The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way businesses work. And, while the methods of adaptation differ across sectors, one fact has proven nearly universal: costs once thought to be ‘fixed’ have been no match for a global pandemic.
Take travel expenses, for example. Pre-pandemic, American companies spent a combined $110 billion on business-related travel each year. Fast forward to today, and virtual meetings are expected to replace more than a quarter of all business travel in 2022. Over half of the participants in a Deloitte survey predicted travel patterns wouldn’t return to 2019 levels until Q4 2022 – at the earliest. This shift to remote work is undoubtedly saving firms valuable dollars – just look at companies like Amazon and Google, both cut operating costs by more than $1 billion annually.
With elements of remote work likely to endure beyond the pandemic, we’ve outlined three ways companies can rethink their budgets to bolster everything from company culture to corporate communications:
- Digital content and social media: Less time and money spent traveling for meetings, conferences, and trade shows means companies would be well-served to find new methods for connecting with their target audiences. With an average person spending upwards of 2.5 hours on social media every day, brands have every incentive to bolster their digital marketing footprint. From Instagram posts that link back to original content on a company’s website, to attention-grabbing videos on Facebook, and thought leadership on LinkedIn, social media is an increasingly critical line item in any company’s budget.
- Company culture: The rapid rise of remote work is putting the onus on business owners and managers to keep their employees engaged and attentive even as they spend less time together in-person.Money saved on office space, parking, (and office snacks!)can be reallocated to teambuilding activities, professional development initiatives, and improved internal communications – all with the goal of engendering camaraderie, loyalty, and productivity. Afterall, a company’s own employees bear limitless marketing potential when it comes to serving as ambassadors in the community, among clients, and across their professional networks.
- Philanthropy: Corporate giving fell by more than seven percent in 2020 as businesses scaled back their charitable spending amidst pandemic-fueled financial concerns. At the same time, nearly 60 percent of U.S. workers believe their employer’s support for nonprofits lead to a happier, more welcoming workplace. As operating budgets are reduced heading into the 2022 fiscal year, companies have every incentive to expand their philanthropic commitments, both in the form of direct giving, pro bono service, and opportunities for volunteerism.