As we close out another year, the business world is still experiencing dramatic shifts from what was pre-pandemic. All businesses across all sectors grapple with one big challenge: to adapt to the fast-changing markets. Digital technology along with global challenges like the pandemic, climate change, and social issues among other factors, pushed major shifts in 2020 that pivoted further in 2021.

As the previous years have given most people a lot of time to reflect and ponder, many of the trends in the business world have to do with people seeking more balance and purpose in their lives, careers, and relationship with brands.

Here are some of the business trends to look out for in 2022.

1. Remote/Flexible Work

The pandemic impelled businesses and employees to rethink the way they work and consider alternatives other than being in the office. In 2022, alternative work modes like remote, hybrid, and flexible work environments will continue to thrive and will still be pursued both by companies and employees.

The past challenges lead to opening up the opportunity for the industry to rediscover work and productivity beyond office walls. In 2021, people seeking remote jobs online jumped up 460 percent, a huge upsurge that will definitely boost the number of remote workers and remote jobs in the next few years.

According to McKinsey, more than 20 percent of the workforce could work remotely three to five days a week as effectively as they could if working from an office. Therefore, this percentage of the economy will most likely opt for continual remote or flexible work arrangements. Many employers feel this will harm processes and communication for the company, but the boost in morale and ability for employees to have autonomy and flexibility generates much more productivity.

2. Virtual Services

In the past few years, people grew closer to technology more than ever. With that, there is a significant increase in the usage of virtual services.  Virtual services include things like cybersecurity, at-home fitness, food delivery, gaming, home improvement, and telemedicine businesses. These sectors grew amid the pandemic and they will further thrive as virtual services will continue to be in high demand according to the US Chamber of Commerce.

People are seeking more convenience in their lives and the ability to take advantage of such services on their own time. Additionally, many have also found time to rethink their lifestyle and are on their journey towards making changes, be it in their physical health, work-life balance, financial management and their carbon footprints, among many other things, and they find virtual service helpful for this purpose. 

3. Sustainability

As the economy is projected to re-open further, brands and companies are challenged not just to go back to normal, but to make changes that will help assure people that they will do better—hence many shifts towards sustainability.

Many consumers are calling for transparency from brands regarding their production processes. Employees are even more motivated to be with companies if they have sustainable practices and initiatives in place. With that, many businesses are making commitments to becoming more environmentally friendly and sustainable. Even major businesses are making pledges to reduce their carbon footprint. Some countries are also beginning to crack down on regulating certain industries and require more environmentally-friendly operations from businesses. This move will drive more sustainable initiatives in the coming years, encouraging more businesses to be accountable and to make efforts that will benefit the world.

4. Customer Experience

The customer experience is becoming increasingly popular. This is in part due to the fact that nearly all consumers have access to social media and can share thoughts on a brand and include reviews of their products or services at any time. This increased exposure can be wonderful if you have satisfied customers, but detrimental if your customers are not satisfied.

Growing customer demands further push the integration of digital automation across business sectors for efficiency and speed. For instance, many implement improvements or new tools to increase customer satisfaction. The utilization of solutions like CRM systems is highly ideal to allow businesses to handle all customer communications in one place and organize customer information easily.

5. Purposeful Business

Customers and employees seek businesses that have a purpose. For example, does this product bring value to their life or does the business stand for something they care about like mindful practices are reusing recycled materials. They tend to support a business that lets them support something worthwhile or contribute to a bigger movement.

Deloitte pointed out that brands with purpose will most likely thrive. Businesses who know who they are built to serve and how they want to contribute to solving social and global issues will most likely gain more loyal consumers and employees, propelling them towards growth in the future. Therefore, your business purpose should do good in some way and that purpose should be shared with your audience.

6. Collaboration

The impact of the pandemic on the way people and businesses work is significant. With that, companies innovate creative solutions to address the challenges at hand. Many businesses are turning more and more to outsourcing certain tasks or partnering with another business to combine services.

The IT outsourcing market saw significant growth in 2021, and services like banking, financial services and insurance are leading the market. There has also been a lot of collaborative brand partnerships used to boost marketing efforts. Competitiveness in business is starting to realize how valuable collaboration can be to profits. These approaches are being leveraged due to the fact that it helps save cost and boost efficiency as it eliminates a lot of tedious business processes.

7. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence is continuing to replace roles previously done by people. With further developments in the pipeline, AI technology is expected to deliver smarter outputs in 2022 to support wider use cases.  From cybersecurity to the self-driving car and AI-powered games, the possibilities for AI seems to just expand over the coming years.

AI is being used to increase efficiency and provide more useful insights and data than businesses have ever had before. It powers automation, which is becoming a focal point for many businesses as they seek to increase productivity and save on workforce costs.

Be Future-Proof on 2022

The pandemic seems to be more under control now with vaccines rolled out, lockdowns are not strictly imposed on many countries and many are returning to their workplaces.  As the world hopes for the COVID-19 crisis to come to an end, the best thing a business can do is to brace yourself for yet another year of shifts, changes and challenges. Take this new year as a new opportunity for recovery, innovation, growth and making a positive impact.