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Pandemic Creates Mobility Instability

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Paul Korzeniowski's picture
B2B Content producer Self-employed

Paul is a seasoned (basically old) freelance B2B content producer. Through the years, he has written more than 10,000 items (blogs, news stories, white papers, case studies, press releases and...

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  • Jan 19, 2022

The pandemic has forced energy companies to regularly take erasers to their business plans. Trying to determine how to outfit remote office workers and field service teams has been one particularly vexing area. The recent surge in Covid cases is once again forcing many utilities to rewrite their mobility plans.

The pandemic created a number of business ripple effects. As it struck, energy companies had to rethink the traditional office. Because of local mandates and social distancing rules, they quickly moved employees from central locations to remote locations, often their homes.

In addition, energy providers had to develop new ways to interact with customers and new support business processes as well. The new landscape often meant replacing face-to-face interactions with virtual ones.


A Big Boost in Mobile Device Sales

The changes boosted mobile devices purchases significantly. PCs, which had been a market in slow decline for many years, saw a dramatic rise in sales. During 2021, PC shipments reached 348.8 million units, up 14.8% from 2020, according to International Data Corp. (IDC). The numbers represent the highest annual shipment that the market had seen in almost a decade, 2012.

During the summer, vaccines were rolled out, and the government removed many restrictions. As a result, utilities planned a return to their pre-pandemic workplaces and started to recall workers from their homes back to the office.

As a result, the boon in selling mobile systems seemed to ebb. In the fourth quarter 2021, they rose only 1%. Typically, that period is stronger from consumer demand during the Christmas season than business sales.


Omnicron Variant Sweeps the Nation

But at that time, the Omicron variant emerged and changed the pandemic landscape yet again. The number of cases started to rise in December. Previously, the high water mark for the daily average for number of Covid cases reported was about 290,000 reached in January 2021. With Omnicron, the number was 86,000 at the start of December and skyrocketed to close to 400,000 per day by the end of the month.

As a result, companies changed their plans. A mid-December 2021 Gartner survey found that 44% of companies pushed back or altered the reopening of their offices.

With the boom in cases, Gartner conjectured that more companies would put returns to the office on hold. The projection seems very reasonable because the case number doubled from the start of January to the middle of the month when it surpassed 800,000 cases a day.

The pandemic’s impact has made executive planning extremely challenging. Energy companies have been unable to craft short term and long term plans for their employees because of the wild fluctuations in Covid case numbers as new strains work their way through the world. Utility mobile devices policies has been one area greatly impacted by the shifts.


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