Many business changes were driven by the pandemic.
What we think:
Now is the time for businesses and lawmakers to consider the unknown.
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As we all continue the move toward “normalcy,” you have to wonder what changes from the past year will become new norms once we move past this pandemic existence. For example, some Colorado restaurants and bars may be able to continue offering alcohol for takeout and delivery if a bipartisan bill passes in Denver this session. There have also been seismic shifts in employment as some jobs have disappeared forever while new employment opportunities begin to take shape. There are COVID-driven changes, both drastic and incremental, that have impacted the way we do business. Some will barely be noticed going forward, but others may have forced permanent shifts.
Consider this from The Colorado Sun:
“Online shopping exploded in the last year as home-bound shoppers nested during the pandemic, spending stimulus money to improve life at home and on toys for outdoor play. The boom has business owners ... and lawmakers wondering if the e-commerce shift is permanent and, if so, what does that mean for the future of retail in Colorado?”
The Sun reports, “Spending by Coloradans shopping from home at ‘non-store retailers,’ like Amazon, added up to $11.54 billion in gross sales in 2020. That’s a 91% increase over the previous year, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Sales taxes collected from out-of-state retailers hit $113.83 million
in 2020, up 140% from 2019.”
For many retailers, the shift from brick-and-mortar to online was already underway before COVID-19 hit, but the trend has certainly accelerated. Thankfully, the U.S. Supreme Court three years ago ruled states could collect taxes on e-commerce. Those tax dollars paid by out-of-state retailers began to flow into Colorado at an opportune time starting in 2020.
One year ago, many businesses were caught off guard by the sudden and almost complete transition to online sales. And those retailers with a strong online presence prior to the pandemic were better situated to handle the jolt. While some scrambled to set up online marketplaces and networks robust enough to handle Zoom meeting after Zoom meeting, those who were prepared filled that vacuum, sat back and watched profits climb.
A little over a year ago, few professionals would have argued against the need for office space. Today, the concept of the office has been flipped on its head. The ripple effects of that alone have had huge implications on the way we work in 2021.
Vaccine rollouts have accelerated and case counts have plummeted across the country in recent weeks. It’s an oft-quoted cliché, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. Businesses should be using this time to strategize about their post-pandemic world. And legislators at both the state and federal levels need to act as partners with businesses — especially small businesses — to determine which regulations no longer make sense (like prohibiting to-go alcoholic drinks), and tweak or remove laws that unnecessarily tie the hands of businesses.
Lawmakers and business owners will be faced with many choices in the next year. Some changes could impact how Americans earn a paycheck for generations to come.
The concepts of work and the workforce has never been so pliable. Now is the time to begin to think about the future of work in our nation, our state and our community. The world has changed since 2019 — the way we work must change with it.