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Flexibility and Agility are Critical During a Pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic is accelerating the adoption of services and technologies that might not otherwise have gone mainstream so quickly. We will likely see many of the changes we are experiencing now in the workplace, payments, transit, public sector services and banking become permanent, either out of necessity or simply because consumers and businesses embrace the changes.

Once people get used to a “new normal” that also brings convenience and security benefits, reverting to a pre-pandemic world will be difficult and, in many cases, unnecessary. Suppliers, manufacturers and retailers that are agile enough to extend into these areas of acceleration will be better positioned to succeed in the post-pandemic world.

Person using a laptop

Securing the new workplace

Over the past 12 years, remote work arrangements have grown by 159%. The pandemic intensified that evolution, and remote work has now become the norm for a significant part of the global workforce.

The benefits of remote work include increased productivity, lower pollution levels, and reduced operational costs. But its not always a seamless move from office to home. Among other issues organizations have had to examine and redesign network security practices, shifting from a primarily closed, onsite network to providing secure access to their many users connecting from home networks. Meeting the needs of multiple users with varying levels of security competency has been a challenge, but one that will ultimately strengthen security awareness and protections.

Business’ rapid adoption of collaboration and communications solutions that were previously primarily utilized for personal use have also created security and privacy concerns. The speed of response seen by companies like Zoom to address security concerns has been admirable, and provides an example of how rapid response to external pressures is often a path to success.

Payments in the post-pandemic world

As countries begin to lift restrictions on restaurants and other social activities, adjustments will need to be made. Social distancing will certainly be a reality for the foreseeable future. Along with capacity restrictions, consumers are likely to see an increase in contactless transactions. Not only will payments be touchless and transactions cashless, but menus and other shared resources may be replaced with mobile-accessible versions so that diners need only interact with their personal devices.

Transitioning transit

Transit will also change. Blocked seats, increased distance between riders, and/or barriers between people will certainly be with us for a long time. Touchless ticketing will also be increasingly prevalent but current security and identification protocols may need to be strengthened to mitigate risks.

For example, to reduce the possibility of counterfeit ticket use, touchless systems will need enhanced features which could include mobile-based tickets that change color when the rider touches their phone. This allows transit employees to safely verify from a distance that the rider has paid the fare with a valid ticket. Leaders in this technology have the opportunity to share their learnings to speed the rollout of features like this around the world.

Banking and public sector services

Digital identification, such as mobile driver’s licenses (mDL), are also part of the move towards touchless solutions.

The main challenges for the acceptance of mDL by wider segments of society include:

  • Interoperability: ensuring that an mDL works across geographic boundaries, such as between states or even countries
  • Security: authorities need to be able to trust the authenticity of an mDL
  • Privacy: assuring the end user's privacy is protected

Solutions and standards are in place to make digital identification work on a broad scale, and adoption is likely to be accelerated due to the pandemic. With the need for social distancing, standing in line at a local government office to get a paper-based ID or documentation for a home purchase, birth or death certificate, or business transaction may become a thing of the past. It is more likely that even these processes and systems will be brought online, and there will be a new drive for digital identity.

Sustainability must not be an afterthought

As we focus in the short term on rapidly adjusting to our new realities, employing sustainable practices will become even more important. For public health, certain sacrifices are being made: a short-term increase in single-use, disposable commodities, for example. However, the long-term goal of ensuring reliable systems must include thinking about the viability of supply — requiring a focus on maintaining sustainable and circular processes — and this will benefit forward-thinking suppliers, manufacturers and retailers in the long term. It also has the added benefit of being the right thing to do.

We’re not going back, but that’s OK

While the COVID-19 pandemic has caused grievous loss of life and impacted the global economy in unprecedented ways, we must find ways to move forward.

UL can help. Our industry-leading experts in safety, security and sustainability can help you reexamine, readjust and retool as needed to not only survive, but succeed. Get in contact with an expert now.