Sharing new ideas. Beautiful young African woman taking a photo of a paper using her smart phone while standing in her workshopIt’s been months of uncertainty and upheaval. And now, across the nation, people are going back to work and businesses are trying to reopen and get back on track after the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak. What’s the new normal going to look like? Here are two ways that the global pandemic has fundamentally changed the way U.S. companies do business:

Businesses will have a renewed emphasis on continuity. In good times, it’s easy to let the process of identifying and effectively managing potential risks slide. And we had good times as a nation until early this year! The U.S. was experiencing the longest economic good times on record — starting in 2009 — until it was abruptly and wholly stopped short by COVID-19. The outbreak has once again put the spotlight on being prepared for the unexpected and making organizations more resilient. As companies get back on track, they will undoubtedly be beefing up contingency plans, developing risk management programs, re-evaluating insurance coverages and making plans for a host of unexpected events. The global pandemic was a hard lesson in being prepared for the unexpected.

Telecommuting has taken hold. The percentage of people working remotely increased dramatically with the advent of social distancing. There’s traditionally been a lot of skepticism among business leaders about telecommuting and many have been reluctant to invest in initiatives that support remote work. But during the COVID-19 outbreak, many companies found that remote work was a success — employees not only are happier working at home at least part of the time (as countless studies have shown), they are as productive, or even more productive. It’s something research has supported, but experiencing it first hand makes all the difference.

Many companies are now examining how remote work can fit into their business models going forward. Companies aren’t likely to go to a 100 percent telecommuting model and many industries can’t have people working at home, of course, but those that can are more likely to continue with telecommuting by allowing some employees to work at least part of the time at home.

In addition to having the right insurance and risk management program to address unexpected events, companies also will need to have insurance coverage that addresses the risks of having some employees working off-site.