We’re living through a time of unprecedented change, which is transforming the future of work. And while our business model has always hinged on innovation, disruption and leaps into the unknown, it’s remarkable to witness other businesses following suit as a direct result of COVID-19.
Traditional working practices are being swept away across the board. We’re seeing different systems, processes and a large-scale implementation of distributed working models. These kinds of changes usually take years to unfurl, but the pandemic has forced the hand of businesses that would have been slower to adapt. In many ways, Covid-19 has been the biggest disruptor of all.
What will shape the future of work?
I founded LuxDeco as an e-commerce disruptor. We’re no strangers to industry-leading initiatives, and this innate flexibility assisted our journey through lockdown. There’s no doubt that the first half of 2020 is proving a tough year for everyone.
I never cease to feel inspired by our industry sector, and how people come together to support each other. Our recent Think Big, Shop Small campaign is just one example, and it’s something I’m really proud to be involved in. This kind of collaboration and adaptability is crucial too for the long-term future of work. The pandemic has pushed me to consider not only the future of LuxDeco, but how as an industry and wider workforce we might be better able to balance the truly important things in life.
A desire for a realistic and achievable work life balance along with high, quality creative work must shape the future of business. Well before Covid-19, we had already allowed a number of our staff not only to elect to work from home but to establish their home in other countries in order to allow them to pursue the future they wanted to create for themselves, their partners and their families.
Facing a brave new world
Thinking about the future starts with the ideas at the very heart of our own business – creating a stellar customer experience through disruption. But not disruption for the sake of it. It’s about using innovative ideas, cutting-edge technology and every future tool in our arsenal to create a customer experience that beats every other.
Technology and innovation are the drivers of change. But to use these effectively and for a purpose needs bravery – and sometimes a leap of faith. Our platform differs from traditional e-commerce sites because of our technological know-how.
LuxDeco uses proprietary algorithms and data science analysis along with the expertise of leading curators in our field. Taking that crucial step to use this kind of technology to connect makers and buyers so intimately and directly was our calculated leap of faith.
For disruptive businesses, regardless of their sector, the challenge lies not just in creating new ways to use tech. Shifting customer expectations create the need for flexibility and adaptability. We are in a luxury category and work with our customers to promote a value-led shopping experience. Our platform is designed to provide a service for customers who expect craftsmanship and the time it needs.
Other e-commerce platforms use technological innovation to offer ever-faster delivery across much broader product categories. The focus may be different, but the innovative, flexible and disruptive use of technology remains the same. And this will be critical for the long-term work environment. We’ll need creative solutions to challenges and fresh thinking about where, how and why we work together.
The rise and rise of technology
Technological innovation is at the centre of every sector’s journey towards a new way of working. We now live in a world where an interior designer can access a client’s home without setting foot in it. Where an architect can present living breathing plans to clients using augmented reality (AR).
We can communicate 24 hours a day with customers in every corner of the world on the platform of their choice. From cloud storage to chatbots, VR presentations to automated platforms, tech is already transforming the world as we know it.
For us, the distance between craftsmen and consumer can be closed. We can initiate direct interaction on behalf of customers with the actual maker of their bespoke luxe item. Across all business sectors, seamless remote working is now possible. We’ve all taken part in an unexpected but significant experiment in distributed working, and many businesses are discovering entirely new ways to work.
Companies like Amazon and Twitter are permanently altering their working models, by dispensing with 100% office-based teams. Instead they’re mixing remote workers with physical employees. Smaller businesses will follow suit. Small scale artisans, artists, makers and designers are now working with platforms like LuxDeco, demonstrating that there is another way for ecommerce too.
We use the technology available in a different way – to create a platform that invites customers to take their time, browse our pieces, decide on the perfect product. Our specific challenge was to create a niche ecommerce platform for luxury interiors. When we launched, this was missing from the industry, and we took that chance. Technology is not the sole enabler for change. It’s how it’s used that counts.
A single-minded focus on quality and care
According to Forbes, technology alone cannot equal success without “the single-minded obsessive focus on solving one big universal problem for the buyers.” And I agree. The future for e-commerce and online platforms is to remove any friction in the customer journey. Technology allows us to do this. An online experience must include everything the customer needs, with an intuitive UI and seamless integration with customer service.
For businesses that viewed the pandemic as another challenge to focus on, a new way of working is emerging. We adapted quickly to support small-scale artisans, by understanding what they needed to get on board. Thinking outside of our usual offering led to increasing market spend to push sales, streamlining processes and saving client costs wherever possible.
COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the world of work. Its future must be constructed with the understanding that crises can and do appear. This is unlikely to be a one-off in a world that is dealing with a looming climate crisis, the possibility of other pandemics and an unstable global economy. Businesses must be ready and willing to adapt, flex and be creative. And they should seize any further disruptions like the pandemic as an opportunity.
Don’t wait for the ‘new normal’- create it
As we collectively move out of the immediate impact of the pandemic, the new normal is unfolding before us. Businesses that want to survive and thrive should create their own. We all have technology available that allows us to come up with truly innovative ways to work, and the last few months have shown us that there’s no time to waste.
This year is a true turning point for every industry. We have a once in a generation opportunity to shape a new future of work that can withstand challenges to come. We just need to be brave.
|Jonathan Holmes is a tech entrepreneur, industry disruptor and CEO of LuxDeco. A transformative force in the industry, Jonathan is leading LuxDeco towards becoming one of the biggest luxury home décor retailers in the world.|