CLARKSBURG, W.Va. (WV News) – COVID-19 has impacted America and West Virginia for nearly a year, causing leaders of businesses large and small to reflect on the changes that could last and what might return to normal. the pandemic is ending. John Deskins, director and associate dean for outreach engagement at the Chambers College of Business and Economics at the University of West Virginia, said one of the side effects of COVID-19 that’s here to stay is work remotely. We were already moving towards more remote work even before the pandemic, especially among several high-profile tech companies. You can go back to December of last year and January of this year and see several news or speeches where important CEOs were talking about it. This has already moved to where 10-20% of workers were remote workers. This is before the pandemic, ”he said. Now employers have understood that for some jobs remote working is successful, he said. Bowles Rice Assistant Managing Partner and CFO Marc Monteleone said the pandemic has accelerated concepts that were already in place. in the office, such as the remote work component. “It sped up things in two ways, internal and external. … Internally, I think we’re going to see more and more of our lawyers and staff telecommuting from time to time, and they’ve set things up at home for them to do that, ”he said. he said. “Luckily for our firm, we always provided for teleworking, so we were good to go. … Now a lot of people are telecommuting from home, and we’ve fixed the bugs so to speak because we have the systems to do it. We didn’t know how to do it until people started doing it on a large scale. I see it continuing, ”Monteleone said. Not everyone will work from home forever, he said, but the option allows for more flexibility, for example when someone needs a day off or when family responsibilities and childcare must be taken into account, so the work can still be done in certain ways. Externally, (remote work) will change the way we do our business (for example) with client meetings, closures and major transactions. … I imagine the Zoom meetings are here to stay. We have to learn to do business with Zoom involved, ”he said. Some work still needs to be done in person, like notarizing documents when concluding something. But in the future, he said he sees the laws adapt to accommodate the aloof aspect. Due to the expected tenure of remote work, West Virginia is able to sue and profit of a new kind of economic development, Deskins said now, instead of just attracting big business here physically, West Virginia can attract workers from companies that thrive in remote work environments, with well-paying jobs in New York or Chicago or Washington, DC, but living and spending their money here in Mountain State. to be a real win-win especially for a state like West Virginia where we have a lower cost of living and where we have a lot of positive attractions. … we’re in a good position to attract some of these remote workers, and that really opens up our options and in some ways has an advantage. If you attract a large company that employs 500 people, you run a lot of risk, because if that company leaves, those 500 people are lost. … If you attract 500 remote workers, you don’t run the risk of one person making a decision and all those jobs disappearing. It’s a less risky proposition in some ways, ”he said. With remote working, applications such as Zoom, BlueJeans and others will continue to be used, as the need to have each meeting physically in person is no longer necessary, although in many cases, meetings in no one will always be needed. Due to less need to meet in person, Deskins said it can impact business travel. “We are going to see an increase in business travel and we will go back in the direction of what we consider normal, but we are never going to go back to the number of business trips we have taken. We have found that some things require in-person interaction. We’re not going to see the end of in-person business travel because some things need to have that interaction. “It improves efficiency in many ways. The business meeting you have in nobody can last two hours well spent, (but) it can take a full day of travel to get there and that whole day of travel is just money and wasted resources … it will take time to get there. ‘travel industry to adapt, as some jobs will be lost permanently, but in the long run it will be a more efficient use of resources, “he said. Even next year, Monteleone has already assumed Less displa cements due to video conferencing and remote working. On the small business side, Anna Carrier, head of the community business program and assistant professor at Chambers College of Business and Economics at WVU, said one of the most most important that will endure after COVID -19 is the importance of digitization. “Small businesses went digital and had to become easily accessible online or they just broke down. At this time, especially the foods and products that you would normally use in a business to just smell, taste, or try, things like that don’t happen anymore. Digitization is my # 1. Improve ecommerce and perfect your system, I think it will only get better. There are only a handful of platforms before COVID-19 that would support businesses in this way, and I think there will be a lot more platforms available, ”she said. Improved customer service practices, she says, will also remain. Cathy Goings, a small business owner for more than 25 years and owner of the Wicked Sisters clothing store in Clarksburg, said some changes related to the pandemic are here to stay, including masks. , but people will still wear them in populated environments for a while. “I don’t think they’ll go away completely. … They won’t be worn as often as we do now, but I think that will be part of the norm in the future, ”she said. Goings, agreeing with Deskins’ point of view, said another side effect of the pandemic will persist. in the future it is working from home. “I think it will be a very viable option. Companies have told many people that they will continue to work from home. With technology as it is, you don’t always have to be physically in an office, ”she said. Pressure for broadband interconnectivity statewide is also making working from home more of a possibility, officials said. a perfect example of the importance of broadband. … I think it was probably a wake-up call, and we need to do whatever is necessary for our state to advance in technology, because it’s more important than ever. … If we ever needed broadband, that was the real test… ”said Goings. Carrier said she hopes the pandemic will lead to the necessary boost for broadband connectivity and the importance it represents across all industries. pandemic, curbside service is something a lot of people continue to use for a number of reasons, and Goings believes it will not only stick around, but see an increase in its use as well. “The general population will get used to it, especially the younger generation. They want the convenience and ease of shopping, and I never see that changing, ”she said. More face-to-face interaction, she added, is something she hopes to see more of in the future, as well as continued support for small businesses across the country once the pandemic has passed. “As a small business owner, we really had to focus on what we could do to get the consumer buy. We are all generally physical stores, but we have had to think outside the box and do whatever we can to get customers to buy (from us). Hopefully when this is all over, the customer support base will still be there. We still have our loyal customer base, but it becomes difficult to attract new customers, ”she said. Carrier, who also owns the Morgantown Cupcakerie, said she hopes the support for small businesses that was plentiful during the pandemic will continue. .