There’s no doubt that the global pandemic has forced most businesses to rapidly adapt to new ways of working. When the Government announced that employees should be working from home unless absolutely necessary, it made many business owners and leaders seriously consider how agile their business models were.
If working from home was not usually an option, it was necessary for businesses to make it happen in an extremely short space of time. This was a big logistical and financial challenge for lots of companies.
The Coronavirus outbreak gave many organisations no option but to address and upgrade technology features in their businesses which in some cases, will change the way they do things in the long term.
Let’s explore some examples of this, from a Motor Trade perspective.
- Working from home
As mentioned, one of the biggest changes the marketplace had to adapt to was enabling employees to work from home where possible. For most roles in the motor trade, this is unheard of and unfeasible after all, a mechanic can’t fix vehicles remotely, nor can MOTs be carried out over video conferencing. However, there are examples of where it is possible and has proven to have certain efficiencies. Sales Managers, Fleet Controllers and Aftersales Executives are all roles that can be completed from home providing the right measures are put in place to make it possible. Without the distraction of a busy dealership, it’s also possible that employees in these roles can be more productive working remotely so perhaps there will be more flexibility in the future.
- Cloud software
Part of working remotely involves having access to company databases and software. Many businesses, including those in the motor trade are guilty of having outdated systems that cannot be accessed from home. Furthermore, many businesses do not have the technical infrastructure such as laptops to provide employees to work from home. Upgrading software, granting access, obtaining laptops, headsets and other vital equipment costs time and money. This would not have been an option for all businesses given the circumstances and may have resulted in some serious decision making as to whether they could continue operating at this time. It has been a stark wake up call for businesses to see where they need to make improvements with technology for the future.
- Video Interviews and Conferencing
With more people working from home, the use of video and conferencing has become part of daily life for many. Video calls have replaced team meetings and have even become a solution for team tea breaks. Video meetings tend to much more productive than group face-to-face one’s not lease because many platforms have a 40-60-minute time limit meaning participants need to stay focused. Video has also become a replacement for face-to-face interviews. Lots of businesses may have considered video interviewing in the past but have now been pushed into adopting it for the time being. When thinking to the future and protecting the planet in particular, video interviewing might become a permanent replacement for businesses as it saves candidates travelling unnecessarily.
- Online learning
Many businesses are embracing the down time and using it to upskill their employees online. With a huge variety of topics relating to a diverse range of industries and job roles, there is an online course to suit everyone. In normal circumstances, taking a team away from their duties to train them means lots of planning and managing of resources so is often put to the back burner. With lots of industries seeing a reduction in demand and facing lesser workloads, now is the perfect opportunity to invest in training your teams. Not only does this mean they’ll be using their time productively, it will also boost morale and motivation giving them something to focus on.
- Virtual reality
Some Automotive manufacturers have utilised virtual reality to showcase their latest vehicle releases. Augmented Reality means customers can get a SD visualisation of vehicle interiors and exteriors, explore different specifications and configure different models of the vehicle as well as having a virtual demonstration of driving the vehicle. This incredible use of technology is likely to become the norm in the not too distant future. Hyundai recently launched a unique augmented reality automotive sales tool which enables staff to scan a vehicle using an iPad and then give an interactive demonstration with key features of that car that would be difficult to otherwise see.
Technology has definitely risen in priority for businesses during the Coronavirus lockdown and has enabled many teams to be creative in their approach to their colleagues and customers. Whilst it’s uncertain how long this pandemic will go on for, one thing is for certain is that in order to be an agile, modern workforce, technology will play a major part.