The Industrial Revolution. The Great Depression. The rise of the internet.
Every few decades, a seismic jolt changes the way companies do business, permanently altering the culture of work. Few disruptions, however, have been as tragic and scarring as the COVID-19 pandemic. With millions dead worldwide, national economies hammered and new variants—such as delta and omicron—continuing to emerge, COVID-19 has been more than consequential. It is era-defining.
To face these new challenges, companies have had to be more flexible than ever before—both executives and employees. Carefully and safely reopening the workplace and working toward transitioning from a pandemic to endemic environment has required creativity, perseverance and effective leadership.
“The pandemic has been a once-in-a-century event that has significantly altered people’s lives and society as a whole,” said Joe Brusuelas, chief economist for RSM. “It has also changed the entire perspective of where, when and how people work.”
According to data from the fourth quarter 2021 RSM US Middle Market Business Index survey1 , midsize companies are carefully getting back to work and discovering that their usual methods have not just faded away. Those old standards have been obliterated.
Survey data was collected prior to the emergence of the COVID-19 omicron variant. Foremost among these changes is the rise of the remote worker. Employees have proven that they don’t need to come into the office to be productive, and the desire to telecommute has moved from an occasional perk to a worker demand.
In turn, many companies have learned that they need to be more flexible in their approach to their employees. Businesses have also generally realized that they must be nimble in their response to opportunities in the marketplace and changing work standards.
The labor market has tightened to a shocking degree. As such, the effort to recruit and retain top talent is likely to challenge companies in the foreseeable future.
Vaccine mandates, mask requirements and new variants will continue to have an impact on middle market businesses. We have seen that life will be different moving forward than it was in 2019. This MMBI special report gathered information from a nationally representative sample of over 400 middle market executives, and it details some of the most important changes and challenges that companies face.