Paving a path forward: how small businesses can see success post pandemic

While the past 18 months have been challenging for businesses across the nation, it has also given us time to reflect on how we view work and the need for a physical office. Following a year of continued instability and lockdowns, organisations readily adapted and embraced remote working and a “work from anywhere” attitude.

Today, 90 per cent of Australians want to keep working from home in some capacity in the future. Employee expectations have fundamentally changed over the past year and work may never be the same as it was before.

If there is one thing that the pandemic has taught us, it’s that businesses need to be prepared to adapt to any circumstance – meaning that they will need to continue to invest in tools that enable employees to do their jobs anywhere, at any time.

It’s no longer about reacting to crisis, it’s about setting yourself up for future opportunities

As of October 2021, lockdowns across Australia are ending, restrictions are easing, and even international borders will soon be open. For businesses, especially those who have embraced cloud-based tools, this will bring new opportunities, especially when it comes to finding new talent, and attracting new customers and partnerships.

Recently we found that 79 per cent of Australians believe their workplaces operate more efficiently with the adoption of digital processes. This supports Salesforce’s research that 51 per cent of workers believe cloud computing saves them both time and effort, and research from IBM revealing that 52 per cent of organisations are using cloud software to drive more rapid innovation with their products and services.

As we enter this new phase, where change and uncertainty will continue to play a huge part in our everyday lives, those who resist Cloud solutions will not be able to adapt as quickly. This will almost certainly impact their ability to attract talent, foster innovation and increase efficiency.

 Invest in the right digital tools to improve your employee experiences

Online collaboration tools such as Slack, cloud-based invoicing and accounting tools such as QuickBooks Online, and eSignatures and contract management software, can help employees continue to work from anywhere, efficiently.

To me, efficiency means spending less money while at the same time using fewer resources. It’s about improving current business processes through automation and scale, optimising output, minimising expenses, and keeping the employee and customer experience at the centre. And, of course, it looks different for each business.

For example, Guzman y Gomez had 300kg of paperwork stored in warehouses before adopting DocuSign and becoming 90 per cent digital. DocuSign helped them improve their onboarding with employees, enabling the franchise to meet demand as it became one of the most well-known restaurant businesses across Asia Pacific.

Digital transformation is about progress, not perfection

There’s often a perception that digital transformation is a long and arduous task. But there are many great cloud-based tools that are quick to implement and allow you to see the ROI almost instantly. 

For example, in February 2021, after several internal discussions and a recognised need for automation, Hi-Trans Express, a family-owned transportation service, decided to move all of its paper-based documents into digital documents in the cloud. DocuSign’s e-signature platform helped the business with several pain points, including digitising its sales quotations, rate cards, credit applications and terms and conditions. This move to digital cut down their average signing time from three weeks to three days, enabling them to streamline their processes while saving time and money.

As we continue to learn from the experiences over the past 18 months and invest in the right technology to build resilient businesses that enable employees to work from anywhere, organisations will need to continue to digitally transform their business. Investing in the right technology and having a digital-first mindset will be essential to managing ongoing challenges and, most importantly, capitalising on this new opportunity.