As futurist keynote speakers and future trends experts, business clients have increasingly asked us to assist with efforts to innovate and adapt to COVID-19 and coronavirus-induced challenges. Here are a couple recent findings from our market research.

Topic: How to Plan for a Return to the Office

Scenario: Enterprises need to radically redesign the workplace and office to fit social distancing and safety requirements – tomorrow’s workspace will look radically different than today;s. Likewise, they also need to know how to promote employee health and safety at work, and plan or schedule around potential concerns and closures, as well as deal with workers’ concerns about returning amid a pandemic.

Insight: Beyond redesigns built to support remote working and telework, organizations will need to implement more spaced out workstations, storage lockers/private spaces where employees keep their individual items, antibacterial surfaces, contactless interaction (e.g. voice-controlled lights/thermostats), temperature-taking setups, and other adjustments.

Health-wise, from maintaining medical personnel on-site and developing backup plans in case COVID-19 cases arise to employing staggered work shifts to building in redundancy to your organization (so employees with similar skills/training can take over if someone gets sick) to using technology and online solutions to minimize contact, there are many ways to help remind workers that you’re putting their well-being first. Likewise, large employers need to be cognizant of regional guidelines, COVID-19 threat levels, and other concerns as they reopen.

Schedule-wise, you also have to ask yourself some important questions: Do you need to compress your work schedule into fewer days so hours are maintained and less days on site are required? Break workers into teams and stagger their shifts so fewer people are on-site and exposed to potential hazards at any given time? There are lots of ways to plan a work schedule beyond simply adjusting hours.

Topic: How Large Companies Can Support Small Businesses

Scenario: Enterprises need cost-affordable, agile, and adaptable solutions for meeting challenges related to COVID-19 and the new normal, just as small businesses need to find ways to partner with large organizations to better weather the storm. By working together hand-in-hand to support each other, all can thrive and succeed in the new normal.

Insight: Small businesses are often quicker on the draw, more cost-affordable, and more agile and flexible by nature – they can help your business in several areas from quickly getting remote work and safety solutions up and running to maintaining more effective cyber security measures, or even offering a better approach to catering, staffing, and other outsourced solutions. Likewise, they often provide more localized, unique, and differentiated products/services, and can help you better design boutique events, experiences, or giveaways.

Because enterprises operate at scale and play to large audiences, they often need to turn to small businesses – whether for specialized gifts to give to clients, to help design local events for a workforce that can’t travel far, or to help provide clever incentives/rewards – to get ahead. Likewise, small businesses can also be partnered with to support communities (and frontline responders) on a more grassroots scale. These types of business interactions can be profitable and helpful for all. Sometimes, you don’t need a 7,000-person consulting or event production firm to make an impression – oftentimes, a 7-person one can help you get the job done faster, quicker, and at less expense.