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A WORD FROM THE WISE
This sage advice from Jack Welch is more important now than ever. What is your new reality and how is your business adapting?
 

TRENDS WE ADVISE YOU WATCH
COVID-19 has changed the way businesses across the country operate. But once the pandemic is resolved, don't expect business to continue "as usual." 

The events of this year have led to undeniable changes in consumer behavior, the legal regulations of businesses, and, subsequently, the practices that business owners must implement to stay on par with the changing times. 

And while some of these new practices are no more than necessary fads that will fade out as the country returns to normal day-to-day living, some of the trends that have emerged are here to stay: 


Work From Home (WFH)

Working from home was one of the more obvious and predictable changes that spawned from the virus, but some may be surprised just how wide-spread and permanent the change may be. Many experts are predicting that the longer our current WFH conditions persist, the more wide-spread permanent adoption of the practice will be post-pandemic.

A recent survey conducted by Iometrics and Global Workplace Analytics found that "82% of U.S. office workers say they want to continue to work from home, at least weekly, when the pandemic is over." Only 6% of respondents said that they would not want to WFH at all in the future. 

How employers choose to move forward with this preference won't be known until the time comes for a decision to be made, but there may be some notable benefits and pitfalls employers want to consider before making the decision. For example, employees say that when working alone, productivity increases by 12% in a WFH setting. On the other hand, when completing group work, employees are 26% more satisfied collaborating in an office setting. 

When making a final decision, employers will want to take an introspective look at the nature of the work being completed across the company, comparing that to the pros and cons of a WFH setup. 
 

Mobile Commerce & No-Touch Payment 

While the shift from physical to digital has been ongoing for the past two decades, M-Commerce may be getting a giant boost forward due to COVID-19. A recent study conducted by ResearchAndMarkets.com forecasts that the global M-Commerce market, currently worth $1.9T, will be worth an estimated $6.6T by the end of 2027. M-Commerce in undeniably taking over the E-Commerce market and M-Commerce is expected to make up nearly 75% of all E-Commerce transactions by the end of next year. 

And along with the rise of M-Commerce has come a boom in contactless payment. As people have grown weary of how handling cash and cards may impact their likelihood of catching the virus, the once niche technology behind no-touch payments has experienced tremendous growth. Richard Crone, chief executive officer of mobile-payment research firm Crone Consulting LLC, expects to see a 10-20% increase in transactions at stores and ATMs conducted via contactless payments as a consequence of the pandemic.


The Virtual Experience Economy 

The Virtual Experience Economy consists of events and entertainment which can be experienced in a digital rather than physical setting — think live streams, virtual tours, and streaming platforms. As social distancing has become a standard across the country, consumers have increasingly turned to virtual experiences as a way of bringing some normalcy and entertainment into their lives in our current situation. And with many consumers growing accustomed to the offerings of the virtual experience economy, it is growing more and more likely that this trend is here to stay. You can read about some of the different digital experiences that have emerged around the world due to the virus here.


The Tele-X Industry

Along with virtual experiences, virtual services have also grown increasingly popular throughout the pandemic. The proof to support this trend may be best uncovered when taking a look at the healthcare industry — a field typically reluctant to change. In 2019, only 33% of inpatient hospitals in the U.S. had adopted telemedicine practices despite the available technology. That adoption has more than doubled, with 75% of U.S. hospitals offering telehealth services. And now that service providers have implemented the necessary technology to make telehealth widely accessible, consumers are ready to use it, even post-pandemic. A whopping 85% are expected to continue using telehealth services after COVID-19 is resolved. 

But the healthcare industry isn't the only market involved in this trend. As regulations and consumer concerns spurred from the virus hurt sales and revenue for many service providers across the country, business owners were forced to find ways to pivot and adapt. Consumers are becoming increasingly comfortable with the changes implemented to bring service industries online, and following the pandemic, it is likely that this comfort paired with the convenience of digital services will support the rise of the tele-x industry as a lasting trend.   

 
To learn more about how one of our expert CFOs can help you tap into trends, refine your strategy, and take your firm to the next level, reach out to us via email at isabella@imperialgrp.com
Figures sourced from (1) https://globalworkplaceanalytics.com/work-at-home-after-covid-19-our-forecast; (2) https://techjury.net/blog/mcommerce-statistics/#gref; (3) https://www.researchandmarkets.com/reports/2883902/m-commerce-global-market-trajectory-and?utm_source=dynamic&utm_medium=CI&utm_code=jqx94k&utm_campaign=1394517+-+M-Commerce+Industry+Projected+to+Grow+by+%245.1+Trillion+During+2020-2027+(COVID-19+Adjusted)&utm_exec=joca220cid; (4) https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-16/no-touch-payments-skyrocket-because-no-one-wants-to-handle-cash; (5) https://www.medicaleconomics.com/view/four-new-statistics-that-prove-that-telemedicine-isn-t-just-a-pandemic-fad


WHAT'S MAKING HEADLINES?

California could be facing an über-big issue.

As a state judge issued a ruling that require some comapnies operating in the gig-economy reclassify to their workers as employees, transportation giants Uber & Lyft are considering hitting the brakes on their California operations permanently.

In direct response to the ruling, both Uber and Lyft immediately announced an indefinite shutdown on August 20th, claiming that it would not be possible to make the necessary changes in the allotted 10-day compliance time-frame. Just one day after the companies' announcements, a California appeals court announced that Uber and Lyft would be allowed to continue operations as usual while they fight the order. 

But still, the companies' responses and resistance to the enact the new law have started a risky game of chicken between the companies and the state, and how it all may end remains unclear. 

Uber and Lyft are claiming that Assembly Bill 5 — the legal standard which would require them to classify their workers as employees — does not apply to them because they are "tech" rather than "transportation" companies. California's Attorney General, along with several other legal professionals throughout the state, disagree. 

For now, both companies will resume operations. 

If they lose this legal battle, the ride-hailing companies will be forced to provide certain benefits to workers such as employer-sponsored health insurance, overtime pay, and paid sick leave. None of which are required now under the contract-worker classification. Yet the question stands: is a loss for Uber/Lyft really a win for California? Initial responses to the law suggest that the proposed requirement might push these companies out of the state for good. 

Until both parties reach a final decision, it will all be speculation and interpretation. Are the companies making threats with no intention of following through on them? Is the state going to be willing to take that risk? 

Read more about the ongoing battle between Uber/Lyft and California here



LET'S TALK! 
"I got my PPP loan! ... now what?"

To prepare yourself for the next step in the PPP loan process, join us Tuesday, September 8th at 11:00 A.M. EST for "What Data Do I Need - The 101s of PPP Forgiveness."


I
n this webinar, Imperial Advisory founder Gershon Morgulis will cover the basics that an applicant should know before diving into the complex PPP forgiveness process. 

Do I qualify for the EZ form? How do I calculate FTEs to maximize forgiveness? Do I include benefits when I calculate payroll? 
We're here to help you figure it all out. 
Register For the Webinar



 
ABOUT IMPERIAL ADVISORY
Imperial Advisory is a financial consulting firm that provides clients with outsourced-CFO services, consulting with owners and CEOs on a variety of business and finance issues. Our analytical and growth-focused team of expert CFOs will unlock valuable insights on the financial implications of your day-to-day business decisions. We also consult on strategic and long-term business planning.
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