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Stepping into the second half of 2020, business professionals are able to reflect on the start of the year, identify emerging trends and best position themselves moving forward. So far, 2020 has presented businesses with unexpected social and economic shifts, sending shockwaves throughout the economy and global community. Successful businesses run by adaptive leaders have adjusted their business practices to overcome and sometimes even leverage these new challenges. Continue reading to discover important business learnings that have emerged from market trends during the first half of 2020 in Australia.  

      

1. Workplace flexibility is a key employee driver 

The perpetual nine-to-five is something of the past, as a rise in workplace flexibility puts employees in better control of their working hours. The government is pushing for this increased flexibility with legislation around giving employees the choice of changing their hours, work patterns (splitting shifts and job sharing) or the location of work (perhaps choosing to work from home). This push from Fair Work Australia has been further accelerated in 2020 as the coronavirus pandemic has shuffled people’s regular schedules, creating an imminent need for flexible working arrangements. Companies that already have the tools and processes to grant their employees flexible working arrangements have seen a much smoother transition during COVID-19.  

Developing a flexible and dynamic business which gives its employees the option to customise their working arrangements leads to improved employee satisfaction, increased productivity and additional mobility in uncertain times.  
 

Flexibility in the conventional legal industry 

The legal industry is known as a particularly traditional and ritualistic field, with slow-moving professional culture shifts when compared to other industries. Australian start-up, Immediation, is a 100% online dispute resolution firm that embodies flexible working. Immediation has embraced the flexible mindset, not only giving their staff flexibility but granting their clients the power to access legal resources from their home. It is a company living the flexible work-life values and empowering those around them to do the same.  

 

2. Forward-thinking businesses support employee wellbeing  

The business trend towards a more adaptive and sustainable business model has placed employee wellbeing in the spotlight. Society has increased awareness around mindfulness, breaking down previous stigmas held around mental health conditions. The business world has followed this social shift and is increasingly concerned with employees’ mental fatigue, well-being and happiness. This has been further exacerbated in 2020 where employees are facing unforeseen challenges with some even experiencing periods of poor mental health. Studies have found that during the COVID-19 pandemic, 75% of people feel socially isolated with 67% feeling heightened levels of stress. Modern business leaders need to allocate sufficient resources to support employees through these and any future uncertain times.
 

How businesses are supporting their employee’s mental health 

There are a variety of ways businesses have stepped up and gone above standard regulations to support their employees through the first half of 2020. We have seen strategies like virtual socialising, increased flexibility, and additional communication to ensure employees feel supported. Bentleys, an Australian business consulting firm, advocates for businesses to place employee mental health in the spotlight. Bentleys encourages mental health training sessions for managers, regular conversations to keep morale high and sharing positive news around the team. They want to remove the stigma around mental health in the workforce and are among many Australian companies understanding the importance of a mentally-fit workforce. 

      

3. Keep your business safe with a cyber security focus in 2020 

Moving into remote working is a key business trend in 2020 that has reinforced the need to keep business’ online activity secure. Business growth can require a great online presence, building a secure framework to conduct business online will keep your company in the clear. The Australian Federal Government announced in late June 2020 that there would be a $1.35 billion investment into the cyber security industry, a move that has ensured cyber security will be a core focus moving forward. Implementing a cyber plan for your business is crucial, it is important to learn how cyber security can safeguard your business operations.  
 

Cyber security defends Australian businesses 

The Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC) protects and defends Australians from hackers and cyber attackers. They work to keep the internet prosperous and maintain the online economy as a safe place to conduct business. This government department continues to grow, with a key focus for 2020 being the continued development of its online network.  

 

4.The continued rise of automation in business operations 

Businesses are leveraging technological advancements to implement automation into mundane business operations. Business owners cannot outsource all tasks to machines, however, robotics can be extremely useful for repetitive and common tasks. There’s no need to fear that machines are replacing all work, according to the International Federation of Robotics, less than 10% of jobs can be done through automation alone. Human input is needed on a variety of issues and modern businesses are utilising automation for low-level tasks, clearing their workers’ schedules for high-level and imaginative strategising. As machinery develops, savvy businesses embrace these technological leaps and implement various strategies across automation to best utilise their resources. 
 

Using robots in hospitals 

Did you know that you can find a robotic delivery service sweeping the halls of South Australia’s Royal Adelaide Hospital? These Automated Guided Vehicles (AGV) give nurses and other hospital staff more time to focus on caregiving, whilst these AGVs deliver goods from one location to another without human intervention. This advancement highlights how automation can prove a useful tool in an array of workplaces and industries. 

 

5. Data-driven decisions pave the way 

The rise of data has become commonplace in most successful businesses with a reliance on facts and figures over emotional judgement. The sophisticated collection and interpretation of detailed data sets continue to evolve and inform business intelligence. Despite the chaos of 2020, the steady rise of the data science industry continues to grow in Australia. Australia’s national science agency, CSIRO, is considered world-renowned as their work on data science and artificial intelligence is cited 89% more than the global average.  
 

Artificial intelligence (AI) used to protect the Great Barrier Reef 

The Great Barrier Reef is an environmental wonder with an underwater eco-system that brings economic, cultural and social benefits to Australia. The Great Barrier Reef is under environmental attack due to climate change, declining water quality, habitat loss and fishing. The CSIRO developed data-driven technology to forecast human and environmental effects on the reef. The sophisticated data collection uses multiple external factors to better understand the Great Barrier Reef, allowing all key stakeholders to work together, a feat only made possible with innovative data science and analytics processes. 

 

A modern business needs modern leaders 

Running a successful business requires dynamic and adaptive business practices run by thoughtful leaders. Dynamic leadership comes from quality training and the University of Adelaide offers an online Master of Business Administration to train the next generation of future leaders. With courses like ‘Entrepreneurial Mindset’ that teach business professionals how to react to new industry trends and insights, this online MBA will prepare you for managerial positions. Learn how to navigate the ever-changing business world and see your company grow. 

Discover the importance of leveraging business opportunities quickly and adapting to modern challenges. Make an appointment to speak with an advisor today.