outsource when you need to

Outsourcing isn’t just something that larger businesses can take advantage of, it’s also useful for smaller companies too. In fact, it’s even more valuable if your team is smaller, as it frees up more time from employees allowing them to work the jobs where they’re needed most. They can utilise the skills they have, instead of tackling jobs that are out of their depth. It will help with productivity in the long run.

Keep on learning

As a company owner you need to be constantly learning, ahead of the game and able to adapt your business when needed to fit the market and what consumers want. If you already have a business degree or qualification you could build on this. Whether it’s another degree, a masters or just a number of shorter courses these can all give you some really useful knowledge. Since you can study online these days, it’s something you can do around running your business, from home in your spare time.

Don’t spread yourself too thin

Trying to do everything could well mean that all tasks aren’t being done to the best standard. You have to learn to delegate, if you have employees then that means entrusting them with certain tasks. There are so many options available when it comes to managing different areas of your business these days that you don’t need to be juggling every job and department alone.

10 Ways You Should Manage and Engage Remote Employees For Maximum Impact

Working with remote employees can be an incredible way to save on overhead costs, equipment, time, and so much more. It’s one of the most viable and smart solutions for 2020 and beyond – but you can’t simply hire the remote workers and expect them to get on with it like worker bees. You need to make sure you’re managing the remote team properly, and that you’re keeping them engaged for maximum impact.

Below, you’ll find 10 ways you should manage and engage your employees for maximum impact:

  1. Offer A Variety Of Tools To Keep Everybody In The Loop

Start by making sure you offer a variety of cloud based project management tools so that everybody can stay in the loop without issues. You should host web meetings, use collaboration tools, and go the extra mile to make sure everybody is on the same page.

  1. Address Feelings of Isolation

One of the biggest issues when it comes to keeping your remote team engaged is the fact that many of them can end up feeling isolated. Conversations and meeting by video can help slightly, but that won’t be the end of it. There’s nothing worse than feeling isolated and disconnected – especially when a little can go a long way when it comes to work.

It might not seem like something that is your responsibility, but if you care about your remote workers, you should care about their mental health. You must address remote worker’s social needs to keep them from feeling too lonely.

Provide a combination of work and fun by having occasional team meetings in person. Keeping people connected online, day to day is important, but there’s nothing quite like bringing them together in person!

  1. Support Self Management

Unless a person is extremely focused and organized, it can be nigh on impossible for them to get anything done with the sheer number of distractions in and around the house.

It’s entirely different than having to work alongside co-workers who are also working.

Environment matters when it comes to productivity – it matters more than most realize, until they try to start working in their home environment and realize how taxing it is. Offering training in time management and prioritization can be a huge help, and shows you care about your remote team’s mental health as well as giving them a hand with their workload.

Managers must then support employees in order to put what they have learned into practice. Don’t just put them on the course and then leave them to their own devices. This sort of training and support can be invaluable if you want to ensure maximum impact with your remote workers!

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  1. Come Up With New Ways To Measure The Productivity Of Your Team

Many people are motivated when they feel confident that they are doing a good job, but it is much harder to gain feedback when you are working remotely, and therefore much harder to get motivated.

The issue here is that it can be difficult to measure ‘good’ for remote workers. A lot of standard productivity measures include physical presence, such as coming to work on time and being responsive to in person requests. Non face-time measures of productivity, such as the percentage of tasks completed on time and increases in productivity can be a help when measuring productivity of your remote team. Doing this will be absolutely essential to morale and reassuring your team that they are doing a good job. It’ll also give you insight on how to improve in the long term.

  1. Build A Rapport With Your Remote Team

Building a genuine rapport with your remote team can work wonders for productivity. Many remote workers can feel left out – whether that’s left out of celebrations, perks, promotions, or something else. Your remote team is also missing out on many opportunities to connect with colleagues and managers. Many also feel like management just doesn’t hear them like they do the in-house team.

Build a rapport by checking in with your remote team, learning about them, and trying to get them involved in various ways. Go the extra mile, and don’t just forget about them because you don’t have to face them every day!

  1. Make Time For One On Ones

Making time for one on ones with your remote employees can help you to ask questions and delve into issues that they may have. They probably don’t have anybody to talk about this with, so it can be a big help! You may not need to take this kind of measure when hiring professional virtual services, but if you’re hiring a remote freelancer or contractor like you would any other employee, you should make time for this.

To understand your remote team better and do better by them, you can ask questions like the following:

  • What does your daily routine look like?

  • What is your favorite part of working remotely?

  • Do you feel included:

  • Do you wish you had more in-person meetings, less in-person meetings, or are you happy with the amount of in-person meetings?

  • How are our tools working for you?

  • How could we better support you?

  • Do you need anything to help with your workspace set up?

  1. Use Animated Gifs and Emoticons in Your Messages

Much of the conversation you will have with your remote team is non verbal, and this can make it difficult to convey how you truly feel about something. Words could come across more aggressive, or perhaps not as impactful as you mean them.

Finding the perfect gif might seem silly, but it can really let the person receiving the message know the intent. You’ll often get a much better response, too!

  1. Don’t Forget About Their Career Paths 

Your remote employees have career goals of their own, too. Understanding their goals and career aspirations will help to avoid confusion and frustration. You can talk more about their career development in their one to ones together.

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  1. Send Gifts

Gifts and bonuses can be a wonderful treat to receive. Your in-house team probably takes freebies for granted, so share some of the love with your remote workers!

  1. Have A Budget For Home Offices

Perhaps you could generously buy high quality office supplies, or even give your remote team their own standing desk for their home office. The money you spend on your remote team’s workspace will make them happier and more effective at their jobs.

From Surviving To Thriving: Advice For Business Owners Affected By The Coronavirus Crisis

The Coronavirus pandemic has turned the world on its head. At the start of the year, nobody could have predicted what would unfold in the months to follow. For business owners, it has been a terrifying time, but there are signs of green shoots appearing. If you’ve been putting all your effort into surviving the crisis, here are some tips to help you start thriving and building for the future.

The advantages of remote working

Over the last few months, millions of people all over the world have been working from home, with offices, stores, call centers, healthcare practices and banks closed. While remote working might not be ideally suited to your workforce, it’s highly likely that every business will be able to take something positive out of being able to adapt to a new way of working. Many employees might have enjoyed spending more time at home and having more control over their schedule, and being apart physically might have actually strengthened ties. Virtual meetings, email and instant messaging make it possible for employees and employers to stay in touch, to work through tasks together and to communicate with clients and customers around the clock. For employers, it may be possible to adopt some measures in the future to save money on expenses and to provide employees with the choice to work remotely more frequently.

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Capitalizing on the benefits of online business

The Internet has provided a lifeline for businesses during the pandemic, with many able to continue selling and promoting services via online ordering and digital marketing techniques. Even if you’ve never sold products online before, you can benefit from the popularity of the Internet and increased web use. You can use social media to communicate with customers and showcase products, you can use blog posts and informative content to up-sell services and improve SEO, and you can offer clients the chance to order products that they can collect or have delivered to their doorstep. If you don’t have a brilliant website, or you’re not experienced in SEO and PPC, it’s beneficial to work with an agency that can help you create and convert leads and generate traffic. Before you sign any contracts or pay out for services, browse portfolios, research and read testimonials and articles like this Supple review and sit down and discuss the project in detail. You want to hire experts who can offer a personalized service to help you achieve your objectives and goals.

Diversifying services and identifying opportunities

Almost every business has been forced to make alterations as a result of the global lockdown. While many companies have been hit hard, some have benefited from an upturn in demand for specific products and new opportunities brought about by changing consumer trends. Personal trainers are an excellent example. While gyms may not have been open for several weeks, many trainers have maintained a healthy income by diversifying their services and offering different options. Rather than inviting clients to a studio or a sports center, trainers have hosted one-to-one sessions online and offered customers the chance to work out at home by following online training programs or signing up for virtual classes. Some companies have switched to manufacturing products that are sought-after, for example, hand sanitizer, while others are taking advantage of people spending more time at home. Online courses, for example, have become increasingly popular during the crisis.

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The pandemic has affected the vast majority of businesses. If you’ve managed to survive, now is the time to focus on thriving.

Changing The Way You Do Business: How Covid-19 Has Reshaped Companies

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When the pandemic hit, many businesses had to go into crisis mode to try and save their company. With consumers’ needs changing almost overnight and supply chains becoming broken, business owners had to sit down with their teams and make some tough decisions.

One of the most immediate changes was in staffing. Many of us were asked to stay at home, and this meant workers simply couldn’t come into the office anymore. However, the digital era meant that many employees were able to keep their jobs and continue to work from their homes. The success of this has resulted in many companies realising that remote working is now more possible than ever. Which could help employees to improve their work-life balance and also may lead to less office space being needed, this, in turn, could reduce the outgoings of a business. A team that can work efficiently at home may save you money in the long run. You’ll also be able to access talent from across the world and have confidence in your remote working system.

Many businesses had to close their doors and start making a shift to e-commerce. While this has been happening for several years, the start of the pandemic forced many companies to ramp up their online sales or take their services completely digital. While there were a few teething problems for some, the increase in e-commerce activity during the first few months of quarantine was huge. Restaurants have diversified and used their buying power with suppliers to bring the consumer products that they couldn’t get hold of in supermarkets—teaming up with couriers to deliver recipe boxes or supplies to customers homes. This has opened up a new revenue stream to many cafes and eateries, which is bound to stay when they can reopen.

For high street clothing brands, there has also been a considerable increase in online sales, and some companies have even decided that they won’t reopen their doors. The cost of running a warehouse and packing facility for e-commerce sales, alongside the cost of running a shop on the high street seems uneconomical when the consumer has got used to buying everything online. It is possible that even when the stay at home orders are lifted, the consumer won’t be in a rush to get back to our high streets. Until there is a specific vaccine for COVID-19 businesses will probably see far fewer people coming through their doors and online activity staying high, if not getting higher.

Priorities and spending habits of the consumer have definitely changed over the last few months, and in the future, there will be a return to normal life. However, the consumer has undoubtedly discovered that they can rely on the digital world to make their lives more efficient and to save them trips that they don’t necessarily need to be taking. This will give people more time with their loved ones and after the pandemic, time with the people we love is going to be more precious than ever.

Important Health And Safety Tips For New Construction Businesses

The construction industry is a great area to get into but there are some big challenges to overcome. When you are starting your construction business, it’s important that you prioritize health and safety. There is a lot of legislation in place and if you don’t comply with the law, you could end up with injuries on-site, and some big fines from the health and safety inspector. If you are just getting started in the construction industry, here are a few ways to improve health and safety on site.

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Provide The Right Protective Gear

Wearing the right protective equipment is so important on a construction site, and it’s down to you to provide it. Invest in some good quality workwear, like Dickies pants and boots. You also need specific PPE, like hard hats, goggles and gloves etc. When you are purchasing PPE for your workers, don’t go for the cheap option because there is a chance that it won’t be in line with regulations and it won’t offer adequate protection. If you are not willing to invest in your employee’s safety, you shouldn’t be starting a construction company in the first place. Once you have all of the right protective gear, you need to make sure that everybody is wearing it at all times.

Provide The Right Training

Training is key to maintaining health and safety on the work site. When you bring new employees on board, you need to give them a full health and safety briefing, even if they are experienced. Whenever you invest in new equipment, you need to give people a refresher and provide specific training on the safe operation of that machinery. Don’t assume that it will be fine because it is similar to equipment that they have used in the past because small differences can lead to dangerous operation.

It’s important that you provide regular training to all employees, not just new ones. People fall into bad habits over time and they forget about health and safety rules, so a refresher every now and again is always useful.

Keep Up With Equipment Maintenance

Maintaining machinery and tools properly is vital if you want to keep your employees safe. Faulty equipment is more likely to malfunction and cause dangerous situations, but this can be avoided if you stay on top of basic maintenance. Check all equipment regularly and use lubricants on working parts to prevent issues in future. If you do notice small problems, fix them right away before the equipment becomes dangerous.

Use Clear Signs

Signs are a simple but effective health and safety tool on a construction site, and they help to protect the public as well as your own workers. Put up signs at the entrance reminding everybody to wear their PPE, and always put signs on equipment to remind people how to operate them safely. Constant reminders of the dangers will encourage people to follow health and safety guidelines to the letter.

Health and safety are vital in the construction industry, and as long as you follow these simple tips, you can ensure that your employees are always safe.

How To Support Your Employees During Unprecedented Times

For a lot of employees at the moment, a lot of their priorities and worries will be around their health, and the health of their loved ones. We are getting ever-changing information, as the situation is constantly changing, and the advice we are given changes. It can be an anxious time as an employee, wondering how you’ll get your job done, and even if you’ll have a job at the end of this, as well as for employers, holding similar concerns.

As an employer, there can be a lot of stress as you think about how you are going to work things now. Will there be enough custom to keep your business going? Not only that, but how can you make sure that your employees are taken care of? They will have a lot on their minds, and having extra stress from an employer is not where you will want to be. So here are some things that you can do to help your employees at the moment, as well as for reference in future unprecedented times.

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Virtual Doctors

One tool that can be used by employers for their teams, is to think about using virtual doctors for your staff. These aren’t new, but understandably, are growing more and more in popularity. Including them in an employee benefit package can be a good idea. Then they can speak to a doctor over the phone, or using a video call, to be able to get a prescription or a diagnosis, as required. Some Private Medical Insurance schemes may include something like this already, so that is worth looking into.

Liability Insurance

As a business, having insurance is something that is vital. But at a time like this, where you may have to make staff redundant, and may face other issues, it is going to be more important than ever to speak to insurance brokers. You wouldn’t want to get sued at a time like this, especially by employees for wrongful dismissal, for example. So having liability insurance is important. These times are unprecedented, so it helps to make sure that you are covered for anything that could happen.

Mental Health solutions

The mental health of our employees is important, as it can be a factor in determining to what extent our team will be able to work. This should be a normal concern. However, at times like this, when things are much more stressful and uncertain, compared to normal, this is a factor that should be of greater concern to you.

Some employees may have enjoyed the idea of working from home. But others, with children and other commitments, may have been finding the process stressful and difficult. The novelty could certainly be wearing off, especially if they are shielding or self-isolating and cannot go out and about as normal. By offering your employees some practical ways to help them to look after their mental health, it can be a huge benefit to them, as well as the business.

There are a number of online resources that you could work from, such as the resources from Mind. Not only that, if you are part of an Employee Assistance Programme (EAP), or make this available to your employees, then it is a good time to make the most of it, and remind employees about what is on offer with this service. One important point to note is that EAPs are sometimes included within other health policies or insurance, as an added extra, so you may already have access to one.

Open Communication

As a business and someone who hires people, it is important to remain committed to supporting our customers, but your team too. Without them, the business wouldn’t be able to grow and do all that it needs to. That is why having open and clear understanding with your staff at times like these is important. So keep communication open, and it can help you to all know where you are at. Catch up with your team as often as is possible, and keep updated. Honor certain holidays where they would normally have the day off, as well as any time that they have booked off. It helps them to be able to keep going, not burnout, and at the end of the day, be the best employees that they can be.

How has your business been impacted by the global pandemic? How are your team being impacted with working from home and modifying how they do things? It would be interesting to hear your thoughts on this matter.

Pandemics Threaten Business, But They Could Also Make It More Efficient

Back in 2006, Jeffrey Staples wrote in the Harvard Business Review that pandemics were the single greatest threat to business continuity. His words came on the back of various bird flu and coronavirus that shook the Far East in the run-up to the financial crisis. But despite the very real evidence that epidemics were already underway around the world, the business community didn’t listen. In the west, the idea of a disease outbreak of the magnitude of the nineteenth century just seemed hopeless anachronistic. We live in the modern age of medicine and hygiene. How could a disease possibly derail business?

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In the intervening years, companies built their business models without a single thought to concepts such as physical proximity. Who cared if customers were packed together on aircraft or stuffed, cheek by jowl in fast-food restaurants? It didn’t make the slightest bit of difference.

Of course, now we know better. Staples was right. Pandemics are the biggest single threat to business continuity. Companies that assumed that physical proximity was necessary found themselves amid a rude awakening in March 2020.

All is not lost, though. The pandemic has rip sawed through the economy, but it hasn’t merely left destruction in its wake. Instead, it has revealed to companies that there are cheaper and more efficient ways of doing business. And many, including famous names like Facebook, will never return to the old way of doing things.

Growth is coming thick and fast to any company involved in the storage and distribution of goods. With the brick-and-mortar store model appearing increasingly dangerous, we’re seeing a shift to online delivery models and the need for additional warehousing. Companies are also investigating the concept of designing a self storage facility that allows them to be more flexible in their operations. When pandemics are raging, they can store away any goods no longer required. And then, when the event is over, they can retrieve and redeploy them rapidly without worrying about looting or other threats.

Anyone involved with the cloud and IT is also in for a treat. New work-from-home realities mean that the old office model probably isn’t coming back. Bosses now realize that the costs simply aren’t worth it, and it makes a lot more sense to get people working remotely, communicating via chat apps. The surge in the need for cloud services is reaching an all-time high. And as the broader economy adapts and adjusts to new realities, demand will continue to peak.

The pandemic, therefore, could make the economy more efficient, ironically boosting material standards of living. No longer do companies have to compensate workers for their commute implicitly. And no longer do individuals have to spend vast chunks of their day traveling. All that time and resources can now go back into the production process itself. And that can only be a good thing.

So yes, pandemics are the greatest continuity threat. But that’s okay in a world that desperately needs change to move forward and evolve. The logic seems odd, but it works.