The Surprising Businesses That Adapted to Virtual Operations
Terms like "social distancing" and "coronavirus lockdown" were quickly imprinted on our vocabulary as the COVID-19 pandemic took hold of communities time and again over the last couple of years. While the preventative measures improved our physical safety, many businesses like gyms, cinemas, airlines, theaters, and art galleries found it challenging to continue under the new rules.
Still, some businesses displayed surprising resilience during the pandemic by employing technology and adapting to virtual operations.
Real Estate Companies
Despite selling highly visual products, many real estate companies survived and thrived under lockdown protocols for two critical reasons.
The pandemic didn't deter homebuyers - demand for properties actually shot up during the pandemic.
The real estate industry finally embraced PropTech (property technology) to help with virtual operations.
With PropTech, home buyers and sellers can make transactions more seamlessly, and are empowered to make educated decisions. For example, the disruptive online real estate marketplace Nobul, founded by Regan McGee, allows homebuyers and sellers to confidentially make real estate decisions using big data, a refined agent verification system, advanced algorithms and other innovative technologies.
Other technologies that enhance virtual operations for real estate include blockchain-based contracts, 3D printing, drone footage, augmented reality (AR), and virtual reality (VR). Real estate thought leaders believe that many new real estate virtual operation trends are here to stay.
"The ability for buyers to narrow their search and to do virtual tours should prove a positive step for the entire industry," McGee shared in an interview with TG Daily. "The ability to experience a home in such a way will allow them to narrow their search and should prove a timesaver for what can be a tedious process."
Financial companies also adapted to virtual operations by leveraging technology.
Many customer service tasks were automated through cutting-edge websites featuring AI-powered chatbots and targeted real-time data feeds driven by machine learning.
Banks managed pandemic-related labor shortages by empowering customers - clients could instantly open bank accounts, apply for credit, make investment choices, and more through remote access.
Face-to-face meetings between finance professionals and their clients still took place, but virtually, via video conferencing software like Zoom.
It's no secret that the pandemic hit the restaurant industry like a sledgehammer. Barely breaking even before the pandemic, many restaurants could not survive under lockdown measures.
Some restaurants tried to adapt to remote operations by partnering with food delivery services like Uber Eats, Skip the Dishes, and DoorDash. But already operating on razor-thin margins, restaurants found the high fees from food delivery apps hard to swallow.
However, some eateries adapted to virtual operations by taking some bold measures.
Owners permanently closed dine-in spaces to avoid paying fixed operational costs like rent, salaries, and energy bills. Next, they shifted to a virtual restaurant model by running a delivery-only kitchen.
Some eateries compensated for high food delivery fees by raising menu prices on third-party apps while offering discounts to customers for pickups.
A few restaurants launched their own apps with lower prices for customers interested in ordering directly.
Organizations like hospitals and clinics faced severe repercussions because of the COVID-19 pandemic. With emergency patient volumes rising, staff falling sick, and elective procedures being canceled, health care businesses across the United States suffered significant revenue losses and as a result, permanently closed their doors.
However, others pivoted by delivering health care remotely, connecting patients with nurses and physicians through webcams and phone lines for treatment.
Some teaching hospitals also used VR technology to their advantage by training students through virtual tools. Similarly, VR tools helped surgeons plan and remotely educate patients about upcoming procedures.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a devastating impact on businesses. Fortunately, some managed to adapt to virtual operations and carry on.
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