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How COVID Affected Organizational Business Structures

While the global COVID-19 pandemic is primarily a health crisis, its significant impact on the future of work is undeniable. By forcing businesses to adopt new technologies and innovate in ways that seemed unimaginable before 2020, the pandemic is expected to have a long-term impact on organizational structure for businesses across every industry.

Some of the changes that companies made out of necessity, including a shift to work-from-home remote jobs, have continued even as the threat of the pandemic has receded. Companies also accelerated the digital transformation of their operations to keep up with a shift in consumer behavior that includes more online shopping and buying.

Teaching the pandemic-driven evolution of organizational structures and the future of work are essential components of online Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) and online Master of Business Administration (MBA) programs.

Ways the Pandemic Impacted Organizational Structures

COVID-19 had a significant long-term and short-term impact on business. The pandemic forced companies to adapt to unprecedented challenges quickly. Some of these changes are likely the “new normal.”

A Shift to Remote Work

Arguably the most significant shift involved the widespread adoption of remote work. Many companies pivoted to a work-from-home model that maintained business operations and ensured employee safety. Many employees experienced no decline in productivity or, in some cases, an increase. The success of remote work has led many organizations to make work-from-home and hybrid work models a permanent company policy.

Accelerated Digital Transformation

Companies accelerated digital transformation in many ways. Technology enabled operational remote work models for employees. Tech tools allow companies to adapt to changing consumer behavior, which started before 2020 but has become widespread with the pandemic’s onset. This shift has led to increased use of virtual meeting software, e-commerce platforms, and cloud-based computing services.

Adopting New Business Models

For many companies, the arrival of COVID-19 in the US and the following lockdowns created an immediate need to “adapt or die.” As part of the digital transformation, companies shifted to online models allowing them to interact safely with consumers. Examples exist in every industry, from grocery stores offering “contactless” delivery to telehealth services in healthcare.

Management and the Future of Work

No area has experienced more changes than management. In some cases, the pandemic completely changed organizational structures, leaving managers who failed to change behind.

“There’s a fair number of leaders who are hoping this is transitory and that all of their employees are going to come back,” Bill Schaninger, a senior partner at McKinsey & Co., said on the McKinsey Talks Talent podcast. “There’s a fair number of folks who’ve been at the tail end of their leadership career who walk out of their office and see an empty sea of cubes and say, “Where did all my people go?”

Schaninger said he expects no return to how companies operated before the pandemic. He said there’s an opportunity for organizations to “speed up” the transition to a new generation of managers who understand and can better oversee remote employees, teamwork, and collaboration.

Elements of the Future of Work

Most thought leaders in organizational structure and the design of work environments typically agree on specific elements that will come into play across most industries in the future of work.

Remote work. There’s no going back. Now that employees in many jobs realize they can be just as productive (perhaps more productive) working remotely, they will continue to seek jobs that allow them to do so. This can also save companies money in maintaining large offices. Time magazine cites a study that found that 18 percent of all full-time employees in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States no longer go to the office.  

Upskilling. Workers must continuously learn new skills, including working with the latest technology. Doing so allows them to remain relevant in a rapidly evolving job market.

Artificial intelligence. AI-driven software systems will allow humans to focus on more creative and complex tasks. However, they must develop the skills to work alongside robots and AI systems.

Diversity. As consumer and workforce demographics change and become more diverse, the most visionary organizations will continue to diversify their workforce, including putting more women and people from underrepresented minorities into positions of authority.

Flexibility. Flexibility is fundamental to the future of work, including work arrangements, scheduling, and more fluid job roles that give organizations greater adaptability and agility.

Sustainability. More organizations also focus on sustainability, including environmental and social responsibility. This includes efforts to reduce waste and carbon emissions and support diversity and inclusion in the workplace.

TUW Business Administration Programs

Touro University Worldwide prepares students for success in these critical areas with online programs designed for working adults. These high-quality programs allow professionals to pursue a degree while maintaining work and personal responsibilities.

In addition to the BSBA and MBA programs, TUW offers an online Doctor of Business Administration degree that develops state-of-the-art executive leadership skills.

In all three programs, students learn to manage organizational structures in an evolving post-pandemic environment. It’s an education that will serve them well in the diverse, tech-driven workplace environments, now and in the future.

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