How Lockdown Has Changed Business Networking

Of all the changes lockdown has introduced in our lives, it looks as though our new working routines could be the most permanent.

The success that many businesses have experienced during lockdown have led to whispers of the death of the office, but as we enter into a new era for remote working, what consequences will this have on business networking and communication?

This article examines the way that companies have adapted their communication during the current crisis, and what impact this could have on the way they operate in the future.

How businesses communicate with customers

The rapid shift towards online trading has never moved so quickly as in the last six months. With businesses forced to adapt almost instantly, those which had not previously relied on tactics such as social media campaigns and online marketing, let alone any form of online selling, were suddenly thrust into an unfamiliar digital world.

But plenty of companies rose to the challenge quickly, and March 2020 alone saw a 29% increase in social media spending as consumers spent more time at home – and online – than ever.

The indispensable nature of this tool does not look set to change in the future, but businesses must also remember that the world of social media marketing is a double-edged sword – one that must be approached tactfully, particularly in times of crisis.

How businesses communicate internally

The demise of the office environment – at least for now – has presented new and immediate challenges for companies when it comes to communication. But could absence from the traditional workplace stunt collaboration, or can it foster creative thinking?

Certainly, the tools are there. Video-calling apps like Zoom and Microsoft Teams have become ubiquitous in the last few months. And with instant messaging capabilities, it seems logical that ideas can be discussed and developed in face-to-face conversation much like before.

But has this cost businesses the spontaneity of the ‘water-cooler effect’ – ideas and solutions that derive from non-work-related conversations that take place in the office?

With strong employee relationships, this doesn’t have to be the case. In fact, many businesses have found success in virtual team-building activities which have strengthened employee relationships whilst working remotely.

Inter-business connectivity

Real-world networking events have been entirely on hold during the pandemic, although some virtual events have appeared via Zoom conferences, enabling professionals, businesses and experts to connect with one another.

And moving forward into the future, it seems that business hubs like Arise Innovation may have the ultimate solution in combining real-world interaction with digital flexibility. With physical premises that offer access to professional and academic expertise as well as virtual office opportunities, theirs could be the ideal support for offices in the future which are not yet ready to go 100% remote, but benefit from the flexibility of working from home.

2020 has seen countless changes to the way that businesses operate. But could some of these adaptations become permanent additions to working practices?

How has lockdown changed business networking for you? Let us know in the comments below.