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4 Lessons Businesses Should Have Learned From the Pandemic The pandemic has opened our eyes to the many wonders of digital communication, as well as its limits.

By Steve Taplin

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

It's hard to name an industry that didn't suffer due to the spread of coronavirus. Once lockdown started and businesses were forced to empty offices, initial results seemed almost positive. Productivity was going up, employees reported feeling more fulfilled and focused and remote work looked like the future for businesses everywhere.

Here are some lessons businesses should've learned throughout Covid-19 to thrive.

Lesson 1: Reduced work weeks just might work better

The thing is, it shouldn't have taken a pandemic to figure out that allowing workers to do their business from a home office would lead to happier employees. Numerous studies have shown that when you reduce work hours and allow employees to have more of a work-life balance, productivity rises, along with the quality of work and overall worker satisfaction. So, the first lesson businesses have hopefully learned is that when workers are given fewer days to do the same amount of work, it can actually boost their morale and overall productivity.

For software developers, however, working from home had some noticeably negative effects. There have been many instances of workers reporting lessened productivity due to more obvious familial responsibilities. For some developers, working in an office environment is key to staying focused and innovating new ideas. Structure and routine can play a large role in software development, and the pandemic certainly threw a wrench into all of our routines.

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Lesson 2: The future is online

While we've all developed our own love-hate relationships with Zoom, Skype and FaceTime, there's no denying the way digital collaboration technology has helped facilitate business communication. Many companies have reported that Zoom and other apps like it have become an integral part of their daily operations, and more are likely to follow suit. There's no denying how much more quickly a Zoom meeting can be called than a traditional one, and business can get right to the point. Digital communications are near-instantaneous, and inter-office communication is faster and more concise than in-person meetings.

However, it won't just be in our offices that we see an increase in digital presence. Ecommerce also experienced record rises in users at the start of the pandemic, and experts believe these numbers might remain consistent for some time. Now that consumers have experienced the speed and ease of using personal shopping apps like Instacart, food delivery apps like Postmates and Grubhub and how much easier online shopping is than visiting a mall, it's doubtful that in-person levels are going to return to their pre-Covid state. Depending on your business, the pandemic may have been a help or a hindrance, but it certainly changed things for the economy. Whether for better or for worse, time will only tell.

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Lesson 3: Is nearshoring the next step for software development companies?

While offshoring has been a touchy subject for decades, nearshoring is a lesser-known style of outsourcing, wherein companies move their offshore operations to a country closer to their own. With the pandemic, many businesses were forced to move their operations closer to home so as to not only comply with their own country's Covid-19 restrictions, but also keep a closer eye on their manufacturing processes and quality control.

Nearshoring has proven to have many positive benefits since it became a more widespread practice. In retrospect, some of these benefits seem obvious. Moving your external teams to a country closer to your own doesn't necessarily bring more benefits to your business. Instead, it allows you to avoid all the pitfalls that traditionally come with offshoring. These pitfalls can include linguistic and cultural barriers, difficulty managing processes from afar and inhibited data security. Essentially, moving your operations closer to home makes communication and project management easier — who would've thought?

Software development companies that have engaged in nearshoring due to the pandemic have reported cost savings, added tax benefits and an easier time finding skilled professionals for their projects. There are many hidden costs to offshoring, and nearshoring can help eliminate them just by making business operations more transparent.

Lesson 4: Software development requires human interaction

Software developers solve problems and come up with new ways of doing things, and for that, it could be argued that in-person communicating is essential. To understand the needs of a client, a developer needs to know what that client is looking for. While digital communication is fantastic for delegating simple tasks and clear, concise instructions, it can be difficult to convey certain sentiments over an email. For more nuanced work, human contact and face-to-face conversation can be enormously beneficial.

The same goes for consulting, networking and all the other elements that go into software development and the entire technology industry. Businesses need to be able to anticipate market trends and respond accordingly, while also accurately gauging public sentiment towards potential problems. That means knowing what people think about things, and knowing how clients do their work. Developers need to be able to not only observe people directly, but also communicate with one another to network and analyze findings.

Related: 10 Most Important Lessons in Economics and Finance

Steve Taplin

CEO of Sonatafy Technology

Steve Taplin is the CEO of Sonatafy Technology (www.sonatafy.com), a premier nearshore software-development-services firm that provides its clients with expertise in cloud solutions, web and mobile applications, ecommerce, big data, DevOps practices, QA, IoT and machine learning.

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