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Addressing the Stress of Uncertainty

The pandemic-marked shift in how and where people work is just the latest tectonic market change business owners have to contend with, but there are ways to effectively guide teams through these changes.

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Marketplace uncertainties are a fact of life, as is their propensity for keeping investors up at night. What’s truly new these days, however, is the monumental shift in how and where people work. Given the explosion in ecommerce sales, parts of the technology sector did well during the pandemic, while other industries (hospitality among them) are still recovering as the boundaries of uncertainty continue blurring.

Software development to the (partial) rescue

Even among sectors hard hit recently, there have been remarkable adaptations. Principally because of software developments at the smartphone app level, many restaurants, for example, saw profits increase. Indeed, some fast-food restaurant stocks are up, as are those of parent companies of delivery apps like DoorDash.   

The success of these apps and a broad increase in ecommerce generally during the pandemic made a significant impact in blunting tech marketplace uncertainties — still felt, even as the pandemic eases. For example, the gig economy has emerged as a way for independent-minded workers to earn, and could not exist without the tech industry. 

Related: How the Rise of the Gig Economy Influences the Workforce

Adapting to the new office normal

Some marketplace uncertainty comes from the changing look of a business office; the pandemic changed, possibly permanently, how the white-collar workforce works. Enclosed space offices were banned for the better part of two years as COVID-19 spread. And so, while telecommuting had been around for years, the technology side of remote work saw huge growth.

The stress of uncertainty within the workplace will endure, but there are ways to guide your team through these changes.

Managers and other leaders should consider creating hybrid work schedules, and fostering both structured and informal means of communicating with employees will help enormously in that effort. This process might be additionally assisted by conducting random “energy audits” — an analysis of how (and how long) executives and other managers communicate with their teams. Effective leaders are also increasingly attuned to employee emotions, and are proactive in training themselves and others to help combat stress associated with uncertainties.

U.S. businesses and nearshore software development

If you run a tech and software company, another way to cope with marketplace uncertainty is nearshore software development (NSD), in which, instead of having a firm develop code halfway across the globe, the outsourcing choice would be a company closer to home. Also known as nearshore outsourcing, some of its benefits include:

• Fewer cultural and language barriers. In just about every aspect of project completion — from the aforementioned energy audits, to meeting, to simple moment-to-moment updates — the absence of cultural/language barriers goes far in easing uncertainty.

• Time zone sharing. Although working from different time zones might seem innocuous, just conducting group conferences becomes an onerous endeavor if your software developer is working at 2:00 a.m… when home base team members are (or want to be) sound asleep.

• Cost reductions. Many U.S. software companies outsource coding to global areas where programming talent seems to collect, and as a consequence, wages can get high. Nearshoring for Latin American programmers, for example — increasingly well regarded for technical acumen — can save a small software development company badly needed funds.

• Intellectual property protection. The theft of IP, which includes patented and trademarked assets, is rampant across much of China and other parts of Asia and India, but typically is harder to get away with in the Western Hemisphere.

Related: Here's How to Know When You Should Outsource

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