For most, using a computer is second nature. As more and more of the workforce is comprised of people who have grown up in the digital age, it can be hard to imagine a time when only companies at the cutting-edge of technology were operating online.
However, although there are very few professional roles where computers aren’t a major part of day-to-day life, not every business is truly “digital”. They might use digital databases to keep track of stock, or have online ordering systems, but there are still plenty of opportunities they aren’t taking advantage of in the online world of modern business.
In this article, we’ll look at how embracing digital business more comprehensively can benefit both companies and employees.
“Working from home” has become a lot more commonplace recently, largely due to the global pandemic. As offices became too risky, many were encouraged to work remotely. And although it was a forced change, a lot of businesses and employees saw benefits to the new-found flexibility.
For one, it offered a glimpse of a better work/life balance for workers. With a sharp reduction in commuting time, people found they had more time on their hands to be with their families or to relax. As lockdown eased, and more and more leisure options opened back up, this free time was even more valuable.
This positive impact on mental health also had the added benefit of helping with motivation whilst at work, so much so that many businesses are considering keeping a flexible or “hybrid” work model in place even though it is currently safer than before for workers to return to their offices.
All of this is thanks to improvements in digital communication, an area that is only going to improve as more and more people continue to work remotely. Embracing this flexibility should only bring benefits to businesses in terms of both efficiency and staff health and well-being.
Another benefit of more remote working is the impact on costs. As the need for office space to accommodate all members of staff at all times reduces, so does the need to pay for office space. A permanent location big enough to house some staff may always be necessary, but the option to cut the size of that space to save on rent or energy costs is always a positive.
There are also businesses that forego office space altogether, choosing to run 100% digitally. For example, online conferencing company Hopin, recently valued at over $4 billion, does not have any office space. That is a huge amount saved that can in turn be spent on other areas of the business.
That is an extreme example, but even small shifts into the digital world can help. For example, as the ability to send large digital files via email or data transfer websites gets easier, the need for printing declines, which is not only another way to reduce costs, but is also an environmental win too.
As well as internal benefits, businesses embracing a bigger move into the digital space can also potentially see many external advantages. For one, moving online can remove a lot of barriers for customers.
No longer limited by their immediate geography, customers both nationally and internationally can start finding businesses they might otherwise never have come across. This can open up new revenue streams, and potentially help businesses to grow faster. Although it came about because of difficult circumstances, just look at all the restaurants that switched to takeaway delivery via Deliveroo when the pandemic started as a great example of this adaptation.
This will all depend, however, on the digital platform the business chooses. Finding the right method to meet those potential new customers will be vital – will the business benefit more from going through established channels, like social media, Amazon or eBay, or by going it alone via their own website? This is where people with expertise in digital business will be needed to identify the right moves to make.
There is perhaps no better reasoning for embracing the growing world of digital business than future proofing. It is a harsh reality, but businesses who were better able to switch to doing more day-to-day business online coped better with the pandemic than those who weren’t.
And keeping up with the times is a natural part of business. Companies aren’t using typewriters now that laptops exists, so why should they hold on to other notions about “how business is done”? Any business that does refuse to modernise runs the risk of being left behind, particularly as digital innovations are happening more and more frequently and rapidly.